The Miami Heat can now finally consider themselves legitimate title contenders.
The NBA season is just days away from beginning, and the Heat had built up a small amount of hype over the offseason. Today it was announced that the team has inked Jerry Stackhouse to a contract. Stackhouse was signed after it was previously announced small forward Mike Miller would be out until January with an injury.
The 36-year old Stackhouse played last season with the Milwaukee Bucks and averaged 8.5 ppg while shooting a very "Stack-esque" 40% from the field. The former NBA scoring leader will be the second player the Heat signed this offseason who at one time led the league in scoring.
The other was some guy named Lebron James.
No word on how much Stackhouse will be expected to contribute, given the Heat also have the younger James Jones who also plays the small forward position, and neither is expected to start. It's probable that Stackhouse will assume a team role similar to the one Gary Payton took on the team's last (and only) championship run; a veteran reserve who may be called on from time-to-time, but isn't expected to be an every game star.
Stackhouse was the third overall pick by the Philadelphia 76ers in 1995, and made the All-Rookie team averaging 19 ppg. But he was traded away to the Detroit Pistons following an unsuccesful attempt to team his talents alongside Allen Iverson.
Stackhouse rejuvenated his career in Detroit alongside Grant Hill. After Hill signed with the Orlando Magic in 2000, "Stack" led the league in scoring with 29 ppg in 2001, and led the team to the playoffs in 2002. He was traded by the Pistons to the Washington Wizards for Richard Hamilton that same offseason.
After two mediocre seasons in Washington playing alongside fellow North Carolina Tar Heel legend Michael Jordan, he traded again, this time to the Dallas Mavericks. Stackhouse spent five seasons in Dallas primarily as a 6th and 7th man. He played on the 2006 Mavericks who lost to the Heat in the Finals. Stackhouse was suspended for Game 5 of that Finals after a flagrant foul he committed against Shaquille O'Neal.