Magloire's last shot

FRANK ZICARELLI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:11 AM ET

With his game going south, it seems fitting that Jamaal Magloire should find himself in South Beach.

Dubbed the Big Cat, the Toronto native has been one of the NBA's biggest busts the past few seasons, incapable of playing to the level that made Magloire an all-star in 2004.

Desperate for a big body who can rebound and defend the post, the Miami Heat took a flyer on Magloire by signing him to the veteran's minimum of $1.3-million US, an amount the NBA partially funds.

It's a low-risk move by the Heat, but for Magloire it represents a much-needed wakeup call, as if he needed further prodding.

Magloire is only 30 years old, but there are so many questions and concerns hovering over him that it's possible this season could be his last in the NBA, even in a basketball climate where centres are so scarce.

When he's motivated, when he's in shape and when he buys into a team concept, Magloire has acquitted himself well.

The problem, at least during the past few years, is that Magloire hasn't been motivated, he hasn't been in shape and he hasn't exactly been a team-first player.

Typically, Magloire often cites injuries and inconsistent minutes as reasons for his diminishing numbers and skill set.

Much like his rationale for not playing on Canada's national team, they are merely excuses.

With NBA training camps set to open, Magloire has run out of alibis and he may soon be running out of opportunities.

You'd be hard-pressed to name a former all-star who is forced to settle for the veteran's minimum, which is the equivalent of being fed humble pie.

Perhaps humility will awaken Magloire from the doldrums that have taken him from Milwaukee to Portland, to New Jersey and Dallas and now Miami.

It got so bad last year that the Nets refused to take Magloire to Toronto, fearing he'd be subject to ridicule in the wake of his limited role and playing time on a team that had no depth in the frontcourt.

When he played for Paul Silas' calming presence and when Magloire had veteran help such as a P.J. Brown showing him the ropes, the basketball world got see the best Magloire had to offer.

In the intervening years, observers and scouts have seen the worst.

Magloire has played for four teams in three years and is coming off his worst season after averaging 1.8 points and 2.9 rebounds in 31 games with the Nets and Mavs, who basically kept the 6-foot-11 Big Cat tied to the end of their bench.

"We feel this is definitely the right place for him to re-energize his career,'' Heat president Pat Riley said of Magloire.

"He is an excellent rebounder with a big body. On the defensive end, he will plug up the paint and on the offensive end, he can score.''

In a nutshell, that was Magloire's game.

What, if any, game he has left will be determined in camp. The Heat has no legitimate big body in the frontcourt, but neither did the Nets.

The Mavs needed backup help, but got nothing out of Magloire.

"I definitely see potential to help this team,'' Magloire said of the Heat. "To what capacity remains to be seen.

"Whatever role, whatever capacity that's needed, I'm looking forward to that because I want to get back to the level I was playing at four years ago.''

The untold truth

In an off-season of player moves and coaching changes, two of the most curious stories involve ex-Raptors guard Lindsey Hunter and Monta Ellis.

Hunter may or may not be back with the Pistons, who are holding a roster spot.

Hunter is in the throes of a mortgage deal gone awry.

One enforcement agency considers Hunter the victim, while another is reportedly investigating him as the culprit.

Days after signing a mega contract with Golden State, Ellis tore ligaments in his ankle.

Ellis first said he got hurt in a pick-up game, but later it was reported that he lied.


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