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Wade and Mourning Back...Riley Wants Shaq In Miami


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Heat exercise options on Wade, Mourning



Miami (Ticker) - Coming off one of the best seasons in franchise history, the Miami Heat exercised options on two of their most important players.


Miami exercised its 2006-07 team option on star guard Dwyane Wade and picked up the 2005-06 option on reserve center Alonzo Mourning, the team announced Friday.


The Heat wasted little time picking up the option on Wade, who has emerged as one of the league's most exciting talents in his first two seasons. The 6-4 guard averaged 24.1 points, 6.8 assists, 5.2 rebounds and 1.57 steals this past season.


Wade, 23, also made the All-Star team for the first time and set Heat records for most points in a season (1,854), free throws made (581) and scoring average.


Mourning, who starred with the Heat from 1995-2002, rejoined the team on March 1 after two injury-riddled seasons with the New Jersey Nets in which he continued to battle a lingering kidney ailment.


But the 6-10 Mourning proved to be an important cog to Miami's first-place squad, posting averages of 7.6 points and 5.4 rebounds in 37 games with the Heat and providing much-needed defense, rebounding and veteran leadership along the way.


In his first go-around with Miami, Mourning guided the Heat to six playoff appearances and a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals in 1997 - the only one in franchise history prior to this past season.


Miami finished 59-23 and earned the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, but - in part due to a rib injury suffered by Wade - squandered a 3-2 series lead to the Detroit Pistons in the Conference Finals, barely falling short of the first NBA Finals in team history.


With Wade and Mourning returning to a team built around superstar center Shaquille O'Neal, fans can expect the Heat to make another run at a championship in 2005-06.


Yahoo! Sports


Riley wants Shaq in Miami for the long haul


MIAMI (AP) -- Shaquille O'Neal is under contract to the Miami Heat for one more year. Not surprisingly, Heat president Pat Riley wants him around much longer.


Riley plans to build around O'Neal for several upcoming seasons, and hopes the team can sign the 12-time All-Star to a deal allowing him to end his career in Miami.


O'Neal's contract situation -- he can opt out of his existing deal and become a free agent this summer, although it's doubtful he'll leave Miami -- is the biggest issue facing the Heat these days.


``We have agreed to agree to agree to move forward,'' Riley said Friday. ``And it would be absolute insanity not to try to work out ... a deal that's going to keep Shaquille O'Neal in Miami for the next four or five years.''


Until the O'Neal matter is settled, the Heat likely won't make any significant personnel moves.


O'Neal -- who's set to make $30.6 million for 2005-06 -- averaged 22.9 points and 10.4 rebounds this season for Miami, which won 59 games and was the No. 1 seed for the East playoffs.


Riley said he and O'Neal's representatives, Perry Rogers and Mike Parris, have not discussed specific dollar amounts or other terms of what may be part of a new deal. But the basic parameters are clear.


``Shaquille's going to be the highest-paid player in this game,'' Riley said.


The acquisition of O'Neal last summer set the tone for Miami's finest season, one that brought the Heat closer than they'd ever been to the NBA Finals. And Riley said he doesn't see much need for tweaking.


Several key parts of this year's run, including guards Damon Jones and Keyon Dooling, starting power forward Udonis Haslem and backup center Alonzo Mourning, all face uncertain futures. Jones and Dooling could opt out of their contracts, Haslem may be lured by more money elsewhere and Mourning may simply retire.


But Riley said he's optimistic most of the core group will be back, a feeling echoed by guard Dwyane Wade, who averaged 24.1 points and 6.8 assists in his second NBA season.


``That's something that we want,'' Wade said Friday at a Heat charity event. ``Having nine new guys this year and having the year we had was pretty special. For us to go in the direction we need to go in, I think having guys that (are) familiar with everything we're trying to do would help us.''


Some changes will be made, something Riley referred to as ``a natural progression.''


He said that -- when healthy -- Damon Jones, Wade, Eddie Jones, Haslem and O'Neal are a strong enough starting five to win a title.


And the team would also like Dooling and Mourning, among others, back next year. Miami picked up a one-year team option for Mourning on Friday, a move that doesn't necessarily mean he'll choose to return.


Yet if an opportunity to upgrade presents itself, the Heat -- who will have a midlevel salary cap exception of about $5.5 million to spend as they choose, plus could use a lower-level exception of around $2 million -- will likely pounce.


``You need to add every year, one or two different parts until you get exactly what it is you want,'' Riley said.


One change Riley suggested could happen next season surrounds his involvement as a coach.


He occasionally misses coaching; Riley stepped down as Heat coach just before the 2003-04 season after a 21-year career that included 1,110 regular-season wins, 155 playoff victories and four NBA titles.


``Over the last couple of years, Stan has done a great job and I've stayed way into the background,'' Riley said, referring to his former top assistant, Heat coach Stan Van Gundy. ``I may take a little bit more of an active participation in some of the things, but for the most part I'm content at doing what I'm doing.''


Yahoo! Sports

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I am betting Riley tries to secure the teams future by keeping shaq long term, then moves on to become a coach elsewhere


But why would he set up a team to be a title contender year after year and just leave?


The only way I see Riley leaving is if the Heat become utter garbage. With Shaq and Wade to be here atleast 3 more years together, Riley wont leave this team. Especially since this summer Riley will become part owner of the Heat, Arison is to give Riley 15% ownership on his 10th anniversary, which is this summer.


I dont know about you guys but Riley looks ten years younger now that he isnt coaching. The stress was killing him. Thats why I dont see Van Gundy doing coaching for that long maybe a few more seasons before it burns him out.

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