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Miami Heat Release Josh Harrellson, Could Be Eyeing "Birdman"

Team will reportedly work out Chris "Birdman" Andersen in effort to bolster frontcourt

By David Hill
|  Tuesday, Jan 8, 2013  |  Updated 1:45 AM EDT
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Can "Birdman" (R) help solve the Heat's defensive woes?

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The Miami Heat have waived reserve center Josh Harrellson, and could already have their eye on a potential replacement. Still searching for a big man who can back up starter Chris Bosh and provide depth against teams with larger frontcourts, the Heat have apparently set their sights on former Nuggets center Chris "Birdman" Andersen.

Yahoo Sports reported Monday that Andersen came to Miami for a Tuesday workout with Heat officials. The 10-year veteran is a career backup, but he is known as an energetic defender who can contribute quality minutes off the bench. He has averaged 5.2 rebounds per game for his career (in just 17.8 minutes per game).

Miami's frontcourt needs are reflected in their defensive stats. Miami started out the season as one of the least efficient teams defensively in the NBA, but now are at the middle of the pack. Miami allows 105.6 points per 100 possessions, 15th-most in the league.

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Miami's rebounding rates leave much to be desired. The Heat grab 73.0 percent of all possible defensive rebounds (18th in the NBA) and 21.2 percent of all possible offensive rebounds (second to last in the NBA). Andersen's career rebounding rates are 22.3 percent on defense and 11.7 percent on offense, better than all the big men on the Heat's roster.

Andersen is one of the NBA's most colorful characters, with vibrant tattoos all over his arms and neck. He spent two years out of the NBA for violating the league's drug policy, but returned to the Nuggets after his suspension. Denver waived him in July to clear salary cap space, and he has not signed with a team yet this season.

Andersen is far from a sure thing, though. At 34, he would be one of the oldest members of the Heat's (already advanced) roster. And most players who start the season as a free agent remain unsigned for a reason.

By waiving Harrellson, the Heat have already made space for Andersen on the roster, should they choose to sign him. Harrellson came to the Heat last summer as a free agent, but has only appeared in five games with the Heat. He averaged 2.0 points and 1.4 rebounds in 5.6 minutes per game.

The team also waived guard Terrell Harris on Saturday, leaving the team's roster at 13. Miami will be able to sign two more players before reaching the NBA maximum of 15 players under contract. Harris could return on a 10-day contract later in the season.

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