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HEAT REPORTEDLY TO BAIL ON HOWARD ARBITRATION
Published August 7, 1996
The Heat has withdrawn its claim on Juwan Howard meaning the free agent is free to re-sign with the Bullets, according to ESPN's David Aldridge. Howard had originally signed with the Heat, but the NBA ruled the deal violated league salary cap rules. The Bullets said they have heard nothing from the league, and no announcements were scheduled as of last night (ESPNET, 8/7). While NBA Exec VP & Chief Legal Officer Jeffrey Mishkin told the WASHINGTON POST they are "clearly not close to an agreement," he added, "I am very confident Juwan Howard will remain with Washington." Sources familiar with the talks say Heat President & Coach Pat Riley wants a waiver to re-sign free agents Walt Williams and Rex Chapman, both of whom he had renounced (Mark Asher, WASHINGTON POST, 8/7). The MIAMI HERALD also reports the NBA "was exerting pressure on the Heat" to give up on arbitration (Barry Jackson, MIAMI HERALD, 8/7). However, the Ft. Lauderdale SUN-SENTINEL reports the Heat will not abandon the fight and that the league denies any resolution. NBA spokesperson Chris Brienza: "As for the Heat giving up the fight for Juwan, that has not happened" (Robes Patton, Ft. Lauderdale SUN-SENTINEL, 8/7). Should they pursue the matter, the Heat could face "stiff penalties" -- as much as $5M in fines -- for violating league cap rules (Karen Goldberg, WASHINGTON TIMES, 8/7). OPINION: In DC, Michael Wilbon writes, "I'm wondering now whether the NBA was this offended by Miami's arrogance/ miscalculation, or more concerned over the outcry over losing the signature player in a city where a new building is going up" (WASHINGTON POST, 8/7). Knicks Coach Jeff van Gundy: "I can't believe there hasn't been an outcry by other teams in the NBA" (NEWSDAY, 8/7). In Miami, Greg Cote writes, "This smells foul, like something is seriously not right." Cote accuses Commissioner David Stern of letting "his obvious animus" toward Riley "run amok at the expense of his and the league's integrity" (MIAMI HERALD, 8/7). In Philadelphia, John Smallwood writes, "It's not far-fetched to think that what has happened is the NBA's way of giving Riley and the Heat a little payback for past transgressions and lessons not learned" (PHILA. DAILY NEWS, 8/7).