Posted January 20, 2013

Heat sign Chris ‘Birdman’ Andersen to 10-day contract

Ben Golliver, Chris Andersen, Miami Heat
Chris "Birdman" Andersen signed with the Heat on Sunday. (Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images)

Chris “Birdman” Andersen signed with the Heat on Sunday. (Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images)

By Ben Golliver

The Heat announced the signing of Chris “Birdman” Andersen to a 10-day contract on Sunday.

Andersen went through Sunday’s practice and is expected to be available for the Heat’s next game, at home against the Raptors on Wednesday. A player is able to sign up to two 10-day contracts before a team must decide whether to sign him for the rest of the season.

The Associated Press reports that the eccentric Andersen, known for his numerous tattoos and mohawk hairstyle, is excited for his first basketball action since the Nuggets released him using the amnesty clause in July 2012, swallowing $9.3 million.

“This opportunity and being with the defending champs, it’s a dream come true,” Andersen said. “They’re taking a chance with me and I’m here to give them everything I’ve got, defensively, diving on the floor, blocking shots, you know, the usual that a Birdman does and what Birdman brings.”

“Typically, you’re not able to get a player of his caliber at this time of year,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “But three years ago he was the best in the game coming off the bench at his position, as a shotblocker and a rebounder. We’ve always liked him. We had him in our camp a long time ago, when he was just coming up in this league, pre-tattoo, and we liked him back then. Ever since then we’ve searched for ways to get him back.”

Andersen, 34, went unsigned after becoming an unrestricted free agent when he cleared the amnesty bidding process last summer. That fact wasn’t particularly shocking, considering his off-court record. In May, Andersen was excused from all team-related activities by the Nuggets following a police investigation of alleged Internet crimes. Andersen, through a lawyer, claimed that the investigation, which included a search of his house, resulted from an extortion attempt, and he was not arrested or charged with any crime. Andersen was also banned from the NBA from Jan. 2006 to Mar. 2008 for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

A veteran locker room with title aspirations and no tolerance for bull would seem to be a fairly good environment for a second (Third? Fourth?) chance for Andersen, who should still be capable of providing shot-blocking and rebounding as long as he’s in reasonable shape. The Heat clearly have a need in those areas, and have juggled their last roster spots recently in an effort to shore up their interior. Miami currently ranks No. 11 in defensive efficiency and No. 26 in rebound rate after ranking No. 4 and No. 6, respectively, in those categories last season.  A career off-the-bench role player, Andersen averaged 5.3 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 15.2 minutes per game last season.

“I’m here to help assist in any kind of rebounding or defense that I can provide to an already outstanding team who are defending champions,” Andersen said. “And I’m just ecstatic to be here and I’m ready to get back to blockin’ and rollin’.”

The Heat also signed forward Jarvis Varnado to his second 10-day contract on Sunday. Earlier this month, Miami released Josh Harrellson to create the roster spot they used to sign Andersen. The second-year center averaged 1.7 points and 1.2 rebounds in just six appearances for the Heat this season.

The 10-day contract is the shortest leash possible in the NBA, making the Heat’s risk exposure here is minimal. It’s possible Andersen could play in nine or 10 games for the Heat, assuming he receives a second 10-day contract, before management would need to decide whether to keep him on for the rest of the season.

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