Being Perfectly Blount

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

Mark Blount has a house in Boca. The Heat have a team in Miami. Blount can exercise his option to become a free agent center. The Heat are looking for a free agent center. A match made in heaven? Here is the scouting report for the Heat about Blount: he has a nice, soft outside shot, and he can run the floor, and he can play good defense, but he has slippery fingers.

Very often a post pass into Blount becomes a turnover as he is unable to catch the ball. Celtics fans have seen it so often this year they almost cringed every time a pass went inside, especially a no-look or a quick shovel pass, as opposed to a regular feed-the-post kind of scenario.

Miami is a run-and-gun team first and a penetrate-and-kick team second. In both situations, a quick dish to an open teammate under the basket is one of the top choices. Lamar Odom or Dwyane Wade would have no problem attacking the basket and finding Blount through a sea of defenders, wide open for the dunk, if only he could catch the ball. The times he does catch it, it is an easy dunk. The times he misses it, it's heartbreaking.

It will be up to Stan Van Gundy to teach Blount to keep his hands up and ready to receive passes. One hint is from Pistol Pete Maravich: keep your hands one above the other rather than side by side when looking to receive a pass. That way, you won't jam a finger, and you have a better shot of grabbing it without letting it slip through.

Blount is a great shooter from up to 18 feet away. He has a soft touch and a nice arch. Towards the end of the season with Boston, he was running the pick-and-roll play quite well. He is also a good threat for a pick-and-pop.

And with him playing center, Brian Grant can move to the power forward spot, shifting Lamar Odom to the small forward. Plus, Van Gundy can always go to the smaller lineup again and feel confident that he has players that were two wins away from the Eastern Conference Finals.

One thing we don't yet know about Blount is whether his career year this year (second in the league to Shaq with an 0.566 field goal percentage, 10.3 points per game nearly doubling his career average, 7.2 rebounds per game compared with a 4.5 career average) is an indication of things to come -- he is, after all, only 28.5 years old -- or a perfect example of a player looking to maximize his next contract.

The Heat have a record of overpaying role players (see Grant and Eddie Jones). If they can get him for a non-maximum price, and if they can get him for a short number of years with a team option, then they limit their risk and maximize their upside. And Blount could be a great fit with the Heat.

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Israel Gutierrez ofThe Miami Herald writes: Call it the LeBron James effect.Kevin Garnett took some time to succeed, as did Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady. Amare Stoudemire shocked the league and won Rookie of the Year, but he still didn't do what James did. James was expected to come out of high school and take over the NBA right away. And he almost did. That's why 13 high schoolers are going to give it a try this year, entering the NBA draft. Problem is, for every success story there will be two dreadful failures. With every Stoudemire will come two Lenny Cookes. The LeBron James effect won't necessarily be a good thing.

Israel Gutierrez ofThe Miami Heraldwrites: Heat president Pat Riley said he can create some depth through free agency, which would leave him open to the idea of drafting a high school player with potential. ''This turned around here [in Miami] because we got some talented basketball players, not because of the experience,'' Riley said. ``I do think we have enough flexibility to find some experience with the mid-level and other exception, and there's going to be a plethora of veteran guys that you might be able to get for the minimum, that you might be able to fill that void. ``But there are about three or four high school players that I really like. And maybe one or two of them might slip down there [to the No. 19 pick].''Regardless of whom he picks, Riley believes he can find an impact player in the mid-first round and possibly even with its two second-round picks next month. Two years ago, the Heat liked Tayshaun Prince, who was drafted 23rd, and one of Riley's favorite players in last year's draft was the last pick in the first round -- Josh Howard of the Mavericks.

Ira Winderman ofThe South Florida Sun-Sentinelwrites: A year ago the Heat went from a lottery loser to a draft winner, its slide from its No. 4 lottery seed to No. 5 selection yielding Dwyane Wade, who may yet prove to be the best of the Class of '03. This year the Heat didn't even have a ticket to the lottery and still managed to come out ahead at Wednesday's drawing for the top picks in the June 24 draft.With its focus on next season's realignment, there loomed the possibility of the Heat's new divisional partners -- Orlando, Washington, Atlanta and Charlotte -- emerging with the top four selections. Instead, for the most part, confusion continues to reign elsewhere in the Heat's new domain.

Ira Winderman ofThe South Florida Sun-Sentinelwrites: Among the priorities for incoming Celtics coach Doc Rivers is retaining center Mark Blount, who can become a free agent and has expressed interest in the Heat."Mark lives in Boca in the summertime, and I live in Orlando," Rivers said recently on the Celtics' web site. "So I jumped in my car last week and drove down to lovely Boca, had lunch with Mark for a couple hours. I'm really looking forward to getting Mark back in the fold, if he chooses us. It's his decision. It's not ours."