Pittman embracing chance to play in D-League

Pittman embracing chance to play in D-League

Published Nov. 26, 2010 6:30 p.m. ET

AP Sports Writer

MIAMI (AP) -- Dexter Pittman hoped to get a couple going-away presents from the Miami Heat.

His last chore before getting sent to the team's NBA Development League affiliate in Sioux Falls, S.D. came Wednesday night. Pittman was in the middle of the visitors' locker room in Orlando and in each hand a Louis Vuitton bag, one belonging to Juwan Howard and the other owned by Carlos Arroyo.

"I'm going to ask them to donate these to me," Pittman said.

Ah, they weren't gifts, but merely some rookie hazing, with Howard and Arroyo having him lug their stuff around for the evening. Pittman won't be doing any of that in the D-League, where his only job will be to play.

The Heat told Pittman of the move on Wednesday, then made it formal on Friday. Pittman is expected to be available for the Skyforce's home opener on Saturday night.

"I think it'll be valuable," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Friday. "He wants to play, and this is a great opportunity. He won't have many practice days here with us anyway. He's come such a long way, we're all curious to see how much this work has paid off. He's dropped close to 30 pounds. He's so much quicker. He has a lot more energy. He can sustain it. Everybody wants to see him play."

Starting with Friday's home game against Philadelphia, the Heat will play 10 times in 16 nights, with likely no more than two full practices over that span. Because Pittman hasn't appeared in any regular season games yet -- combined with this week's signing of another big man in Erick Dampier -- there weren't going to be any real opportunities for the rookie to get better in the coming days.

He doesn't see getting sent down to the D-League as getting sent down at all.

"It's a great idea," Pittman said. "It gives me a chance to go down and develop and get some games under me. Hopefully I prove myself and come right back. It's a process. I'm not in a rush. It's my first year in the NBA. If I keep working the way I am, then I'll have a lot of years here."

Miami assistant coach and advance scout Octavio De La Grana is accompanying Pittman to Sioux Falls for added work, Spoelstra said.

Pittman once weighed nearly 400 pounds and struggled with his size throughout his college career at Texas, where he averaged 10.4 points and 5.9 rebounds on 65 percent shooting as a senior.

He's 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-6 wingspan, and the Heat rave about what he can do around the basket. Plus, his conditioning has improved even more quickly than Miami anticipated, so the Heat picked now as the right time for his next challenge.

"I've gotten a lot smarter hanging around all these veteran guys," Pittman said. "It's a great, great deal for me. And I'm just ready to go out there and play."

Received 11/26/10 07:28 pm ET