The Birdman has come to South Florida. The Miami Heat signed center Chris "Birdman" Andersen to a 10-day contract Sunday, attending practice with the rest of the Heat in hopes of shoring up the team's frontcourt defense.
"This opportunity and being with the defending champs, it's a dream come true," Andersen said. "They're taking a chance with me and I'm here to give them everything I've got, defensively, diving on the floor, blocking shots, you know, the usual that a Birdman does and what Birdman brings."
The Heat are intrigued by Andersen's potential, something which is not always available in the free agent pool during midseason.
"Typically, you're not able to get a player of his caliber at this time of year," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "But three years ago he was the best in the game coming off the bench at his position, as a shot-blocker and a rebounder. We've always liked him. We had him in our camp a long time ago, when he was just coming up in this league, pre-tattoo, and we liked him back then. Ever since then we've searched for ways to get him back."
The Heat worked out Andersen earlier this month, but did not sign him right away. Instead, he kept working out in South Florida while the team finished off a six-game road trip last week.
Andersen will be tasked with helping the Heat improve its rebounding (Miami is 23rd in the NBA in defensive rebounding percentage with 72.3, and last with a 20.9 offensive rebounding percentage). The Heat were doubtless also enticed by his shot-blocking ability, he's averaged 1.6 blocks per game through his ten-year career.
Through ten seasons, Andersen has averaged 5.4 points and 5.2 rebounds per game, almost exclusively as a bench player. "I'm here to help assist in any kind of rebounding or defense that I can provide to an already outstanding team who are defending champions," Andersen said. "And I'm just ecstatic to be here and I'm ready to get back to blockin' and rollin'."
Andersen has not appeared in a game this season. He was waived by the Denver Nuggets in July through the amnesty clause. He said he had his left knee scoped in August, but has been able to work out while waiting for a team to come calling. "That ain't gonna keep the Birdman from flyin' and getting in there and getting some rebounds and bangin' and playin' hard," he said.
His new teammates are cautiously optimistic he can help out. "We love guys with chips who feel like they've got something to prove for a lot of teams not giving them an opportunity," Heat forward LeBron James said. "Hopefully he plays with that type of intensity."
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