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Riley: Heat Is Planning to Sign Mourning

Wednesday, February 16, 2005; Page D02

Shortly after Alonzo Mourning cleared waivers yesterday morning, he underwent an "extensive physical" for the Miami Heat, which intends to sign him in the coming days, Heat President Pat Riley said. Riley said he expected Mourning to be able to join the Heat for practice Monday in Chicago after the all-star break.

Mourning, who negotiated a buyout with the Toronto Raptors and is expected to sign for a prorated portion of the veterans' minimum salary ($1.1 million), likely will back up Shaquille O'Neal at center.

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A former all-star who developed a kidney disease four years ago, Mourning played for Miami for eight years. He underwent a kidney transplant 14 months ago, playing just 30 games in parts of two seasons with the New Jersey Nets, who traded him to Toronto Dec. 17.

This is not about sentiment," Riley said. "It's about winning. We want to win. . . . We felt we needed another force up front."

Riley dismissed concerns about Mourning's presence disrupting the chemistry of the Heat, whose 39-14 record leads the Eastern Conference.

"He's very smart, very bright," Riley said. "He just wants to fit in. I don't think there's going to be any problem."

-- Amy Shipley

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