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Williams Close to Going With Heat; Reports of $28-Million Deal Denied

From Associated Press

John (Hot Rod) Williams was close to signing an offer sheet today with the Miami Heat, but his agent and team officials denied a report of a seven-year, $28-million deal.

“At this point there’s nothing official,” Heat spokesman Mark Pray said. But one source said the team and Williams’ agent, Mark Bartlestein, were not far apart in negotiations.

The 6-foot-11 Williams, who has been with the Cleveland Cavaliers since he entered the NBA four years ago, is one of the most attractive restricted free agents available. If he signs an offer sheet, the Cavs would have 15 days to match the offer.

A report in The National said the Heat would offer Williams $28 million for seven years, making him the NBA’s second-highest paid player behind Houston’s Akeem Olajuwon.

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“What’s been discussed isn’t that much,” Heat managing partner Lewis Schaffel said. “What they are asking for isn’t that much.”

Bartlestein said there was no $28-million offer.

“I don’t know where they got those figures from,” he said.

The 29-year-old Williams averaged 16.8 points and 8.1 rebounds for Cleveland last season. He rejected the Cavs’ five-year, $13-million extension offer two months ago.

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Schaffel said he’s had several discussions with Bartlestein.


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