Found July 12, 2012 on
Fox Sports Florida:
New Orleans Hornets
MIAMI -- Pat Riley didn't even spend 4.5 million for next season to pick up a pair of guys who last year made a combined 31 million. So does the Miami Heat president have another big score left in him?
It's not out of the question. And we're not talking about center Ronny Turiaf, whose agent said Wednesday night remains a candidate to re-sign with the Heat.
For now, the Heat only have minimum salaries to spend for their two open roster spots, which Riley said are being put on hold for now. But sources say the Heat have brought up in free agency dealings a possibility they eventually could have a 2.9 million disabled player exception available.
That exception could come if swingman Mike Miller, who might have back surgery, is ruled out for the season. There's a possibility he could end up retiring.
"He's going to meet with the doctor this week and they're going to take the second step," Riley said while not giving many details about Miller. "But he's been doing exercising, resting and that's the extent of any kind of news on him to this point."
Regardless of what happens the rest of the offseason, free agency will end up being a rousing success for the Heat. They signed on Wednesday for 3.09 million next season guard Ray Allen, who made 10 million last year with Boston, and for the 1.35 minimum forward Rashard Lewis, who earned 21 million last year with Washington. However, it must be said Lewis did recently get a 13.7 million buyout from New Orleans, so he'll be pocketing 15 million overall this season.
The Heat now have 13 players under contract. Before doing anything about the two open spots, Riley will see how prospects look in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, where the Heat play Sunday through July 21.
"We're going to hold right now," Riley said. "With the other two roster spots, we have a bunch of eager, young hungry guys (playing in Las Vegas). What we do with the two final roster spots will be determined by summer league, by what happens late in the summer in free agency (and) the trading market that we're not really exploring hard right now."
Among those young guys battling in Las Vegas who have a shot to make the roster are big men Jarvis Varnado, a 2010 Miami second-round pick, Justin Hamilton, a second-round pick last month, and guard Terrel Harris, a rookie last season with the Heat before becoming a free agent.
But, with Turiaf and Juwan Howard having become free agents (OK, Eddy Curry also did), it would seem the Heat need at least one more experienced big man. Mark Bartelstein, the agent for Turiaf, said his client remains a candidate for a Miami spot.
"We're talking," Bartelstein said of continued conversations with the Heat. "I wouldn't rule it out. We're staying in contact."
Turiaf, a seven-year veteran who signed with the Heat last March and ended up starting seven playoff games, had a player option for next season for the 1.4 million minimum. He didn't pick it up in order to look for a better deal, but it's certainly possible Turiaf could end up returning to the Heat for the minimum.
Of course, if a 2.9 million disabled player exception becomes available, then it becomes a different story for the Heat. That could give them a much-improved chance to make a strike with another significant free agent.
The Heat landed a pair of guys Wednesday who have combined for 12 All-Star Game selections (Allen 10 and Lewis two). Could Riley end up finding another former All-Star on the discount rack?
Chris Tomasson can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @christomasson
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