After watching the Miami Heat sputter offensively in the preseason, Pat Riley realized his team was in desperate need of perimeter help.
He's counting on newly acquired Ricky Davis to provide an immediate boost.
Davis will slide into the injured Dwyane Wade's spot at starting shooting guard when the Heat open the regular season next week, Riley said Thursday, one day after the Heat pulled off a five-player trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Miami sent Antoine Walker, Michael Doleac and Wayne Simien to the Timberwolves, along with a conditional first-round draft pick, for Davis and Mark Blount.
``The securing of a perimeter player who could score, who could shoot, who had experience as a starter transcended all other needs. And that's why we did it,'' Riley said. ``The preseason showed we didn't have what we needed presently at that position, even though I think we have players who can help us.''
Davis and Blount were in Miami on Thursday and going through the process of being cleared to practice with the team. They're expected on the floor with their new teammates Friday, giving both plenty of time to be ready for the Nov. 1 season-opener against Detroit.
Neither Davis nor Blount was available for comment, but their new teammates seemed to approve of the deal.
``We had to get better as a team, regardless of if we made any personnel changes or not,'' Heat center Alonzo Mourning said. ``And all these years I've been coached by Patrick Riley, I know for a fact that regardless of what decision he'd make it's for the better of this organization.''
Blount will be a backup center behind Shaquille O'Neal and Mourning, and will probably spell power forward Udonis Haslem at times, as well.
Davis averaged 17 points and 4.8 assists last season for Minnesota, plus hit 40 percent of his shots from 3-point range. And that - not the ongoing clash between Riley and Walker over conditioning - is why the Heat were willing to make the move, Riley said.
Riley even pointed out that Walker was Miami's second-leading scorer during the 2006 NBA finals, when the Heat beat the Dallas Mavericks for their first championship.
``I know the dilemma that was out there between Antoine and myself. It was not personal,'' Riley said. ``The need for a perimeter player was a hell of a lot more important than anything that was going on. If Ricky Davis wasn't available, Antoine Walker would still be here.''
But Davis was available, as Minnesota - which traded Kevin Garnett to Boston this summer - begins anew with a completely made-over roster filled mostly by players who've been with the Timberwolves for less than a year.
Wade is expected to miss at least the first few weeks of the season as he continues to recover from offseason knee and shoulder surgeries. Once he returns, he and Davis will often be on the floor together. Until then, Davis will be asked to do a Wade impersonation.
``We're going to run all the things we ran for Dwyane for him, so we don't have to change our offense that much,'' Riley said.
Acquiring Davis likely means the Heat will have fewer minutes available for forward Dorell Wright, who struggled offensively in his preseason bid to become a full-time member of Miami's rotation for the first time.
Wright was home when he heard about the trade. His reaction? ``Wow.''
``It's a business and Pat does whatever he can do to make the team stronger and get back to where we were two years ago,'' Wright said. ``I'll miss those guys ... but it's a business and we're going to welcome these two guys.''

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