- Marc Stein, ESPN Senior Writer
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The Miami Heat have traded guard Chris Quinn to the New Jersey Nets to create a roster spot and reduce their luxury-tax bill slightly before trying to re-sign the NBA's newest free agent: Rafer Alston.
The Heat sent Quinn, cash and a 2012 second-round pick to New Jersey in exchange for a protected 2010 second-rounder after the Nets completed their expected buyout of Alston.
The Nets used a trade exception to take on Quinn's $1 million contract and complete the trade. Two league sources told ESPN.com's Chris Sheridan that Alston agreed to give back nearly $1 million of his $5.25 million salary to gain his freedom from the Nets.
The Heat, who have been searching all season for a proven ballhandler to play next to Dwyane Wade, are the front-runners to sign Alston after he clears waivers.
Miami also has to decide whether to keep or release veteran guard Carlos Arroyo, who must be waived by Wednesday to prevent his contract from becoming guaranteed Jan. 10.
After trying to trade Alston's expiring contract without success, sources say New Jersey consented this week to reach a settlement on the remainder of the 33-year-old's salary this season, setting up Alston for a possible reunion with Wade after they played together when Wade was a rookie in 2003-04.
The Nets had recently stopped playing Alston as part of their determination to develop their youngest players after losing their first 18 games this season to set a new league record.
As recently as last season, Alston helped Orlando survive a long-term shoulder injury suffered by starter Jameer Nelson to reach the Finals for the second time in franchise history. Alston came to the rebuilding Nets in Orlando's trade for Vince Carter last June but has been hoping ever since to rejoin a contender.
Marc Stein is a senior NBA writer for ESPN.com.
3hMatt Walks, ESPN.com