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Through the Net: January 27, 2011

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Former Miami Heat guard Jason Williams has been officially released by the Orlando Magic. Williams was apparently not very happy being buried on the bench behind Jameer Nelson, Gilbert Arenas and Chris Duhon.

"I think it came to a point to where [he didn't see] the opportunity to play, and it was tough for him," Magic President of Basketball Operations Otis Smith said. "To be quite frank with you, it was tough for him from Day One. But, still, I wish him well.

"We had conversations with him along the way dealing with the issue of playing or not playing, but it's the same conversation I have with everybody else on our team. It's no different with guys who are not playing. But it was a little bit tougher for him to go from playing major minutes for us in a year past and then not playing at all." Williams, 35, hopes to latch on with another team. "This is a buyout that's been discussed for some time," said Williams' agent, Dan Tobin. "It's mutually beneficial. They'll have three quality point guards instead of four and it'll give him an opportunity to play elsewhere when that opportunity presents itself. He's not retiring. "For him, it's about playing basketball."

Would the Heat entertain the notion of re-signing the 35-year-old point guard? It seems quite unlikely given the fact that the Heat appeared to decline his services for two straight off-seasons but also remember that the Heat were desperate enough last year to sign an over-the-hill Rafer Alston on January 7, 2010 (who was not only a former Heat player but had played for the Magic the season before). Alston immediately became the starting point guard over Carlos Arroyo and Mario Chalmers. If not Williams, then the Heat may be tempted to look elsewhere for help at the position. Both players have had their moments and have improved their shooting this year but no question that the position has been underwhelming, to put it nicely. (Fantastic choice of picture by the Orlando Sentinel).

"Nobody's afraid of the Miami Heat," New York Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire said Wednesday after a team practice. Strong words from a player whose team has gone 0-2 against the Heat both at home and in Miami. With superfan Spike Lee in attendance of both games looking on, the Knicks haven't been able to do much against a team they're supposedly not afraid of. They lost by 22 in New York thanks in part to LeBron's triple-double and were losing by 22 in the second game before making a late push to make the final score respectable but still lost while allowing 40 points from Dwyane Wade. The fearless Amar'e went 21-51 in both games.

The NY Daily News has this interesting account of what may have transpired during the offseason:

Last season, Stoudemire and James nearly joined forces in Cleveland, but the Cavs' front office backed out of a proposed trade with Phoenix. Five months later, James and Dwyane Wade had the power to bring Stoudemire's talents to South Beach but they instead recruited Chris Bosh, who remains sidelined with a sprained ankle and will not play Thursday night. There are different accounts of what actually transpired in late June and into July. The Stoudemire camp claims that James did reach out to the current Knick and told him to come to Miami, albeit at a reduced rate. But Wade had already targeted Bosh as the Heat's future power forward. The two share the same agent and even met with teams, including the Knicks, together in Chicago.
Also from the NY Daily News, Knicks assassin Reggie Miller has some advice for LeBron:
"Be the best villain you can be," said Reggie Miller, who was waging open warfare with Knick fans long before James became a precocious teen superstar. "LeBron needs to accept this, embrace this. He's no longer the hero riding in on his horse. He needs to change the white hat to a black hat."
Easily the most fascinating story of the day is that the Miami Heat apparently bought Tim Hardaway's mansion to bail him out from a huge $120,000 federal tax debt.
Hardaway, 44, ran into tax trouble in June despite being paid more than $46.6 million during his NBA career. The IRS filed a tax lien against his property and the bill listed his 7,542-square-foot mansion in suburban Miami. On Sept. 3, three months after the lien was filed, Hardaway sold the mansion to Miami Heat Limited Partnership, which owns the Miami Heat. Check out the deed. The Heat paid $1.985 million, according to public records. Today, the Heat is trying to sell the five-bedroom, five-and-a-half-bath estate, which comes with a pool and private basketball court decorated with a Miami Heat logo, for $2.5 million. In an interview, Hardaway refused to say why the Heat bought his house. Two Miami Heat spokesmen did not return calls seeking comment. Meanwhile, four months after the sale, Hardaway's still living in the mansion.
Very well, that's one loyal franchise. The friendship between Hardaway and Pat Riley has stood the test of time despite his infamous tirade against homosexuals on the Dan LeBatard Show a few years back and has culminated in being the second Heat player to have his number retired.