Heat trade Quinn to Nets

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MIAMI (AP) — The Miami Heat traded point guard Chris Quinn to the New Jersey Nets on Tuesday, a move that could be a precursor to Rafer Alston’s return to South Florida.

Alston agreed to a buyout agreement with the Nets earlier Tuesday, and two people familiar with the situation told The Associated Press that the guard is hoping to sign with the Heat later this week. If Alston clears waivers Thursday at 6 p.m., he could sign with any team.

Quinn was sent in exchange for a second-round pick in 2012. Miami could get New Jersey’s second-round draft pick this year, provided it’s not between picks 31-50.

Quinn played in 168 games in parts of four seasons with the Heat, and didn’t play in any of Miami’s first 32 games this season. Quinn was making just more than $1 million and becomes a free agent at season’s end.

“Chris wants to play,” agent Mark Bartelstein said. “He’s worked hard and would welcome an opportunity to play anywhere.”

And that wasn’t happening in Miami.

The Heat did not have to trade Quinn to make a roster move. They had only 14 players under contract, one under the league minimum.

But trading him, especially for a pick, helps minimize the impact any moves could make to Miami’s losing battle to stay under the salary cap. Quinn was due about $640,000 for the remainder of this season.

Alston spent the 2003-04 season in Miami, averaging 10.2 points in 82 games during Dwyane Wade’s rookie season with the Heat. Alston signed a five-year, $31 million contract that offseason with Toronto, tearfully saying farewell to the Heat, where he has kept some ties ever since.

Quinn was considered to be the favorite to be Miami’s starter at point guard entering the 2008-09 season, but logged only 962 minutes and missed 16 games entirely. This year, he didn’t get a minute, with the point guard time going to Mario Chalmers, Carlos Arroyo and even on occasion to Dorell Wright.

Alston’s departure from New Jersey set off a series of dominoes, not all of which have fallen.

First, Alston still would have to clear waivers before he could sign with anyone. Then he and the Heat would have to agree on a contract, which might not be the smoothest process because of Miami’s reluctance to go much farther into the salary tax. And before anything with Alston and Miami can happen, a decision needs to be made on Arroyo’s Heat future.

Arroyo is playing on a non-guaranteed contract. To keep it from becoming guaranteed, the Heat would have to waive him by 6 p.m. Wednesday. Arroyo took the starting job on Dec. 15, the day Chalmers was late to a shootaround practice.

Miami is 6-4 with Arroyo as the starter, and he’s had a gaudy 38-to-5 assist-to-turnover ratio in those 10 games.