Throughout his NBA career, James Jones has always thought of the Miami Heat as his team.
And now, it finally is.
The South Florida native signed a five-year contract on Wednesday with the Heat, one that'll pay him $4 million next season and could be worth more than $23 million over the life of the deal. He had other offers, including one from the Detroit Pistons that tempted him, but ultimately Jones wanted to come home.
"For me, it's like coming full circle," Jones said. "I'm from the city. I spend all my time here and when the Heat hurt, even when I'm on another team, I still feel that pain. ... So for me, the interest from my hometown team superseded and outweighed all the other positives and pluses of the different cities, especially Detroit, that were looking for my services."
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel first reported terms of the agreement, including a clause that makes the final three years conditional _ which ensures that Miami can still have maximum spending capability during the free agent summer of 2010, the year that Dwyane Wade can opt out of his Heat contract.
Jones, who played at the University of Miami and has been with Indiana, Phoenix and Portland in his NBA career, is a 3-point specialist, and that's an area where the Heat clearly need an upgrade.
Heat president Pat Riley called Jones "a perfect fit."
"We feel he's the best pure shooter in the NBA, a great locker-room guy," Riley said in Orlando, where the Heat have a summer league entry. "He was affordable and he wanted to be here. I think his outside shooting, obviously, and the fact that he's a veteran is something that fits well with us."
Jones shot a career-best 44 percent from 3-point range last season. The Heat, as a team, shot 36 percent from beyond the arc a year ago.
"Everyone knows I can shoot," said Jones, who got his deal done on the first day of this year's free-agent signing period. "I love to shoot. That's what I do. I try not to step on any toes, not try to do too much, but just do what I do well, which is make shots."
It's unclear where exactly Jones will fit into the Heat rotation next season.
Miami drafted Michael Beasley, who'll likely play some minutes at both forward positions. The Heat have a contract offer pending with restricted free agent forward Dorell Wright (who has interest from other teams), and still have small forward Shawn Marion and power forward Udonis Haslem _ both of whom have been mentioned as possible trade candidates. Plus, the Heat will likely still seek some help at both center and point guard (rookie Mario Chalmers signed a three-year contract Wednesday and Chris Quinn is still pondering an offer to return).
There's clearly more moves to come, and Wright is eager to see where he fits into Miami's vision for the coming year.
"We had a bad year last year, so Coach is going to make moves for our team to be better," Wright said. "James Jones is a great shooter and he will definitely help us out a lot next year. I'm happy he's here. He's a good guy."
For his part, Jones doesn't care what role he plays, as long as he gets the chance to help the Heat erase the sting of last year's dreadful, injury-plagued 15-67 season.
"If that means coming off the bench, if that means starting, if that means taking 10 shots, if that means taking one shot, for me, it's about being efficient and winning games," Jones said. "Coming here, I don't have any expectations about what position or which role I'll play. All I'm looking for is the opportunity to compete."