Birdman wants to return; Heat waiting on Ray Allen’s option
MIAMI — The Birdman has let it be known. He wants to continue to fly south for the winter.
Chris Andersen, who becomes a free agent July 1, told fans at the Miami Heat’s championship rally Monday at AmericanAirlines Arena, “Let’s try to get a three-peat next year.’’
If there was any doubt about what the center said, his agent confirmed to FOX Sports Florida that Andersen wants to re-sign with the Heat.
“He put it clearly,’’ said Mark Bryant, who attended the rally for Miami’s second straight title. “(The Heat) gave him an opportunity, and he absolutely wants to come back.’’
Bryant had told FOX Sports Florida early in the playoffs his client was “certainly hopeful’’ of re-signing. Andersen, who was unavailable for comment after Monday’s event, previously had been noncommittal about his desire to return.
Also Monday, center Chris Bosh said he has little doubt guard Ray Allen will return to the Heat next season. Allen has until Sunday to decide whether to exercise his $3.23 million option for next season.
“We can make quotes all day, but he’s coming back,’’ Bosh said of Allen, not available Monday for comment. “There’s really nothing else to think about. That’s just how I see it. We respect each other’s space, but there’s really only one decision to make. So it’s easy.’’
Bryant anticipates beginning negotiations with the Heat about Andersen when free agency starts July 1. Bryant said it would be “totally unfair’’ to speculate on how much money Andersen should command.
Andersen, signed last January by the Heat, made the prorated minimum this season of $1.52 million ($699,952) but also earned $4.53 million from Denver, which waived him last July as part of the NBA’s amnesty rule. He is due a final payment next season of $4.82 million from the Nuggets. The most the Heat could pay Andersen next season is their taxpayer midlevel exception of $3.183 million and the least they could offer is the NBA minimum of $1.399 million.
“He loves Miami. But we can only control our side,’’ Bryant said. “He loves it here, and he told everybody that (at the rally).’’
Team president Pat Riley was not available Monday for comment. But coach Erik Spoelstra spoke of the Heat’s desire to bring Andersen back.
“He loves it here,’’ Spoelstra said. “He’s been embraced by the fans, by the team, by the organization. … The most important part is both sides want each other. The other aspect will be on (Miami salary-cap expert) Andy Elisburg’s desk of being creative and making things happen.’’
Andersen sparked the Heat almost immediately after joining them. In the playoffs, he averaged 6.4 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 15.2 minutes while shooting an NBA postseason record of 80.7 percent (46 of 57) from the field.
If the Heat could convince Andersen to re-sign for the minimum, they could use their taxpayer midlevel to sign another key piece. Miami guard Dwyane Wade touched upon sacrifices Miami players have made.
“I think Birdman has got some great examples in front of him,’’ Wade said. “Everybody that came here pretty much took a pay cut to be here. … I’m sure (the Heat are) going to do everything in their power to try to bring back Birdman. We don’t win the championship without picking up Bird.’’
The Heat also wouldn’t have won the title had they not signed Allen last summer. His game-tying 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds left in regulation forced overtime June 18 against San Antonio in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. The Heat eventually won 103-100 and claimed the title by beating the Spurs 95-88 in Game 7 last Thursday.
“I put the bug in his ear in the shower after (Game 7),’’ Heat forward Udonis Haslem said of telling Allen he’s wanted back. “I told him, ‘I’m not going to put any pressure on you I’m not going to ask you what you’re going to do. But just know I’m thinking about what you’re going to do.’ ’’
Haslem said Allen didn’t respond. Haslem said he didn’t “know if that’s good or bad.’’
Allen, who turns 38 next month, had some struggles with his shot during the postseason. But he was strong in the Finals, averaging 10.6 points while shooting 54.5 percent from 3-point range.
“We’ll give Ray his space,’’ Spoelstra said about Allen, who said before Game 7 he would take some time before making a decision on his option. “We think the ultimate pitch is what we just did (win the title). But we won’t take that for granted. There will certainly be communication.’’
Another decision regarding a key Heat player is a $4 million team option on point guard Mario Chalmers. Although Spoelstra was noncommittal, it would be a surprise if that isn’t picked up by Sunday’s deadline.
So the Heat could have Allen and Chalmers locked up for next season by the end of the week. Then talks could start on bringing the Birdman in for another landing.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
or on Twitter @christomasson.