Posey will stay with Heat

Updated: June 30, 2006, 6:47 PM ET
Associated Press

MIAMI -- James Posey was a key part of the Miami Heat's run to the NBA championship. And he wants to be a part of the title defense, too.

Posey decided Friday to exercise his $6.4 million option to stay with the Heat next season, electing not to become a free agent. He and the Heat will likely talk about a longer-term deal in the coming weeks, but for now, Posey simply wanted to ensure he'd be back for the 2006-07 campaign.

"He won a championship and really enjoyed every moment of the experience in Miami," said Posey's agent, Mark Bartelstein. "It's a place he wants to be. We kind of went back and forth about testing the market, but he'll be a free agent next year in the prime of his career. He couldn't lose either way."

With the free agent window opening Saturday, Posey's decision answers one of many questions the Heat will face this summer.

Finals MVP Dwyane Wade is eligible for a five-year extension worth around $75 million, and neither side expects those negotiations to be stressful. Heat general manager Randy Pfund and Wade's agent, Henry Thomas, have already had conversations -- and negotiations could formally begin Saturday at 12:01 a.m.

"The academic part of it is we hope that Dwyane will extend his contract," Heat coach Pat Riley said Friday. "We will have the conversation, whether it's at midnight, or tomorrow morning or at a sensible time. And we will move forward with really taking care of that as our first order of business."

Backup center Alonzo Mourning may retire, veteran guard Gary Payton is a free agent who wants to return to Miami, and Shandon Anderson is also a free agent. Any or all of them could return to the Heat, but Riley indicated again that Miami's younger players may be getting a shot at cracking the rotation by next season.

"We want to address the fact that Dorell Wright, Jason Kapono, Earl Barron, Wayne Simien, from that standpoint, along with Dwyane and Udonis (Haslem), represent the young, under-25-year-old core of youth," Riley said. "We have to start thinking about them, because we put a lot of time and effort in them."

Riley hasn't set any deadlines for Mourning to make his decision.

Riley's status is also uncertain. He has been noncommittal in recent weeks about returning to the sideline, and still hasn't laid out any public timetable for his decision-making process.

"Right now, I'm sitting at my desk, doing my job," Riley said. "That's all that counts."

The Heat made one move before Posey's choice was revealed, picking up Kapono's $1.1 million contract for next season. Kapono averaged 4.1 points in 51 games last season for the Heat, making two starts. He appeared in one postseason game during Miami's run to the NBA championship.

In the free-agent period, the Heat expect to be active in trying to find backcourt depth, especially at the point. Starter Jason Williams will be having offseason knee surgery because of tendinitis and Payton, if he returns for a 17th season, will be 38 when training camp opens.

Miami is bringing three point guards for summer league play, and Riley said trades are still a possibility.

"There's a number of players out there who have experience, that have been playing big minutes, that we feel, at least from the information that we have, that could be had or could be available," Riley said. "And we will pursue those, if we have to. ... It's probably one of the most important positions that we have to protect."

Posey averaged 7.3 points and 5.7 rebounds during the playoffs for Miami, which beat the Dallas Mavericks in six games for the franchise's first NBA title. His 3-pointer late in Game 6 against Dallas helped seal Miami's championship-clinching 95-92 win.

Posey connected on 42.2 percent of his 3-pointers in the postseason, after hitting a career-best 40.3 percent from long range during the regular season. ^Note:@ Riley canceled hip-replacement surgery last year when he took over for Stan Van Gundy, and will have tests done soon to see how worse the joint has gotten since. "I will definitely address that as quickly as I can," Riley said.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index