Heat sign Mike Bibby

Updated: March 2, 2011, 11:51 PM ET
By Michael Wallace | ESPN.com

MIAMI -- The Miami Heat cleared room on their roster Tuesday for the expected addition of free-agent point guard Mike Bibby by releasing seldom-used guard Carlos Arroyo.

On Wednesday, Miami officially signed Bibby, who was released by the Washington Wizards after reaching a buyout agreement in which he gave up next year's $6.2 million salary.

Bibby is expected to be with the Heat when they host Orlando on Thursday. Heat president Pat Riley says the signing moves Miami "into the direction of our championship dreams."

"This was a very difficult decision to make because Carlos has done a great job for this team and this organization," Riley said Tuesday. "He is truly a first class individual and professional. We wish him nothing but the best."

But the Heat's players were already in a welcoming mood for Bibby, who officially clears waivers at 6 p.m. ET Wednesday. Heat forward LeBron James said he was on the verge of becoming teammates with Bibby in Cleveland several years ago before the veteran guard was traded from Sacramento to Atlanta.

This time James won't miss out on sharing a perimeter role with Bibby.

"A few years ago, we tried -- we had an opportunity to get him in Cleveland," James said after Tuesday's 2½-hour team film study and practice session. "It didn't work out, when he was getting traded away from Sacramento and went to Atlanta. So I've had some conversations with him and said, 'It would be good to have you as our point guard.' It's good that it's come full circle."

"I think it's a big thing for us," said Heat guard Eddie House, Bibby's brother-in-law. "He's going to do a lot of things that can help LeBron, Dwyane and everyone else around here."

Bibby has averaged 15.4 points and 5.7 assists over 13 seasons, which has included stints with the Grizzlies, Kings and Hawks before he was traded by Atlanta last week and played one game with the Wizards. The Heat moved a step closer to officially adding Bibby on the same day they lost out on their quest to acquire free-agent forward Troy Murphy, who agreed to sign with the Boston Celtics.

The Heat have been looking for stability at point guard, a position that has been widely viewed as one of the weakest spots on a roster anchored by James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Arroyo, a nine-year veteran, opened the season as the starter but was replaced in January by Mario Chalmers.

Arroyo has averaged 5.6 points and two assists this season. Chalmers has been inconsistent since taking over as the starter and has not been on the court late in games. Bibby, who is shooting a career-best 44.1 percent from 3-point range this season, is expected to better spread the floor and run the offense. He already has ties to Heat assistant coach Dave Fizdale, who was an assistant in Atlanta during Bibby's four seasons with the Hawks.

Spoelstra would not speak specifically about Bibby, but said a veteran point guard should be able to adapt to the Heat's system on the fly. Miami (43-17) is in the most critical stretch of its schedule, and faces the Orlando Magic on Thursday, visits San Antonio on Friday and returns home to play the Chicago Bulls on Sunday. The Celtics, Heat and Bulls are separated by two games atop the East.

"It's easier with veteran players with higher IQs," Spoelstra said of trying to work a new player into the mix with six weeks left in the season. "And if you have a definite system and philosophy, which we do, it's easier to incorporate [new] players."

Wade said sharing the backcourt with Bibby would be similar to his time playing alongside Jason Williams during the Heat's 2005-06 championship season.

"It will be good to have a veteran, experienced point guard -- someone who can control games, someone that knows how to give the ball up at certain times and knock down big shots," Wade said. "Spread the floor, make great decisions and [create] a lot of easy baskets. It's not going to happen fast, but it's something we can work out with Mike."

Wade also said Bibby's move from Atlanta to Washington, and then to the free-agent market, has been one of the more intriguing set of transactions he's seen during a week of significant movement in the league since last week's trade deadline.

"I'm an ESPN guy," Wade said of keeping up with all of the deals. "I watch it. I've got the iPad and all of that stuff. I'm on the computer so I get to see what's going on. Certain moves are surprising and unexpected. The Mike Bibby move was probably the most surprising and unexpected. A lot of people thought it was the Kendrick Perkins move. But I think it was Mike Bibby."

Michael Wallace covers the Heat for ESPN.com.

ALSO SEE