Monday , Jul , 16 , 2007 Oly Sandor

Miami Heat Must Do More Than Re-sign Alonzo Mourning

Over the weekend, the Heat and warrior Alonzo Mourning agreed to terms on a one year contract … Zo is a great back-up player … But ‘The MIA’ needs to make other changes if they are going to compete in the Eastern Conference … Click here for news and analysis …

The Associated Press updates Alonzo Mourning’s status:

Alonzo Mourning is coming back, one more time.

Ending nearly three months of suspense about his future, the Miami Heat center said Sunday night at his annual Zo’s Summer Groove charity game that he’ll play again next season — a choice he kept secret to the end, insisting he was still deciding just hours before the actual announcement.

Truth was, Mourning’s decision was made weeks ago. The Heat’s reign as NBA champions ended with a first-round sweep this past season by the Chicago Bulls, and he simply isn’t willing to let that be the final chapter in the book he’s writing on his career.

"I want to redeem myself and try to help this team redeem ourselves as an organization and try to get back on track," Mourning said. "That wasn’t the Miami team you saw in the playoffs last year. … I was embarrassed. I was truly embarrassed by that outcome. I know for a fact we’re a better team. It left a sour taste in my mouth and it’s time to really end it all on the right note."

This was the third straight summer Mourning considered retirement before choosing to keep playing. Next season will be his 15th in the NBA, not including a full year he missed with kidney problems that led to him getting a transplant in 2003.

"It will definitely be my last year," Mourning said.

Mourning averaged 8.6 points last season for the Heat, and his 5.44 blocks per 48 minutes led the NBA by a wide margin. He started more than half of Miami’s games last season while Shaquille O’Neal recovered from knee surgery, and the Heat clearly wanted him back — especially since his $2.8 million salary for next season makes the seven-time All-Star a bargain.

My Quick Take: will help the . No question about it. The veteran is the best back-up center in the NBA. He rebounds. He scores. He blocks shots. And he drops the most vicious death stare in professional sports.

But bringing back Mourning is not enough. It’s not even close. The Heat, if they want to compete in the Eastern Conference, has to change their apathetic attitude.

Last year, Miami defined enigma; fans and coaches never knew what team would show up from game-to-game. Of course, the players laughed off their inconsistency, insisting the World Champions would punch the clock come playoff time. 

When the post-season arrived, rolled through Miami like a teenage celebrity rolling through South Beach nightclubs. They got exposed and embarrassed.  And the club clearly needed an injection of youth, athleticism, and hunger.

But the Heat already has 66 million dollars on the books for next year. The dollar-for-dollar luxury tax sits at 67 million dollars, so the team can only offer free agents, like , the mid-level exception. A trade may be the only way to upgrade and ’s supporting cast.

Keeping Mourning is a step in the right direction for Miami. But it’s just one step. Much more is needed.

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