Heat coach Pat Riley says Luke Jackson is more than just a shooter and that Penny Hardaway still might return to the team.
But in signing Jackson and waving Hardaway after the veteran couldn’t find his shot during his NBA comeback, it’s clear Riley thought the Heat needed more outside pop.
“He’s a shooter,” Heat guard Jason Williams said of Jackson, “and obviously we need shooters around here.”
The Heat needs them after it lost Jason Kapono, James Posey and Eddie Jones in free agency over the summer. Without those three, the Heat ranked 15th in 3-point shooting percentage and 26th in 3-pointers made entering Wednesday.
Enter Jackson, 26, who joined the Heat for its practice Wednesday at AmericanAirlines Arena. He was playing for Idaho of the NBA’s Developmental League last week but was a first-round pick for Cleveland in 2004 and has a career .356 shooting percentage on 3-pointers in 59 NBA games.
“He’s a 3-point shooter, a versatile player,” Riley said. “He’s young. I’ve decided that, with Dwyane [Wade] and Shaquille [O’Neal] back that’s what we need is energy.”
The 6-foot-7 Jackson played in 10 games for Toronto last season. Cleveland selected him 10th overall in the 2004 draft out of Oregon, but Jackson struggled with injuries in two seasons with the Cavaliers. He also played in three games with the Clippers in 2006-07.
Jackson scored 30 points in his only appearance with Idaho last week, leading to an audition for the Heat over the weekend. He said health isn’t an issue and he’s ready to contribute.
“First and foremost I am a competitor, and I can shoot the ball,” Jackson said. “There are a lot of double teams on [O’Neal and Wade] and hopefully I can come in at some point and make a few shots.”
That was essentially Kapono’s role for the Heat in 2006-07, when he led the NBA in 3-point shooting percentage. Kapono signed with Toronto after the season, a move that factored into the Raptors waving Jackson at the end of training camp.
Hardaway’s comeback after nearly two full years out of the league is over after 16 games and eight starts with the Heat. Hardaway, 36, had a non-guaranteed contract at the veteran’s minimum.
Hardaway averaged 3.8 points on .367 shooting. Dorell Wright replaced him in the starting lineup last Thursday in Portland after Hardaway failed to score in consecutive games.
“If we were 15-6 I wouldn’t have made the move,” Riley said, adding that there’s a chance Hardaway could return at some point this season.
Source:Â Sun Sentinel