To all those people out there who said the Heat wouldn't be able to win with 3 guys and a bunch of minimum contract guys...how do you like us now? Yesterday it was Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller. Today its Zydrunas Ilgauskas (that's gonna be fun to spell this season) and Juwan Howard.
Shortly after it came out that Big Z was going to sign with Miami, Dwyane Wade said it best in a message on Twitter; "The POWER of sacrifice is under estimated...YES.WE.DID...". I find it funny that when the big 3 signed, there was some doubt as to how they would fill out the rest of their roster. Now, literally just days later, they are putting together one hell of a squad.
There is a good chance that every off-season there will be a long line of free agents who will want the opportunity to come play in South Beach. Right now that's where Ilgauskas, Juwan Howard and Jerry Stackhouse are standing. However, it seems that Heat bouncer Pat Riley is about to let the next two in line inside Club-AAA.
Howard's signing isn't confirmed the way that Ilguskas' is. While Big Z's contract is all but signed, Juwan and his agent aren't going to make that claim just yet. Still, all signs point to both landing in Miami in the next few days.
It's known that Howard has been working with Pat Riley finalizing the deal that will bring him ‘back' to Miami 14 years after he first tried to sign with the Heat. That deal was voided by the league due to the Heat going over the salary cap thanks to Alonzo Mourning disclosing that he had verbal agreement with Miami before Howard signed.
This time around the Heat are getting a wise veteran who has been relocated a lot over the course of his career. After starting his career with the then Washington Bullets, he Dallas, Denver, Orlando, Houston, Dallas again, Denver again, Charlotte and Portland, where he played last season.
Shifting our focus to Ilgauskas, his deal is just hindering on whether it will be for 1-year or if there will be a 2nd year added with a player option. This isn't the first time the Heat have courted him either. When he was bought out by the Wizards last season after being traded by Cleveland, the Heat pushed for him to sign for their playoff run but Big Z elected to return to the Cavs.
Now he chooses to leave his home for the last 14-years in order to pursue the dream that all players have, to win a championship. Said Z:
"It was very tough. I love Cleveland. At end the day, Miami is best place for me to win a ring"
To the Cleveland Plain Dealer: "I've been a loyal soldier for 14 years. It's time for me to go and chase my dream of winning a ring."
The contract is going to be worth $2.8 million over 2-years, with the 2nd year coming as a player option. I suppose the mindset is that just in case the Heat don't win a championship next season, Ilgauskas wants to have another shot at it without having to worry about being a free agent again. Makes sense. More to come later...