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Pat Riley finally gets Juwan Howard 14 years later

Jul 13, 2010, 7:49 PM EDT

PRiley.jpgIn the summer of 1996 — while you were watching a Charles Barkley-led Dream Team III roll to a gold medal in Atlanta — Juwan Howard was a rising star in the NBA. He was giving the Bullets 22 and 9 and he was just going into his third year in the league.

And Pat Riley wanted him. Badly. He even got him. Howard agreed to a seven-year, $100 million deal, even though he really wanted to stay in Washington.

Then the NBA voided the deal. Howard quickly signed a larger deal with Washington. And that may be as angry as Pat Riley ever was publicly with the NBA.

Fourteen years later, Riley finally got Howard again. He’s gotten a shell of that 23-year-old Howard, a guy who is much slower but also much more savvy. A guy who can still knock down some shots. A guy the Heat know cannot lead them to a title like he might have 14 years ago, but a guy who could provide some depth and glue to get there now.

Here’s what was going on in 1996 (besides you not being able to escape No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak” on the radio):

Riley got Howard to sign even though Howard’s heart was still really in Washington. Plus the Wizards could offer more money, but they were slow to act.

Then the league shot down the Miami signing because it said the Heat already had Alonzo Mourning under contract and combined with a previously miscounted bonus structure to Tim Hardaway and P. J. Brown there was not enough cap space.

Riley was incensed, as these quotes from the New York Times show.

”There was not one mistake made by us when it came to the salary cap,” Riley said in a conference call with reporters. ”We did not forget how to add. We never broke the rules. We played within the rules of the collective bargaining agreement. The only people who broke the rules were the N.B.A., because they changed the rules as they went along. That’s a fact.”

”Mickey Arison is one of the people who pays the commissioner’s salary,” Riley added, referring to the Heat’s owner. ”I have no idea why we didn’t get cooperation, despite the fact we were within the guidelines. They took Juwan Howard and put him with the team he wanted to be with. They didn’t want him down here….

”The day that Juwan Howard signed a contract with the Washington Bullets is the day I hit a new low in my 30 years in the N.B.A. I knew that once he signed that contract, we would probably never get him back, even if we took it to the Supreme Court and won it, because he wanted to stay in Washington. It’s very disconcerting to invest $100 million in a player, to go that far, know that you’re going to fight to keep him, and they just run to another deal.”

He’s got him now. And if he can help the SuperFriends that Riley has put together, the past will be all forgiven.

  1. Tony - Jul 13, 2010 at 9:28 PM

    Amazing the revisionist history by Pat Riley. Back in 1996 Alonzo Mourning goes on late night TV and is asked about where he was going to go as a free agent. He stated that he would sign with Miami as soon as Juwan Howard signed with Miami. Back then teams could sign other free agents and then re-sign their own even if it put them over the cap as long as there was no stated intention for the player to sign back with their own team. Since Mourning accidentally ratted out Riley, Miami was unable to sign Howard.
    Now 14 years later Riley has colluded again but this time is he allowed to get away with it. What a cheat…

  2. Tony - Jul 13, 2010 at 9:29 PM

    Amazing the revisionist history by Pat Riley. Back in 1996 Alonzo Mourning goes on late night TV and is asked about where he was going to go as a free agent. He stated that he would sign with Miami as soon as Juwan Howard signed with Miami. Back then teams could sign other free agents and then re-sign their own even if it put them over the cap as long as there was no stated intention for the player to sign back with their own team. Since Mourning accidentally ratted out Riley, Miami was unable to sign Howard.
    Now 14 years later Riley has colluded again but this time is he allowed to get away with it. What a cheat…

  3. Lion Woods - Jul 13, 2010 at 9:35 PM

    I am a huge fan of Pat Riley. I think for the Heat to be successful they will need hands on input from Pat Riley himself. Riles should dust off the 1987 Armani he wore with the Lakers… as for Juwon Howard signing… what Alan Houston wasn’t available? As for the surging Heat… I don’t think they have the right mix to make it out of the East let alone meeting the Lakers in June 2011. Nice try though… too bad the Pistons have become the T-Wolves.

  4. Lion Woods - Jul 13, 2010 at 9:47 PM

    Tony the rules are interpreted and as long as you work within the parameters set forth then all is fair in love and basketball. Go Lakers by the way.

  5. Jeff Tartarkin - Jul 13, 2010 at 10:01 PM

    I might be biased of course, but i don’t get why everyone is talking about riley being the great mastermind and what a genius he is. 4 other teams did the same thing as him, he had the advantage of wade doing the work for him. i wouldn’t think there’s much behind just dumping a roster, leaving yourself space to sign 3 free agents. whats the big deal?
    meanwhile, danny ainge TRADES for 2 all-stars/future hall of famers to a team with a rising point guard and one of the top defensive centers in the league. but pat riley really pulled out the stops to have his franchise player convince his two good friends to take a small pay cut (thanks florida taxes) and play in south beach. give me a break. celts in 6, on miami’s court

  6. Jav - Jul 13, 2010 at 11:22 PM

    Jeff, yes he cleared the roster, and Wade helped make the pitch. But one cannot deny Riley is the ultimate salesman. Those guys saw winning in Riley’s eyes. Also, as far as the celts in 6.The HEAT are going to manhandle those three old hall of famers.They had their final chance at a second title last year. Now every team in the league is going to get burned..

  7. David - Jul 14, 2010 at 12:18 AM

    Directed at Jeff Tartakin:
    Are you seriously placing Danny Ainge and Pat Riley in the same sentence? That is very idiotic. Pat Riley was the mastermind in the Lakers Dynasty in the 80’s. He then tried with the Knicks and made them a better team but just not enough. He arrived in Miami and did not have any talent. He brought in Zo and Tim, brought some great rivalries with the Knicks. He tried to master mind one heck of a trio if he would have landed Juwan Howard. Was able to give the Heat Shaq. Was able to trade away Shaq after he was old damaged goods. And then he was able to position himself to land the Super Trio this summer and still provide a playoff team for the 09-10 season. I still believe that this team doesn’t automatically but there chances are just as good as the Celtics, Magic, and Lakers. Celtics are old, slow, and not one of there trio is as good or better than one of the Heats trio. I believe the Magic have a chance bc of Howard but they can hack Howard all game, Magic can’t double team Wade and James. And a Zone defense they would tear up, this Team if determined cannot be stopped.

  8. Jeff Tartarkin - Jul 14, 2010 at 12:49 AM

    so essentially riley had a great run with the lakers and came up short all but once in the last 20 years. of course riley is a mile better at running a team than danny ainge, but don’t see how clearing cap space to land 2 all-stars is more impressive than trading for 2. and as for saying the the celtics are old and slow, i bet you all thought that during the playoffs as well when they made that run, old and slow

  9. hnirobert - Jul 14, 2010 at 8:00 AM

    you do realize that Garnett was a gift from McHale to his beloved Celts, and not so much a mastermind move by Ainge, correct?

  10. hnirobert - Jul 14, 2010 at 8:03 AM

    also, if it’s not for a man named Michael Jordan and Alonzo’s kidney you’d have to imagine one (or two) of Pat’s Knicks/Heat’s teams from the 90’s would’ve made a run.

  11. jeff - Jul 14, 2010 at 9:09 AM

    yeah and if tom brady didn’t get his knee blown out the pats would have made the playoffs two years ago. and if garnett wasn’t hurt two years ago they would have beat the magic. and if beckett was healthy against the rays they would have won the pennant. if joe thornton decided to play hockey in the playoffs, the bruins would have won the cup. i mean what does that even mean “if not for a man named michael jordan” what was he supposed to do? acknowledge that riley put a good team together so he should let up? minus zo’s kidney since it was severe, but injuries in general are part of the game, so is a player dominating in his prime. should belichick have gone up to peyton manning before teh AFC title game and say “hey bro, this will be our threepeat if we can get back to the super bowl so if you could just tank, that’d be sick, appreciate it man, thanks” doesn’t work like that
    i love it, garnett was a gift from mchale; trading a non-injury prone young al jefferson and 2 first round picks and cash for KG is a gift. same with trading jeff green and delonte for ray allen. i mean both teams said rondo had to be apart of the deals for both players. ainge said no and not only said no, made the trades while keeping his future PG. how is making those deals not considered better managing than dumping the roster for 3 players who’ve already agreed to playing with eachother probably months ago . get a grip. i never said ainge was a mastermind by anymeans, nor do i think he generally makes good transactions, but i would say he was more resourceful in putting together a title team using pretty solid players and a bunch of picks (all while keeping rondo) as opposed to relying on free agency and luck

  12. jeff - Jul 14, 2010 at 9:10 AM

    yeah and if tom brady didn’t get his knee blown out the pats would have made the playoffs two years ago. and if garnett wasn’t hurt two years ago they would have beat the magic. and if beckett was healthy against the rays they would have won the pennant. if joe thornton decided to play hockey in the playoffs, the bruins would have won the cup. i mean what does that even mean “if not for a man named michael jordan” what was he supposed to do? acknowledge that riley put a good team together so he should let up? minus zo’s kidney since it was severe, but injuries in general are part of the game, so is a player dominating in his prime. should belichick have gone up to peyton manning before teh AFC title game and say “hey bro, this will be our threepeat if we can get back to the super bowl so if you could just tank, that’d be sick, appreciate it man, thanks” doesn’t work like that
    i love it, garnett was a gift from mchale; trading a non-injury prone young al jefferson and 2 first round picks and cash for KG is a gift. same with trading jeff green and delonte for ray allen. i mean both teams said rondo had to be apart of the deals for both players. ainge said no and not only said no, made the trades while keeping his future PG. how is making those deals not considered better managing than dumping the roster for 3 players who’ve already agreed to playing with eachother probably months ago . get a grip. i never said ainge was a mastermind by anymeans, nor do i think he generally makes good transactions, but i would say he was more resourceful in putting together a title team using pretty solid players and a bunch of picks (all while keeping rondo) as opposed to relying on free agency and luck

  13. Crash - Jul 14, 2010 at 10:11 AM

    Hilarious – I grew up a celtics fan and if Ainge better than Riley in any aspect it’s on the court if anything. Ainge was clutch shooter and definitely contributed. But off the court, you can’t be serious? He traded for 2 veteran all stars at the end of their career. Yes they helped win a championship in Boston but that was three years ago and this was their last shot, that final shouldn’t even have gone 7 games. And everyone saw them run out of gas in the second half. As much as I hate the Lakers they are still the team to beat. Now im not proclaiming the Heat the team to beat in the East but for all you doubters out there that keep saying that they won’t have chemistry and there egos are going to clash? Just remember whe you were saying to yourself and everyone else that Lebron will never play in Miami with Wade and Bosh! No one called it!! Can’t wait for the season to start, I like this pick up of Howard, plus Haslem and Miller, Iguskus……not to bad!

  14. jeff - Jul 14, 2010 at 11:10 AM

    reading all these rebuttles combined with the girl i work with chewing with her F’ING mouth open is kiiiiilling me. i’m done with ainge/riley since i didn’t say ainge was a better GM. simply said i don’t see the big deal about what riley was able to do. and i still don’t get the “they never should have got there” nonsense. thats why they play the actual game and not go by whats on paper. i’m sure you said they were old and slow and gassed out the whole playoffs. probably picked heat in 6, then were certain the cavs and magic would win. which is obvious cause you’re saying they ran out of gas in the second half of their 106th game of their season. get a grip crash.. you grew up a celtics fan?
    p.s. this blog is way better than PFT, florio blows

  15. hnirobert - Jul 14, 2010 at 11:30 AM

    The reason Pat Riley is getting so much credit and love is because he wasn’t the only team to free up cap space (while they were the only one to free up enough space for 3). You also had the Knicks, Nets and Bulls, and the Bulls freed up enough space to sign two max free agents with a star in the making with Derrick Rose and a solid center on Joakim already on the roster. Pat got the three top free agent to take less than max deals. Yes, Florida does not have state tax, but do you think that really matters to some of these guys? Amar’e and Joe Johnson both took their max deals and ran with it. He sold these guys, especially Bosh who doesn’t get any type of endorsement deals, that he can sign all three for good money while being able to go out and get some solid pieces (Mike Miller and Udonis) to add to the bench… and he got them to take LESS money, too!
    Yes, Ainge’s trade was great, but considering what Pat just did and what he did in 2006 (largest trade in NBA history, in a 5-team, 13-player transaction) that’s why he’s considered such a great executive.
    And yes, Florio is a tool.

  16. Andrew - Jul 14, 2010 at 3:24 PM

    Not even a mention of j. Howard’s failed physical? That was the NBA’s justification for nixing the deal to Miami fifteen years ago….

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