Friday , Feb , 11 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

Mourning returning to Heat??

Miami, FL (Sports Network) – Alonzo Mourning could be returning to the Miami Heat.

On Friday, the Toronto Raptors reached an agreement with Mourning to buy out the remaining two years of his contract, thus clearing the way for him to become a free agent. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Mourning returning to Heat??

The Miami Herald reported that Mourning, who underwent a kidney transplant in December of 2003, expressed a desire to play for the Heat if he was able to negotiate a buyout with the Raptors.

Toronto acquired Mourning in mid-December along with forward Eric Williams, forward/center Aaron Williams and two conditional first-round draft picks from the New Jersey Nets in exchange for All-Star swingman Vince Carter.

However, Mourning refused to report to Toronto and has spent most of his time since the trade at his home in Miami. He has not played since December 7. In 18 contests with the Nets this season, he averaged 10.4 points and 7.1 rebounds per game.

“Since the trade, we have taken the time to fully understand Alonzo’s medical situation. Our doctors have thoroughly reviewed his records and consulted with other independent specialists and have determined that Alonzo does not meet our medical conditions to play for our basketball team,” said Raptors general manager Rob Babcock.

New Jersey signed the free agent Mourning to a four-year, $22 million contract prior to the 2003-04 campaign, but his time with the Nets that season lasted only 12 games because of a condition known as focal glomerulosclerosis. He was forced to stop playing on November 25, 2003 and underwent a kidney transplant less than a month later.

“While we realize it may be possible for him to play in limited circumstances, we’ve been able to confirm our expectations that because of his medical issues he would not be able to fit into our long-term strategy of building something sustainable,” added Babcock.

“We felt it was in the best interests of the Raptors to reach a financial settlement which would provide us additional financial flexibility. We are pleased with the deal we’ve been able to make and wish Alonzo the best in his future.”

The 6-10 center was picked second overall by the Charlotte Hornets in the 1992 NBA Draft. He was then traded along with LeRon Ellis and Pete Myers to Miami on November 3, 1995 for Glen Rice, Khalid Reeves, Matt Geiger and a 1996 first-round draft choice.

The 35-year-old Mourning twice received Defensive Player of the Year honors (1999 and 2000) with the Heat. He did not play for Miami in 2002-03 because of the kidney disorder.

Mourning is a seven-time All-Star who owns career averages of 19.8 points and 9.6 rebounds.