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Newz Forum: BASKETBALL: Laettner looks forward to joining Heat, Shaq

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posted on Sep, 17 2004 @ 07:10 PM
MIAMI -- Christian Laettner wanted to play close to his home and for a winning team. The Miami Heat was an obvious choice, even before they traded for Shaquille O'Neal.

"Once Shaq got on the team, it was even more of a no-brainer," Laettner said.

Laettner, 35, signed a one-year contract Wednesday with the Heat for the veteran minimum of $1.1 million, sending him to a fourth team in less than three months.

Laettner was traded from Washington to Dallas earlier this summer. Then he was moved from Dallas to Golden State in an eight-player deal last month.

The Warriors waived Laettner last week.

Now, he finally is somewhere he wants to be.

"I wanted to play for a few more years and I wanted to be around my family," said Laettner, who lives in Ponte Vedra Beach near Jacksonville. "And I want to be on a team that's going to win. (Miami) meets a lot of criteria."

Laettner averaged 5.9 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 48 games for the Wizards last season. He was limited by back pain and then shuffled to the end of the bench after a five-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.

A member of the original Olympic Dream Team in 1992, Laettner has averaged 13.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists in his 12-year career with Minnesota, Atlanta, Detroit, Dallas and Washington.

His numbers have dropped significantly in recent years because of injuries and reduced playing time.

"It's part of the game," said Laettner, now known more for passing and shooting than for physical inside play. "It's part of getting older. It's not averaging 18 (points) and eight (rebounds) anymore. That's all part of it."

Laettner said his knees and back felt good and he believes he can contribute, especially playing alongside O'Neal.

"He makes it easier for everybody he plays with," Laettner said. "He takes up so much space that it opens up space for everybody else."

Laettner will compete with Udonis Haslem and Malik Allen for the starting role when training camp opens Oct. 5.

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