The biggest unresolved key issue of the Heat’s offseason reached a favorable conclusion Tuesday, when Chris Andersen agreed to return to the Heat on a one-year deal, according to a person directly involved.
The Heat prefered Andersen re-sign for $1.7 million -– the minimum plus a 20 percent raise, but terms were still being finalized Tuesday. He had at least one offer that was more financially lucrative, according to a source. But Andersen decided to return largely because he enjoyed his Heat experience and wants to try to win another championship.
He also will receive nearly $4.4 million next season from Denver, which used the amnesty provision on him last summer to purge his contract from its salary cap.
Andersen’s decision leaves the Heat with 13 players under guaranteed contracts. Jarvis Varnado has a non-guaranteed deal. A young prospect and a veteran might fill the final two spots. Another roster spot could be created if the Heat uses the amnesty clause on Mike Miller or Joel Anthony.
After signing with the Heat in January, Andersen delivered a needed dose of rebounding and energy off the Heat’s bench, while also displaying a knack for finishing in the basket area, often the result of lobs from Heat teammates.
“We don’t win the championship without picking up Bird midway through the season,” Dwyane Wade said. “Bird was a key to our success.”
The Heat went 39-3 in regular season games in which Andersen played --- the highest winning percentage (92.9) in NBA history.
Andersen averaged 4.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.0 blocks and 14.9 minutes per game during the regular season, while shooting 57.7 percent.
During the playoffs, he was especially impactful against Indiana and finished the postseason averaging 6.4 points, 3.8 points, 1.1 blocks and 15.2 minutes per game, while shooting a remarkable 80.7 percent from the field. At one point, he hit 18 shots in a row.
Andersen appreciates how Heat fans embraced him.
“It feels like as soon as I got into the city, I had nothing but big support for me,” he said. “Everywhere I was going, they were rooting me on. To be able to come in here midseason and collaborate with these guys and play for such an extraordinary, talented team and play with some of the best all-time players, it’s amazing.”