Welcome back to Miami: Eddie Jones returns

Updated: February 2, 2007, 12:10 AM ET
Associated Press

MIAMI -- Eddie Jones missed being part of the Miami Heat's first NBA championship. He will, however, play a role in the title defense.

Eddie Jones

The 35-year-old guard, one of Miami's most popular players from 2000 through 2005, signed a contract Thursday to return to the Heat. The deal came two days after Jones was waived by the Memphis Grizzlies, who acquired him from Miami as part of a 13-player, five-team trade in August 2005.

When the South Florida native became available, the Heat acted quickly to bring him home.

"I'm just happy to be in a situation where you've got an opportunity to do something great," Jones said before the Heat's game with Cleveland on Thursday. "That's the bottom line."

Jones was on Miami's active roster, but didn't play in the Heat's 92-89 win over the Cavaliers. To make room for Jones on the roster, Miami waived rookie guard Robert Hite, who was charged with driving under the influence in Miami Beach on Jan. 21 and hadn't been with the team since.

Jones was almost a non-factor in Memphis for much of the season, playing in only 29 games and averaging career-lows in points (5.6), minutes (19.3) and shooting (37.7 percent from the floor, 29.7 percent from 3-point range).

"We've brought a member of the Heat's family back into the fold," said Heat president Pat Riley, who is taking a break from coaching while recovering from knee and hip surgeries.

But both Jones and the Heat believe he's got something left.

"I think it's a great move. I really do," Heat interim coach Ron Rothstein said. "Eddie's a pro. He knows how to play. He brings it, gives you what he has. I think it's a great addition."

Added Heat guard Dwyane Wade: "With Eddie Jones, you get a professional. You get a stand-up guy in the locker room, in addition to a guy who has leadership qualities, and on the court you get a guy who's a great defender and a guy who can make shots."

Jones has averaged 15.7 points in his NBA career and ranks among the Heat's all-time leaders in several statistical categories.

The Heat's win Thursday improved their record to 21-25, 6½ games behind Washington in the Southeast Division and in the race for the Eastern Conference's best overall record.

"This team is going to get right," Jones said. "And when they get right, the East is ... you know what the East is. There isn't anybody running away with it."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press