DENVER — If center Chris Andersen is looking for a letter of recommendation for the Miami Heat, he’s got one from George Karl.
The Denver coach, who had Andersen with the Nuggets from 2008-12 until he was an amnesty victim last summer, said it would be a good move for Miami to sign Andersen. The Heat, desperate for rebounding help, worked Andersen out earlier this week.
“Oh, yeah, he has enough,” Karl said in an interview Wednesday with FOX Sports Florida when asked if Andersen, who got the nickname “Birdman” for his high-flying antics, still has much athleticism left at 34. “He’s not as spectacular as he once was. But I think there’s plenty there. I think if they’re looking for a 15- to 25-minute player, then they would have no problem.”
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The Heat cleared two roster spots in the past week by waiving Terrel Harris and Josh Harrellson, who both had non-guaranteed contracts. They signed a 14th player Wednesday in power forward Jarvis Varnado, who got a 10-day contract, leaving them with one open roster spot.
Andersen last May had his Larksburg, Colo., home searched in a child-exploitation investigation by the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. He has not been charged with any crime.
The investigation is still ongoing. A lawyer for Andersen, Colin Bresee, said last year the family of a young woman from California who had said she was of legal age tried to extort Andersen for money after he spurned her advances following a visit to Colorado. Bresee had said Andersen had received letters and photos showing the young woman “scantily clad.”
“All I can say is I think ‘Birdman’ is a classy guy. He’s different,” Karl said of the player known for his numerous tattoos. “I think he’s very responsible. I think what happened last year, I think it can go clear itself up.”
Andersen, 6 feet 10, has talked about changing his lifestyle after being banned from the NBA from January 2006 to March 2008 for failing a drug test. After he returned, he was a key cog when Denver advanced in 2009 to the Western Conference finals.
But Andersen, who has career averages of 5.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.6 blocks, was relegated last season to the bench. He didn’t play in Denver’s final 17 regular-season games nor in their 4-3, first-round playoff loss to the Lakers.
“I thought last year he lost here because we wanted to play younger players,” Karl said. “It wasn’t because he got worse. There were a lot of nights the choice should have been ‘Bird,’ but philosophically we had decided to give Kosta (Koufos), Timo (Timofey Mozgov) and Kenneth (Faried) that opportunity (to play).”
While the Heat worked out Andersen, there is no guarantee they will sign him. Midway through season, while also seeking a big man, they worked out free-agent power forward Rasheed Wallace, but he never joined the team. They eventually signed center Ronny Turiaf after he had been bought out by Denver.
For now, the Heat have brought in Varnado, a 6-9 rookie who was waived by the team late in training camp. Varnado had averaged 14.0 points, 8.9 rebounds and 4.38 blocks for Sioux Falls of the NBA Development League.
Varnado, who played in five games earlier this season with Boston, will dress out for his first Heat game Thursday at Portland. But because of his inexperience, he might not make much of an immediate impact even though the Heat have been out rebounded by 17 or more in three of their past five games.
As for Andersen, he’s a veteran who could make an impact. At least that’s what Karl would state in a letter of recommendation.