Fisher meets with Heat in Miami
MIAMI -- A day after Miami's new superstar trio left money on the table, Heat executives tried to put the extra funds to use.
Team president Pat Riley and owner Micky Arison met with free agent point guard Derek Fisher for three hours at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in downtown Miami on Saturday and made Fisher a "compelling" offer, an NBA source told ESPNLosAngeles.com.
According to the source, the Heat told Fisher they envision him as their starting point guard and will hold off on offers to other players while he made his decision.
Riley declined to comment to The Associated Press on Saturday.
The Heat face competition for Fisher's services from the Los Angeles Lakers, Fisher's team for the past three seasons.
Sources told ESPNLosAngeles.com's Ramona Shelburne that negotiations between Fisher and the Lakers have remained positive and the team has put an offer on the table that was stronger than what's been previously reported (one year, $2.5 million).
Fisher met with Miami the day after the team lavishly introduced LeBron James and Chris Bosh as Dwyane Wade's newest teammates. James, Bosh and Wade all will make less than the $16.6 million they could have commanded next season, giving Miami the chance to lure other players.
"It's about sacrifice now," Wade said.
While Fisher could be a key piece of a championship contender in Miami, he has been part of all five Lakers' championships in the Kobe Bryant era, four of them as a starter.
Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak told ESPNLosAngeles.com's Dave McMenamin on Saturday that negotiations with Fisher were "ongoing" and that he wasn't surprised by Fisher's meeting with the Heat.
"I'm in communication with his representative. If something like [a face-to-face meeting when Fisher returns from Miami] is necessary, that's not a problem," Kupchak said. "But it's not like we don't know Derek and Derek doesn't know us, so I'm not sure that's necessary."
James, Bosh and Wade all signed six-year contracts. The value of James and Bosh's deals is nearly $111 million, while Wade took around $107 million. They could have received about $125.5 million apiece if they had taken the maximum value allowed under the current collective bargaining agreement.
If something like [a face-to-face meeting when Fisher returns from Miami] is necessary, that's not a problem. But it's not like we don't know Derek and Derek doesn't know us, so I'm not sure that's necessary.” -- Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak to ESPNLosAngeles.com on negotiations with Derek Fisher
James, not content to let money do the talking, met Fisher at the airport and gave his own pitch as to why the five-time NBA champion should join forces with James, sources with knowledge of the situation told Shelburne.
It was a short meeting, as James was at the airport and on his way to New York to attend Denver star Carmelo Anthony's wedding Saturday evening.
But James clearly went out of his way to wait for Fisher to arrive and meet with him for a few minutes.
"What we signed for is not important," James said Friday night at Miami's welcome celebration. "One thing that is important is we all sacrificed money, sacrificed a lot of things to be a part of this. But what we signed for is not important. What we're going to do this coming fall is what's most important."
Wade, James and Bosh have all given names to Riley of various players they would like to see join the Heat.
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported Saturday that Miami has had contact with forward Juwan Howard. Other free agents who are known to have expressed interest in Miami include Raja Bell, Chris Quinn, Quentin Richardson and Jamaal Magloire, and the Heat still have the rights to restricted center Joel Anthony.
Miami lost out on swingman Dorell Wright. The swingman who spent his first six seasons in Miami agreed in principle to a three-year deal Saturday with Golden State.
Wade said after Miami's season ended in May that he hoped Wright -- one of his closest friends -- would return to Miami. But on his Twitter feed late Saturday night, Wade offered congratulations, saying "I'm a proud big bro."
"He's been a part of this with me for seven years. ... We want Udonis back and we're going to do everything we can to make sure Udonis stays home," Wade said Friday night.
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Riley said Friday that there "might be some good news" about Haslem's status with the Heat in the coming days.
Whether the Heat sign Fisher, Miller or Haslem, Miami's NFL team appears content with their NBA counterpart's confirmed additions.
The Miami Dolphins took out full-page ads in Sunday's editions of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Palm Beach Post and The Miami Herald, thanking Wade for staying with the Heat and welcoming James and Bosh to the region.
"Congratulations to the Miami Heat organization on a huge week," the ad says.
The Heat and Dolphins have always had a friendly relationship. Dolphins players are regularly courtside at NBA games, Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino is a longtime fan and Dolphins coach Tony Sparano was invited to sit with Riley for a game this past season.
While Haslem would round out the Heat's frontcourt, Fisher would be a key piece surrounding a trio that is likely to dominate the ball. He averaged 7.5 points and 2.5 assists while starting all 82 regular-season games last season for the Lakers. In the playoffs, he averaged 10.3 points and 2.8 assists, again the starter in all 23 postseason contests.
Fisher has stated consistently that his preference was to return to the Lakers, but that he wanted to explore his options.
Negotiations between the Lakers and Fisher remain positive, according to sources close to the discussions. Still, the free-agent negotiating period began July 1, and official signings started taking place Thursday.
During that time Fisher has had multiple conversations with both Kupchak and Riley.
Earlier in the week, Bryant expressed support for Fisher, who entered the NBA with him back in 1996.
"We need to have him back, it's as simple as that," Bryant told ESPNLosAngeles.com's McMenamin at his Kobe Bryant Skills Academy on the UC Santa Barbara campus. "It's not a question of if he will be back; it's a matter of when.
"I don't care what [the cost] is. ... They need to work that out and get him back because his significance to our ballclub and to me cannot be understated."
Last week, a source close to the negotiations told ESPN The Magazine's Ric Bucher that the Lakers are confident the point guard will return to the Lakers next season.
But the Heat may not let that happen.
ESPNLosAngeles.com's Ramona Shelburne and Dave McMenamin, ESPN The Magazine's Ric Bucher and The Associated Press contributed to this report.