Damon Jones decided not to exercise the option year of his contract with the Heat yesterday and was to become a free agent. Jones, the Heat's starting point guard this past season, had until midnight last night to invoke a $2.75 million option for 2005-06. He can negotiate with teams starting today, but cannot sign with the Heat or any other club until July 22.
He's one of several Miami players whose status for next season is still undecided. The Heat is expected to begin negotiating with Shaquille O'Neal on a longer-term deal today; O'Neal is owed $30.6 million for the final year of his existing contract with Miami.
Keyon Dooling, who played a key role as a reserve guard for the Heat, is also expected to become a free agent although he, too, hasn't ruled out a return to Miami. Plus, the team has already extended a qualifying offer to starting F Udonis Haslem, a move that gives the Heat the right to match any offer he gets from another club.
* SONICS' OFFERS: Seattle extended qualifying offers to four restricted free agents, including key reserve F Vladimir Radmanovic and starting F Reggie Evans. Ronald Murray and Damien Wilkins also got offers. The Sonics have five other players who can become free agents, including Gs Ray Allen and Antonio Daniels.
-- From News Services