REBELS BASKETBALL:

If brought back, Joel Anthony could fill holes for star-studded Heat

Former Rebels ‘glue guy’ still a free agent, but could be Miami’s best option at center

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AP FILE PHOTO

Miami Heat center and UNLV product Joel Anthony fouls Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett during the second quarter of Game 1 in the first round of their NBA Playoffs series in Boston on April 17, 2010.

Folks in Cleveland burned LeBron James jerseys Thursday night, and much of the nation seemed to make a pact to cheer against the NBA star for the rest of his career after he spurned his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers in a manufactured, nationally televised display.

Meanwhile, one person who most likely was grinning uncontrollably was former UNLV center Joel Anthony, who may be returning to Miami for a fourth season and could find himself one of the guys who fills in the few holes between the superstar trio of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

After helping lead UNLV to the Sweet Sixteen as a senior in 2007, Anthony was picked up as an undrafted free agent by the Heat and has averaged a modest 2.6 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game during the past three seasons.

However, the Miami front office and coaching staff long has been high on what the 6-foot-9, 245-pound Canadian has to offer, including a willingness to do the little things not found on the stat sheet. He's also proven to be a solid defender in the post at basketball's highest level.

"I would think so," UNLV coach Lon Kruger said when asked if he thought Anthony would remain a good fit in Miami. "He's no-maintenance from an ego standpoint. He doesn't need any shots. He'll rebound, he'll separate screens, he blocks shots. The Heat coaches love what he's done.

"It will be a contract situation — does his contract fit what they need to fill out the roster? Hopefully it does, because it'd be nice to see him have that opportunity."

Anthony has earned $1,964,177 in his three seasons at Miami, making him somewhat of a bargain for a center logging right around 20 minutes a night. In 2009-10, he made $825,497 and was a restricted free agent entering this summer's highly anticipated meat market.

The Heat have played their cards right with Anthony so far, extending a qualifying offer to him two weeks ago, meaning the team can match any other franchise's offer to him, but it also ties up an extra $1.06 million against the team's salary cap next season.

In today's NBA terms, that sum of money might not sound like much, but it is right now to the Heat, who are somewhat strapped for cash by inking three players who will make between $15 and $20 million per season.

The salary cap for next season has been set at $58 million.

The Heat created a bit of wiggle room Thursday by shipping third-year forward Michael Beasley — the second overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft — to Minnesota.

But outside of the three big names, the only player under contract is third-year point guard Mario Chalmers.

The other players currently in the fold are a trio of second-round selections the Heat made last month in the NBA Draft — West Virginia swingman Da'Sean Butler, who suffered a torn ACL in April's Final Four, Texas center Dexter Pittman and Mississippi State power forward Jarvis Varnado.

In a diminishing pool of available, experienced big men, a guy who the Heat brass knows it can count on might emerge as the best option out there.

No matter who the Heat fill in the rest of their roster with, Kruger — who coached the NBA's Atlanta Hawks from 2000-03 — said he doesn't think having three megastars on one squad will lead to internal troubles.

"They'll make it work," he said. "Goodness, they made the decision to go there with their eyes wide open, and I'd be real surprised if they don't make it work real well.

"I'd be shocked if it didn't."

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  1. Great to see him playing at the next level, and very well I might add.

  2. Kruger has no business speaking about anything related to the NBA. The guy was a complete failure at that level because he doesn't know how to handle elite talent and egos. That's why UNLV will never have elite talent. We will have to do with mediocre talent and continue to be the little engine that could.

    As far as Joel, he should take any offer from any team possible and just be happy he's on a roster. He is, quite possibly, the biggest lack of talent that has ever worn an NBA uniform. He has no skills whatsoever. He does work hard, though. Congrats to him.

  3. ithougtso...so if Lon is a failure at the NBA level, what experience gives you the right to comment on what Lon says? You must have reached a few Sweet 16's.

    It's great to see a guy like Joel make it in the NBA. Watching him his junior year was intriguing....It was amazing to watch a player make so much of a difference in a game without touching the ball. He re-directed every shot around the basket.

    Go Rebels...Go Lon.

  4. Hey ithoughtso ... you sound an aweful lot like Rebel Robert aka Sufferin' ... how many aliases do you need?

    While I can't bring myself to root for the Heat, it would be a great opportunity for Joel to play alongside such great talent.

    Go Rebs! Go anybody but LA and Miami too!

  5. ithoughtso/sufferinsuccotash/RebelRobert....I guess you didn't see that Anthony was top 5 in blocked shots per 48 minutes, in the ENTIRE NBA... That is the problem with you, you know nothing about basketball, football, or any other sport, but you sure do have an opinion!

    As for Kruger being a "failure"...that's hilarious considering you couldn't even keep a job in UNLV's athletic department, and it was a VOLUNTEERED/UNPAID position....lol!!! Losers calling other people losers, good stuff!

  6. by the way, congrats to Joel. Just like Kruger said, Riley has said that Joel's the hardest working player on the team. He works hard to improve every day, and since he didn't even start playing basketball since his senior year in HS, he's got a ton of upside.

    Joel Anthony and Louis Amundson both make me proud as a UNLV Alum....two hard working players that maximize their talents, and have been rewarded for doing so.

  7. What's so interesting is Anthony and Amundson's work ethic. Though they had to work hard in college and now the pros, they never let up and now it has paid off handsomely for them. Not just in terms of salary but in terms of respect and recognition from peers and fans alike. Congrats to both of them and I hope it works out for Anthony. Funny, its one of the first things I thought too is that they just need someone to rebound, block shots, set screens and run the court. All of which Anthony does very well.

    ithoughtso. Really? What you said was nothing short of mean-spirited and trite. Absolutely nothing constructive. You obviously have some VERY serious issues to deal with. Have you seen someone yet - you know like a psychiatrist - because you obviously need some help.

  8. Hahahah...sufferin/Robert...I am sure you will be banned again soon. =)

  9. great to see former MWC Defensive POY, Joel Anthony, doing so well.

  10. What would be ideal for the Heat would be a Trade for Steve Nash. I know it may not be possible, but i think if they aquired him theyd be unstoppable. Also, they should look at signing free agent Tony Allen- otherwise known as the man who shuts down Kobe.

  11. will tre von willis be back

  12. If the Heat steal Derrick Fisher from LA and get Joel Anthony, look out for Miami. They are gonna be a tough team to beat.

  13. It'll be interesting to watch how this Heat team turns out. It would be great if Joel Anthony gets playing time. I love to see Rebel success in the NBA. However, I have a feeling every washed up "has-been" without a championship ring will be willing to be traded for the league minimum to play with those 3 stars. I hope that doesn't happen.

  14. Nice to see Joel getting paid. Heat signed him to a 5 year $18 million deal yesterday. A 9x raise sounds good to me too.

  15. http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news?slug=ap...

    I read Joel Anthony signs with heat on yahoo and I, of course, come to The Sun to see what they have to say about it. Are you guys on vacation or something? How about an update on Willis?

  16. Not bad for a guy with no talent. Heh.