Miami Heat Lands the Prized Free Agent of 1996

​Even after 14 long years, Pat Riley is a man who gets what

he wants. Why? Because he's Pat Frickin' Riley, that's why. The Miami Heat signed free

agent forward Juwan Howard yesterday to the veteran's minimum of $1.4 million.

Back in 1996, and with much fanfare, Howard signed a $101 million deal with the

Heat and held a news conference with Riles to announce the signing. But the deal was eventually voided by the NBA because of a salary-cap

technicality. At the time, Riley famously groused that the NBA had stuck a "17-foot

pole up my rear end" after the deal was canceled. 

The Howard signing comes on the heels of the Heat signing

sharpshooter Mike Miller and two-time All-Star center Zydrunas Ilgauskas last week. So

much for wondering whom Riley was going to get to play with Dwyane Wade, LeBron

James, and Chris Bosh. The 37-year-old Howard averaged 6.0 points, 2.4 assists,

and 4.6 rebounds for the Portland Trailblazers last season and joins a power

rotation that features Ilgauskas, Udonis Haslem, Joel Anthony, and Jamaal


After Riley pulled off the biggest heist in NBA free-agency

history by signing James and Bosh to join Wade, he's begun to fill the rest of

the roster with solid complementary players. Big Z and Mike Miller will be very

strong contributors, and Haslem is ever the invaluable blue-collar warrior. Six-foot-11, 308-pound rookie Dexter Pittman should have an immediate impact, and

there has also been talk of the Heat signing Orlando free agent forward Matt Barnes.

So, was the signing of Juwan Howard all that necessary?

Probably not. But thanks to Riley landing the Three Kings, it's a luxury. The

Howard signing is likely less of a move to help the depth of the Heat rotation and probably more of a giant middle finger to the rest of the league. Prepare

your anus, NBA. Here comes the 17-foot pole, courtesy of Pat Riley. 

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Chris Joseph