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The Miami Heat added depth to its frontcourt Monday, signing free agent center Josh Harrellson. The 6-foot-10-inch and 275-pound big man will compete for a spot on the bench to back up Chris Bosh when Heat training camp opens later this month.
Harrellson appeared in 37 games for the New York Knicks in 2011-12, his first NBA season. He averaged 4.4 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 0.5 blocks per game in limited action (starting four games for the Knicks and averaging 14.6 minutes per game).
Harrellson was selected by the New Orleans in the second round of the 2011 NBA Draft and traded to New York immediately thereafter. The Knicks sent him to Houston as part of the Marcus Camby trade this summer, but the Rockets released him after the trade.
Harrellson played three years at the University of Kentucky after transferring from Southwest Illinois College. He appeared in 94 games at Kentucky (with 40 starts), averaging 4.7 points and 4.7 rebounds a game.
The Heat considered signing a number of potential backup centers this summer, including Darko Milicic, Chris Anderson, Mehmet Okur, and Eddy Curry.
What is most intriguing about Harrellson is his 34 percent 3-point shooting rate. However, that percentage came on just 59 attempts, not a huge sample to go by. Nonetheless, his signing fits the pattern the Heat have set this summer, filling the roster with capable 3-point shooters who can capitalize on open looks created when Bosh, LeBron James, and Dwyane Wade get the ball into the painted area.
While Bosh and Joel Anthony are assured roster spots this season, Harrellson will compete with returning center Dexter Pittman and Mickell Gladness (who spent part of last season with the Heat) for a roster spot in training camp.
Pittman appears to be the favorite heading into camp, but that might not mean much considering how little he has played with the Heat (35 appearances with 8.6 minutes per game in 2011-2012). The Heat did not release financial terms of Harrellson's deal, but it is likely a non-guaranteed contract, meaning the team is free to release him at any time.