Miami Heat Sign Two-Time All-Star Swingman Jerry Stackhouse to Replace Injured Mike Miller

During the NBA offseason just past, after the signing of the “Three Kings” there was plenty of speculation as to who the Miami Heat would surround its three superstars, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh with.

Those questions were answered with the signings of Mike Miller, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Eddie House and others, as well as the re-signing of team leader Udonis Haslem.

However, one name that surfaced during all the craziness that was during this past summer was two-time NBA All-Star swingman Jerry Stackhouse. I myself believed Pat Riley and the Heat management would make him one of the additions to the team at the time, but it was not to be at that time.

Yet, with the injury to swingman Mike Miller that resulted in surgery yesterday to repair a broken thumb and torn ligaments, and which will keep him out of the lineup at least until January, Miami decided it needed the veteran presence of Stackhouse in order to give the Heat enough firepower from the perimeter to compete with the likes of Eastern Conference contenders like the Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic.

Stackhouse, who turns 36 next month, was signed to an undisclosed contract on Saturday, and is expected to practice with the Heat in a full-contact session on Sunday before accompanying the team to Boston on Monday for Tuesday’s season-opening matchup with the Celtics.

Stackhouse, who had lobbied to be a part of the Heat and join the trio of Wade, James, and Bosh, had the following to say about joining the team that denied him his best shot at winning a title with the Dallas Mavericks in 2006:

“This is a very exciting time in my basketball career. I’m ready to compete at the highest level.”

While many Miami fans who witnessed those 2006 NBA Finals might remember Jerry as the ‘bad guy’ for his leveling of Shaq in Game 4 of the series (he was forced to sit out of Game 5), Wade had nothing but praise for his newest teammate.

“He’s a very productive player,” Wade said. “He’s a guy who’s a matchup problem in the post. Also, he can stretch the floor, shoot the ball very well. It’s a good option … to be able to have the luxury of a guy like that out there that can add to your team.”

LeBron James seemed to echo that sentiment, saying, “He’s a proven guy, a proven in this league. A guy that can score, whether he’s in the starting lineup or even if he’s coming off the bench.”

While he’s never quite lived up to some of the hype placed unduly on him coming out of college, Stackhouse has had an incredibly productive career. When he was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers with the third overall pick in the 1995 NBA Draft, many considered him the “Next Jordan.”

Considering he’d played ball at the University of North Carolina, Michael Jordan’s alma mater, and was taken third overall like Mike, such comparisons were practically understandable.

After all, Stackhouse had been a phenom since his high school days, garnering the state player of the year award for North Carolina in 1991-92 as he led Kinston (N.C.) High School to the state finals during his sophomore year.

As a senior he played for Oak Hill Acadamy and led them to an undefeated season. He was also a two-time first team Parade All-American selection, and was the MVP of the McDonald’s Game that year.

After playing in the 1992 Nike Camp, he was, along with soon-to-be UNC teammate Rasheed Wallace, considered to be one of the top players at the camp.

Teamed up with perennial All-Star Allen Iverson when he first joined the Sixers, he and “The Answer” combined for a 44.2 points per game average for Philadelphia during the 1996-97 NBA season (Iverson’s rookie year).

He later was traded to Detroit along with Eric Montross for Theo Ratliff, Aaron McKie and future considerations, and became a legitimate star with the Pistons, averaging 23.6 points per game during the 1999-2000 season, his second year in the Motor City.

His third year with the pistons saw him take a step which made every one of those who’d hyped him as the “Next Jordan” confident they’d been absolutely correct, as he averaged a career-high 29.8 points per game that season, and set a Piston’s franchise record and NBA season high for that year scoring 57 points in a late-season victory over the Chicago Bulls.

However, when Detroit was eliminated in the second round of the 2001-02 NBA Playoffs, Stackhouse was dealt to the Washington Wizards in a six-player deal that involved Richard Hamilton coming to the Pistons, where he would serve as part of the squad that would lead Detroit back to a title.

In his first season with the Wizards, Stackhouse led Washington in points (21.5) and assists (4.5) per game. The following season he spent most of the year recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, only playing in 26 games.

During the 2004 offseason, he, along with Christian Laettner and the Wizard’s first-round draft pick (which turned out to be Devin Harris), were dealt to the Dallas Mavericks for All-Star Antawn Jamison, and was relegated mainly to the sixth-man role during his time in Texas.

That’s not to say he didn’t play a significant role for the Mavericks, for he did, especially during the 2005-06 playoffs and NBA Finals against the Miami Heat. I believe most Heat fans distinctly remember his play from that series, and not just because of the incident with Shaquille O’Neal.

So, here we are now, with Jerry a part of the Miami Heat family, and I for one welcome him with open arms. Although he only averaged 8.5 points per game in 42 games last season as a reserve on the Milwaukee Bucks bench, he’s a valuable asset who can light it up from three, post up, and has a pretty decent handle.

While he won’t be a star on this loaded Miami Heat South Beach Superteam, he will be a valuable member of the roster until we’re able to get Mike Miller healthy, and might possibly remain on the roster (if he plays well) even after Miller’s return.

Here’s hoping he can contribute right off the bat against the Boston Celtics on Tuesday. Perhaps he can level Shaq again, only this time he’d be doing us a favor.

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Tags: 1995 NBA Draft Aaron McKie Allen Iverson Boston Celtics Carolina Hurricanes Chris Bosh Christian Laettner Detroit Pistons Devin Harris Dwyane Wade Eric Montross Jerry Stackhouse Lebron James Miami Heat Michael Jordan Mike Miller Milwaukee Bucks NBA Orlando Magic Pat Riley Philadelphia 76ers Rasheed Wallace Richard Hamilton Theo Ratliff University Of North Carolina

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