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More Players Following Shaq to Miami?


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Band of players follows Shaq's wagon

 

By Chris Perkins, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

 

 

 

MIAMI -- NBA free agents are lining up for the opportunity to play alongside Shaquille O'Neal in a Miami Heat uniform.

 

And the line starts behind sharp-shooting San Antonio forward Robert Horry.

 

"Robert loves playing with Shaq," said Robert Barr, Horry's agent. "If Shaq is going to be there, there is definitely going to be interest."

 

New Jersey's Rodney Rogers, who plays both power forward and small forward, wants to play in Miami, too.

 

"He has plenty of interest," Rogers' agent, James Butch Williams said. "I think that would be a tremendous addition. Not speaking as an agent but speaking as a fan, if the Heat put Rodney with Shaq... you talk about physical. You're physical at the five (center) as well as the four (power forward) and three (small forward)."

 

Barr and Williams said they'll definitely call the Heat this week.

 

Atlanta guard Bob Sura also wants to team with Shaq.

 

"My agent has had preliminary discussions with them," Sura said Monday. "Of course I would have interest. They're in great position now."

 

Milwaukee forward Toni Kukoc might even be back in the mix for Miami.

 

This is the drawing power O'Neal has throughout the NBA.

 

Doors that were closed to Miami a week ago now are wide open.

 

"Everyone wants to play with the best player in the league," Sura said. "Especially being a guard or perimeter player. It helps."

 

Granted, this isn't the Who's Who of the NBA, but considering Miami has only the $5.1 million mid-level exception and the $1.6 million exception and it's a thin market, things could be much worse. The Heat could be without O'Neal's recruiting ability.

 

"Everybody loves to play with great players so I think that's a big part of the attraction," agent Mark Bartelstein said. "The other side of the coin is there's only so much a team can do economically. He takes up such a huge amount of cash.

 

"But all things being equal, everybody would love to play the game with Shaquille O'Neal. He makes the game easier."

 

Bartelstein said he has talked with the Heat about Lakers guard Derek Fisher, but Fisher is weighing several opportunities, including the Lakers and Houston.

 

Bartelstein also has talked with the Heat regarding Toronto guard Corie Blount, Utah guard Mo Williams and Cleveland forward Eric Williams.

 

Those talks were going on before the news that the Heat would acquire O'Neal in exchange for center Brian Grant, forwards Lamar Odom and Caron Butler and a first-round pick no sooner than 2006.

 

Since the trade news has gone public, many players have taken a second look at the Heat. Kukoc could be one of them.

 

Kukoc is spending time on his boat in Croatia right now and has expressed a desire to return to Milwaukee. But O'Neal could change that. Kukoc likely doesn't know about the trade.

 

"A couple of weeks ago (Heat General Manager) Randy (Pfund) asked me what Toni's plans were and I told him his plans were to return to Milwaukee, which they are," Herb Rudoy said. "But with the Shaquille O'Neal thing going down Miami becomes much more attractive to Toni."

 

Barr said Horry remains interested in returning to the Spurs. Barr added that the Houston Rockets also are in the running because Horry has a house there. But Barr said right now it's between the Heat and the Spurs.

 

"I can tell you for sure those are his top two teams," Barr said.

 

Sura said he has been talking to Boston, Atlanta, Seattle and others. He said he's not looking to break the bank.

 

"I'm not greedy," he said. "I'm just going to see what falls my way."

 

One of the big unknowns regarding O'Neal's drawing power is whether he can get Lakers forward Karl Malone to follow him.

 

It seems Malone, who is recovering from knee surgery, won't return to the Lakers. He has been quoted as saying O'Neal was the main reason he joined the Lakers.

 

If Miami is able to use O'Neal to attract players who might agree to play for less money -- players such as Malone, Kukoc, Denver's Michael Doleac, Utah's Greg Ostertag or others -- the Heat could piece together some decent talent.

 

But it seems no one is more enthused than Horry.

 

"He loves the big fella," Barr said.

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I'd like to play alongside Shaq also. I should have my agent (The Passion) give the Heat a call.

 

Horry would probably be the best choice of the players mentioned above.

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Heat to sign Nuggets free agent Doleac at center

 

By Ira Winderman

Staff Writer

Posted July 13 2004, 11:06 AM EDT

 

A team that a week ago had a glaring void at center now finds itself with veteran depth at the position.

 

As it worked to finalize its trade with the Los Angeles Lakers for Shaquille O'Neal, the Heat agreed to terms early Tuesday on a four-year contract with Denver Nuggets free agent Michael Doleac

 

The outside-shooting center will sign Wednesday for approximately $12 million, with his contract taking up about $2.4 million of the $5.1 million mid-level salary-cap exception the Heat has available to add new players. The Heat also retains a $1.6 million lower-level cap exception. The fourth year of Doleac's contract is a player option.

 

Doleac, 27, made his decision early Tuesday after turning down a slightly larger bid from the New Orleans Hornets. The 6-foot-11 veteran also was considering a return to the Nuggets, as well as another go-round with the New York Knicks.

 

"We had a number of different destinations in mind and we were back and forth with New Orleans, who actually offered more money,'' agent Glenn Schwartzman said. "But playing with Shaq was definitely appealing."

 

As with the O'Neal trade, the Doleac signing will require formal league approval once the league's signing moratorium ends at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.

 

The Heat's interest in Doleac dates to last season, when he was available as a free agent following his trade from New York to Atlanta, which immediately waived him. Heat General Manager Randy Pfund held ongoing talks with Schwartzman in recent weeks, including during the Heat's summer-league appearance last week in Orlando.

 

Schwartzman said it was his understanding that Doleac mostly would be utilized as a back-up center to O'Neal, but possibly also could see time at power forward.

 

Only a week ago, it appeared the Heat would have to overpay for such a second-tier talent in the middle, with players such as Mark Blount and Brian Skinner earning in excess of $5 million per year. Instead, the Heat maximized its salary-cap space for a player who also had attracted interest from Boston, Washington and Utah.

 

With Doleac both a shooter and rebounder, it likely will push center Wang Zhi-Zhi further down the Heat's rotation, if the veteran of the Chinese Olympic team even is retained.

 

Doleac was a first-round pick (No. 12 overall) of the Orlando Magic in 1998 out of the University of Utah. He later was traded to Cleveland for Brendan Haywood in 2001, signed with the Knicks as a free agent in 2002, and then was involved in last season's trade with Atlanta that sent center Nazr Mohammed to New York.

 

Interestingly, Doleac's best game of last season came against the Heat, when he scored 18 points for the Knicks in a Jan. 24 meeting.

 

A biology major at Utah, Doleac aspires to attend medical school, with the goal of becoming an orthopedic surgeon.

 

Ira Winderman can be reached at iwinderman@sun-sentinel.com.

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Wow what an "A" list of Basketball players.

 

Kukoc, Doleac, Rodgers!

 

I'm sure Garnett, Duncan, & McGrady are quaking in their hightops.

 

The Heat gives up the farm for Shaq, they have Shaq, D-Wade.

 

Just remember, your still not as a good as Detroit.

 

Detroit shut down Shaq, Kobe, Malone, & Payton and Phil Jackson as the head coach.

 

Which is much harder then shutting down Shaq, D-Wade (who will be a star this year), Eddie Jones, and Stan Van Gundy as the head coach.

 

But without a doubt the Heat are the 2nd best in the East behind only Detroit, and are right up there with the likes of Detroit, Minnesota, San Antonio, Houston, & Indiana as the best teams in the NBA.

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Well we still have some more offseason work to do, and not only that malone was injured, we also have eddie jones, and plus kobe was being a little girl all year including the playoffs with his whining about getting the ball and such. True that detroit is the team to beat but the heat are looking better and better. Doleac as backup center is a good acquisition.

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