Mourning re-signs with Heat, eyes repeat

MIAMI -- Alonzo Mourning re-signed with the Miami Heat on Friday, a formality after the veteran center announced last month he would return for the coming season and help the team defend its NBA championship.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Mourning played last season for the veterans' minimum salary of about $1.1 million; the new deal was not expected to be significantly different.

"It's obviously great to have Zo back," Heat coach Pat Riley said in a statement released by the team. "We know how important he is to the city, this franchise, and in helping us try to repeat as NBA champions. It's a good day."

Mourning, who underwent a kidney transplant in December 2003, announced July 15 that he would be back in Miami for his 14th NBA season.

He averaged 7.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.66 blocks, making 20 starts as Shaquille O'Neal's backup and ranking third in the NBA in blocks per game.

"I love this organization, the fans and the whole South Florida community and I'm happy to have the opportunity to join my teammates and defend our championship this season," Mourning said. "I look forward to one day retiring as a member of the Heat, but right now, I feel great and can't wait to get out on the court and try to repeat."

With Mourning re-signed, the Heat have seven members of their eight-man playoff rotation under contract for next season. The only player not signed is veteran guard Gary Payton, who has said he intends to play a 17th season and would like to stay in Miami.

Mourning, a seven-time All-Star, is Miami's all-time leader in games played (491), blocked shots (1,405), free throws made (2,328) and free throws attempted (3,512). He was a key part of the Heat's rotation last season, and he had eight points, six rebounds and five blocked shots -- in 14 minutes -- in Miami's title-clinching victory over Dallas in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.