ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -In his player biography, Milwaukee Bucks guard Mo Williams says Miami is his favorite NBA city. Heat coach Pat Riley hopes to find out in the coming days if that's the case.
Riley spoke Monday of his weekend recruiting session with the free agent point guard, clearly hopeful that Williams - who averaged career-bests of 17.3 points and 6.1 assists with the Bucks this past season - will accept a deal to play alongside 2006 NBA finals MVP Dwyane Wade in the Heat's backcourt for the coming years.
``We had a great conversation,'' Riley said. ``We know what the score is. We're very interested.''
The problem, of course, is money. Miami can only offer Williams the mid-level exception, which would mean the most he could earn in a five-year deal with the Heat is about $35 million. The Bucks, however, could offer substantially more, and are already believed to have made an offer in the $40 million range.
``We know what the deal is,'' Riley said while taking a break from watching the Heat's summer league team play in Orlando. ``We know where we are and what we can do and what they can do. It's really up to him. I think he would be great with our team. He's 24 and I think he and Dwyane would be a great backcourt for a long time, but he's got to make a major decision.''
Free agents can begin signing contracts Wednesday.
Williams' agent, Mark Bartelstein, said Monday that no decisions had been made about where Williams will play next season. Bartelstein also represents, among others, Heat forward James Posey, another free agent who is weighing a return to Miami along with other offers.
``I'm talking with Mark every day, seeing how things work out,'' Riley said. ``But we know what our priority is and we've got to try to take care of that first.''
That priority is point guard, largely because the Heat have concerns about the health of incumbent starter Jason Williams - who has battled several injuries during his two seasons in Miami and is rehabbing this summer at his home in Central Florida, not far from where summer league is being held. Riley said he hopes to meet with Jason Williams before returning to Miami.
``It doesn't mean that Jason Williams is out-of-sight, out-of-mind,'' Riley said. ``He's working very hard to get healthy. ... But we have to cover ourselves.''
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