The Miami Heat have signed unrestricted free agent Damon Jones to a two-year deal starting with the remaining $2.5 million from the MLE it had available and giving Jones a player option for the second year. Despite the fact that Jones is now the Heat's third point guard and will be battling with hometown hero Keyon Dooling for the chance to backup Dwyane Wade, and despite concerns about Miami's continued hole in the frontcourt, Damon Jones is a terrific pickup for the club.
If coach Stan Van Gundy is as flexible as his younger brother, you might see Jones-Wade both playing in the backcourt, much like Mark Jackson and Steve Francis saw some limited action together in Houston.
Jones is coming off of his best professional year where among other things he was second in the league in assists per turnover. "I'm not a real break-you-down kind of point guard," he once said to me, explaining Milwaukee head coach Terry Porter's approach to coaching. Porter saw that Jones was better at finding the open man coming off of screens than he was at isolation offense, and he used him to his advantage. Jones may even be a better off-the-screen kind of passer and distributor than Wade, who is unquestionably a break-you-down kind of point guard.
Another great benefit is (knock on wood) if Dwyane Wade ever goes down with injury for an extended period of time, Jones is able to step right in. He did it in Milwaukee when T.J. Ford was injured and he could do it again. Given Wade's fearlessness, his high-flying, his constant attacks to the basket where big guys just wait to pound on him, and, yes, even his participation in the summer Olympics, the chances of an injury, whether it be an ankle or shoulder sprain or something more serious, is not to be disregarded. With Jones and Dooling available, the Heat could at least tread water giving Wade time to recover and not forcing him to exacerbate any potential injury.
Congratulations to Miami to seeing the obvious talent in Damon Jones and not being afraid to go after him.
After this signing, the Heat now have only their $1.6 million lower-level exception available to entice free agents.
The Heat have released the complete 2004-2005 regular season schedule.
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Tim Povtak ofThe Orlando Sentinel notes: [Shaquille] O'Neal, who is spending much of his summer in Central Florida, will put on the boxing gloves and climb into the ring against Antonio Tarver, the light heavyweight world champion, at Universal Studios on Aug. 6. It's the main event in a charity fund-raiser titled: Shaq's Mama Said Knock You Out. It benefits the Odessa Chambliss Quality of Life Fund, which provides a scholarship fund for individuals seeking careers in nursing. Tickets for the event are $125. For more information, call 813-286-8300.
Stephen F. Holder ofThe Miami Heatwrites: With its frontcourt depth still lacking, the Heat on Thursday chose to solidify its backcourt with the signing of unrestricted free agent Damon Jones, the player's agent and league sources confirmed Thursday.The Heat has scheduled a news conference for today where it is expected to introduce Jones, who becomes the third point guard on the roster and will compete with local standout Keyon Dooling for the backup job to starter Dwyane Wade... Jones received a guaranteed two-year deal, with the remaining $2.5 million from Miami's midlevel cap exception covering the first year's salary. Jones' agent, Mark Termini, said Jones will hold a player option for the second year. The 6-3 Jones, 27, looked less like a journeyman last season, averaging seven points and 5.8 assists, despite playing just 24.6 minutes per-game. Jones' assist-to-turnover ratio -- 4.64 to 1 -- ranked second in the league.
Michael Cunningham ofThe South Florida Sun-Sentinelwrites: The Heat added what figures to be the final piece of its backcourt as sources say the team signed free-agent point guard Damon Jones on Thursday.A news conference is planned today to announce the signing of an undisclosed player. A source said that player is Jones, who is coming off a strong season with Milwaukee, and that he likely will supplant former Cardinal Gibbons and Dillard star Keyon Dooling as the backup to Dwyane Wade... At 6 feet 3, Damon Jones is considered a careful ball-handler who plays a controlled game. That style may not have fit with the Heat's running game last season, but the addition of center Shaquille O'Neal means the team will play at a deliberate pace more often this season.
Sarah Talalay ofThe South Florida Sun-Sentinelwrites: New Miami Heat center Shaquille O'Neal may have found his waterfront home -- a Mediterranean mansion on ritzy Star Island that once belonged to the team's original center, Rony Seikaly.O'Neal has made an offer of about $18 million for a 19,440-square-foot, two-story home at 26 Star Island Drive, a source familiar with the deal said Thursday. The eight-bedroom, eight-bathroom house was listed for close to $25 million. The property on the northeast side of the island is 2.5 acres and includes a dock, gym, tennis court and indoor racquetball court, as well as a separate guest house. Other stars with homes on Star Island include Gloria and Emilio Estefan and Rosie O'Donnell.