Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 12/10/11
MIAMI Shane Battier dressed well for his Miami debut press conference. He wore a sports jacket that casually clad Heat president Pat Riley said he tried to borrow. No, Battier did not look much poorer Saturday. Still, talk was about how the forward took a pay cut to join the Heat. After making 7.35 million last season for Houston and Memphis, hell play this season for the 3 million taxpayer mid-level exception and overall has a three-year, 9.4 million deal. Knowing that he took a pay cut to be here, that doesnt go unnoticed in Miami, said Heat guard Dwyane Wade. It might go unnoticed elsewhere. But here in Miami, we appreciate that. After all, Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh all took pay cuts to form their superteam in the summer of 2010. However, theyre all this season making more than five times what Battier, 33, is pulling down. But Battier, who never has been to the NBA Finals, is known for being unselfish. He turned down offers in free agency from San Antonio, Indiana and Toronto because he believes Miami provides the best chance to win. The lockout was positive in the respects that it gave me time to really reflect on whats important at this point in my life, Battier, who officially signed late Friday night, said after his first practice at AmericanAirlines Arena.For me, it always came back to the same thing. I want to have a winning role. When the opportunities were forming, it was crystal clear that Miami gave me the best opportunity to have a winning role. Sitting next to Battier, Riley looked pleased to hear those words. With Riley's five championship rings as a head coach and one as a player, Riley knows a bit about winning. When free agency finally began for this lockout-shortened 66-game season, Riley said his first call to an outside free agent was to Battier. We were sort of relentless in our efforts, Riley said. Riley long had coveted the 6-foot-8 Battier, but said the price always was too high to get him. He finally had his chance when Battier became a free agent for the first time since entering the NBA in 2001. He brings such a huge element to what it is were trying to do as franchise, Riley said. I think he fits into the culture, obviously. Hes a hard worker, one of the best defensive players in the NBA individually at two or three positions. Hes a basketball player that knows how to win. Battier didnt appear to fill a glaring need for the Heat, who have desperately needed a center and an upgrade at point guard. But Miami, which was more than 4 million over the 70.307 million luxury-tax line and could only offer a 3 mid-level exception rather than a 5 million one, didnt have the money for a reputable center. And the free-agent point guard crop was weak. So the Heat re-signed restricted free agent Mario Chalmers to a three-year, 12 million deal. Battiers signing adds to the traffic jam at the wing, with the Heat already having Wade, James and Mike Miller and also having re-signed James Jones. But Riley said one cant have enough good perimeter players. I think the versatility first and foremost, Riley said of what Battier adds. It always reminded me a little bit what I had for nine years in Los Angeles (as Lakers coach from 1981-90) with Magic (Johnson) and (Michael) Cooper and (Bryon) Scott and (James) Worthy basically as the perimeters that played all different positions. I see Shane and Mike Miller, and I see, obviously, Dwyane and LeBron in almost the same kind of thing When we get Mike healthy (following Nov. 28 sports hernia surgery), were going to have I think four of the best most versatile perimeter guys in the league that can play one through four. Riley said hes talked to Battier about playing alongside James, with James being the power forward on offense and Battier having that role on defense. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra foresees sometimes playing as many as four wings at a time. Battier, who has a career scoring average of 9.6 and three-point percentage of 38.5, will be able to knock down an outside shot playing along so many top offensive players. The 11-year veteran also will be a valuable presence in the locker room. Hes very vocal and he does it in an appropriate way, Spoelstra said. I think people respect it. No wonder James, Wade and Bosh all sent texts to Battier in an effort to get him on board. Obviously, when those guys reach out you, those are text messages you take back to your wife (Heidi) and say, Look whos texting me? said Battier, who played with James, Wade and Bosh at the 2006 World Championships in Japan. Were all fans here When they expressed their wishes for me to be in Miami, that carries a lot of weight. After learning of Miamis interest in free agency, Battier spent a lot of time talking about it with his wife. But, even if it meant a pay cut, he said none of the offers bettered going to the Heat. Obviously, Pat and Andy (Elisburg, a Heat executive) did a fantastic job of coming up with an unbelievable game plan and it all came together, Battier said about the Heat carving out the cap room in the summer of 2010 to create this superteam. It was an amazing feat of NBA accounting and an amazing job of selling (James and Bosh to join Wade) and do something special. Its a testament to this franchise that those guys want to sacrifice role, money to do something special. And thats exactly the reason why Im here. So forget money. Overall, Battier believes his Heat experience will make him richer. HOUSE HEALING - Heat guard Eddie House, who underwent arthroscopic surgery Nov. 1 on his left knee, doesnt know if hell be ready by the Dec. 25 regular-season opener at Dallas. It could be two weeks from now, House said. It could be maybe three or four weeks. House, who said he doesnt want to rush back into anything, had seen a doctor due to having a stress reaction in his knee. With the lockout going on then, it was decided it was a good time to clean out his knee. Chris Tomasson can be reached at christomasson@hotmail.com or on Twitter@christomasson
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