Miami Heat

Heat signs veteran Gerald Green to improve bench, long-range shooting

Phoenix Sunís Gerald Green (14) drives the ball to the basket during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014, in Indianapolis. Green had a game-high 23 points. The Suns defeated the Pacers 106-83.
Phoenix Sunís Gerald Green (14) drives the ball to the basket during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014, in Indianapolis. Green had a game-high 23 points. The Suns defeated the Pacers 106-83. AP

New Miami Heat swingman Gerald Green doesn’t have all 10 fingers. But what he does have is impressive athleticism, an explosive offensive game and a deft three-point touch.

Green on Thursday signed a one-year deal for $1.4 million, the league minimum for players with eight years of NBA service and a bargain for a player who was fourth in the NBA in three-pointers two seasons ago.

"We are fortunate to be able to sign a proven veteran like Gerald," Heat president Pat Riley said. "He is a dynamic talent who possesses great athleticism and has the ability to shoot from distance and spread the floor. He'll be a perfect complement to our team."

Meanwhile, the Heat hopes to sign six-time All-Star Amar'e Stoudemire. There is mutual interest between the parties, according to two sources, and ESPN New York reported a deal is "close."

Stoudemire has a home in Miami and likes the idea of playing here. He will meet with Heat president Pat Riley on Friday morning.

Green’s acquisition not only significantly improves the Heat’s bench but also addresses Miami’s need for long-range shooting. The Heat ranked 24th in the NBA in three-point percentage last season.

“He can make shots, unbelievable shots that some players, they’re really afraid to take those shots. But he’s not,” said Heat guard Goran Dragic, who played with Green in Phoenix. “He’s an unbelievable player.”

Green, 6-8, has shot 36.8 percent from three-point range in his career, higher than any other guard or small forward on the Heat roster except Tyler Johnson.

The 29-year-old Green has done it despite losing a significant portion of his right ring finger in a basketball accident in the sixth grade.

Green was wearing his mother’s class ring when he tried to dunk on a makeshift rim. The ring caught on a nail and ripped his finger down to the bone. Doctors said the only option was amputation near the middle knuckle.

Green overcame that setback, starred at Gulf Shores Academy in Houston and was ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 1 high school player in the class of 2005. But he decided to turn pro instead of attending Oklahoma State and the Celtics drafted Green 18th overall.

He won the NBA’s Slam Dunk contest in 2007 but stability has been elusive; he played for six NBA teams, three NBDL franchises and teams in Russia and China before settling in with the Phoenix Suns the past two seasons.

Green enjoyed a breakout year with the Suns in 2013-14, averaging 15.8 points in 82 games, including 48 starts, and shooting 40 percent on threes.

But his numbers fell off in 74 games last season, including four starts, with Green averaging 11.9 points while shooting 41.6 percent overall from the field and 35.4 percent from three-point range.

“He’s a high motor; everybody knows he’s a really athletic guy,” Dragic said.

Green, who earned $3.5 million last season, hoped to command more than that in free agency but ultimately settled for a minimum deal.

Though the Heat has a $3.4 million taxpayer’s midlevel exception, Miami has been reluctant to use it because of the luxury tax implications. But the Heat is still courting veteran free agents.

Free agent shooting guard Marcus Thornton will meet with Heat officials in Miami Friday.

Even after Green agreed to terms, the Heat conveyed that it still wants Thornton to visit. Thornton is weighing options in addition to the Heat, including interest from New Orleans.

The Heat has been exploring possible trades that would reduce payroll and substantially lessen its luxury tax bill, which would exceed $25 million without additional moves. Mario Chalmers and Chris Andersen are among those believed to be available.

JOHNSON OUT

Guard Tyler Johnson sustained a broken jaw in Wednesday’s game against the Clippers and will miss the remainder of Summer League, which includes a game Friday in Orlando and at least five in Las Vegas.

Johnson, who also lost a tooth in that midcourt collision, has a contract that becomes partially guaranteed on Aug. 1. The Heat had planned to give Johnson an extended look at point guard during summer league.

▪ Journeyman center Willie Reed, who had impressed in four Summer League games, left the Heat on Thursday to accept an offer from the Brooklyn Nets, who were willing to guarantee $500,000 on the contract. With Reed departing, the Heat figures to give more minutes to Joshua Smith, a 6-foot-10, 360-pound center who went undrafted out of Georgetown.

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