The biggest unresolved key issue of the Heat’s offseason reached a favorable conclusion Tuesday, when Chris Andersen agreed to return to the Heat on a one-year deal.
The Heat prefered Andersen return for $1.7 million – the league minimum for a player with his service time, plus a 20 percent raise, but terms were not disclosed. He had at least one offer that was more financially lucrative, according to a source. But Andersen, 35, decided to return largely because he enjoyed his Heat experience and wants to try to win another championship.
He also will receive nearly $4.4 million next season from Denver, which used the amnesty provision on him last summer to purge his contract from its salary cap.
Andersen’s decision leaves the Heat with 13 players under guaranteed contracts. Jarvis Varnado has a non-guaranteed contract. Another roster spot could be created if the Heat uses the amnesty clause on Mike Miller or Joel Anthony.
After signing with the Heat in January, Andersen delivered a needed dose of rebounding and energy off the Heat’s bench, while also displaying a knack for finishing in the basket area, often the result of lobs from Heat teammates.
“We don’t win the championship without picking up Bird midway through the season,” Dwyane Wade said. “Bird was a key to our success.”
The Heat went 39-3 in regular season games in which Andersen played --- the highest winning percentage (92.9) in NBA history.
Andersen averaged 4.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.0 blocks and 14.9 minutes per game during the regular season, while shooting 57.7 percent.
During the playoffs, he was especially impactful against Indiana and finished the postseason averaging 6.4 points, 3.8 points, 1.1 blocks and 15.2 minutes per game, while shooting a remarkable 80.7 percent from the field. At one point, he hit 18 shots in a row.
Andersen appreciates how Heat fans embraced him.
“It feels like as soon as I got into the city, I had nothing but big support for me,” he said. “Everywhere I was going, they were rooting me on. To be able to come in here midseason and collaborate with these guys and play for such an extraordinary, talented team and play with some of the best all-time players, it’s amazing.”
Heat rookie forward James Ennis, the second-round pick acquired from Atlanta on draft night, produced his second consecutive solid showing in the Orlando Summer League, with 19 points and 6 rebounds in Miami’s 94-80 victory against Orlando on Tuesday.
Center Jarvis Varnado added 16 points but just two rebounds in 22 minutes. Another Heat center, Michael Dunigan, made an impression with seven points, seven rebounds and three blocks in 16 minutes. Dunigan, an Oregon alumnus, played the past three seasons overseas.
Ian Clark, a skilled three-point shooter, started for the Heat at point guard for the second game in a row and scored 15 points. The Heat’s next summer league game is at 1 p.m. Thursday against Detroit, on NBA TV.