[size="4"]Raja Bell: The Heat Are On Top Of My List, For Sure[/size]
By Ira Winderman
South Florida Sun Sentinel
The buyout that was expected to come in July still hasn't arrived for Raja Bell. Because of that, the veteran guard recognizes that even a possible move into free agency might not mean the opportunity to suit up for his hometown Miami Heat.
The defensive-minded swingman with 3-point range said Friday that he remains hopeful of receiving his release from the Utah Jazz in advance of next week's start of training camp and that few teams hold the allure of the Heat.
"They would be on the top of my list, for sure," he said on 640 Sports' Andy Slater Show. "Again, hometown crowd, my kids are in elementary school here. It'd be great for me to get a chance to play here in Miami where I grew up and I know a lot of people, and be a part of this history that they're going to make for the city. But that's not always just up to me."
Facing a diminished role amid an uneasy relationship with the Jazz staff, the native of St. Croix, who attended both Killian High and Florida International University, appeared poised for a buyout early in the free-agency period. He is due $3.48 million this coming season from Utah on the final year of his contract.
"Right now, I'm taking a physical on Monday out in Salt Lake," said Bell, who turned 36 Wednesday. "We had a buyout in place early in the summer. The Jazz never officially presented it to me. But they never really officially told me I was coming back there, either. So I'm really in a limbo situation right now."
Had Bell completed his release in July or even August, he might have been better positioned to approach the Heat. Instead, 18 of the 20 spots for Heat training camp already have been filled, with those sessions opening Sept. 29 at AmericanAirlines Arena.
Bell appreciates the Heat option might be lost, even with a Jazz buyout.
"The Heat, they've done a great job over the last few years," he said. "They've really stacked their roster with some quality players, so I don't know that there's a spot there for me. Obviously, it's my hometown team, so given the opportunity, I'd like to be a part of what they're doing.
"But I understand that they've made strides to improve and really feel like they've got a good nucleus. So if it's not here, then hopefully I'll get a chance to go somewhere else and finish my career."
The two-time member of NBA All-Defensive teams said he appreciates any role would be limited.
"At my age and what I've got in my tank, I feel like a limited role is best," he said. "I don't really like playing 35 minutes a night anymore."
Shane Battier currently stands as the Heat's lone perimeter defensive specialist, although LeBron James often takes the critical perimeter defensive assignment in crucial situations.
"As much as I control what I do, I don't," Bell said. "The Jazz hold my rights, they are the owners of the contract. And so if they tell me I'm coming back to camp, then I have to go back to camp.
"On Monday, when I go out and have my physical, I'm really hoping they'll say to me, 'Look, we either have a trade worked out for you or we're going to waive you,' or something that will allow me to move on."
email@example.com. Follow him at twitter.com/iraheatbeat
http://www.sun-sentinel.com/sports/miam ... ?track=rss