SBD/7/Franchises

HEAT REPORTEDLY TO BAIL ON HOWARD ARBITRATION

     The Heat has withdrawn its claim on Juwan Howard meaning the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).
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