So even before the call came from Pat Riley on Dec. 23, House already was getting his house in order, in anticipation of his second departure from South Florida.
No hard feelings. No remorse about a second go-round that featured minimal playing time and ended two victories shy of adding another NBA title to the one he won with the Boston Celtics in 2008.
This is what happens when injuries get in the way, when a defined role no longer is defined, when a new kid in town like Terrel Harris comes along. So Eddie’s back home in Scottsdale, Ariz., recovering from that Nov. 1 procedure on his left knee, waiting for the next chapter.
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“It’s funny, I talked to Dwyane like three days before they actually made the announcement,” House said this past week by phone of a conversation with Dwyane Wade. “I was telling him, ‘There’s really nowhere for me to play.’ I want to play my last couple of years. It was not like I can’t.”
So, no, the Christmas Eve release did not come as a shock.
“If you were looking at the situation, the numbers situation and talking to my agent, there really wasn’t anywhere I was going to play there.”
As eventually became the case during his initial three-year tour with the Heat, after he was selected with the No. 37 pick in the 2000 NBA Draft out of Arizona State, House felt he became pigeonholed into a role of shooting specialist, even after he served as the Celtics’ backup point guard during that 2008 title run.
“People put a label on you and you work hard to try to shake it off. Then, when I came back, I was stuck into where I wasn’t even able to get a chance to play the one again. It was one of those situations.”
“Like I told Pat, there’s no hard feelings, at all. They drafted me in 2000. I’m very thankful for that, for the professionalism they taught me, how to be a professional, a first-class professional, just to do your job. That’s one thing I did tell Pat, I was very appreciative of that. I thanked him for that.
“I have no hard feelings toward him, toward the organization, at all. They took a chance on me and started my career. There’s no way I could have any hard feelings.”
So what’s next? First it’s getting past the knee issues, with clearance expected to come next week. Only then, House said, will he have his agent approach teams about possible workouts, to show at 33 that there is something left.
“I’m 12 in,” he said of his NBA tenure. “I was looking to play two more after this year, about 14 and hang it on up.
“I’m just trying to get my leg healthy, that’s all I’m doing right now. I’m not 100 percent, so I’m just trying to get to that point, that’s all.”
He said the Nov. 1 timing of the procedure was not something he could have expedited in anticipation of the Nov. 25 conclusion of the lockout.
“It wasn’t something like, ‘I don’t want to get done,’ ” he said. “As I was working out, it just started bothering me. I actually got a shot first, and that took a week. Then I had to wait two weeks to test it to see if the shot worked. Then I got the MRI and saw I had the stress reaction.”
To House’s benefit, 3-point shooting never goes out of style, particularly considering the last vision of House were his three rapid-fire 3-pointers in Game 6 of the 2011 NBA Finals.
“We’ve talked to a couple of teams,” he said, with a Celtics reunion seemingly an option. “The main thing is I’ve got to be healthy.”
As for the two-year deal he signed in the 2010 offseason that turned into a mere one-year reunion, any regrets?
“It was a great bunch of guys,” he said. “The thing that was most heartbreaking is that we weren’t able to get it done.”
IN THE LANE
TECHNICALLY SPEAKING: The Heat went into the weekend without a single technical foul. This season, that is a particularly good thing. Due to the lockout-compressed schedule, the NBA also has compressed its fine policy on technicals. Last season, a player’s first five technical fouls cost $ 2,000 apiece; this season, the first four are set at that amount. Last season, the 6th through 10th technical fouls were $ 3,000 each; this season the $ 3,000 charge applies for Nos. 5 through 8. Last season, Nos. 11-15 cost $ 4,000 each; this season the $ 4,000 charge is for Nos. 9-12. And last season, each technical foul No. 16 or above cost $ 5,000; this season it’s $ 5,000 for each technical No. 13 and above. Beyond that, suspensions now start with the 13th technical, after starting with the 16th last season, when the schedule was 82 games instead of the current 66.
OPPOSING VIEW: Atlanta Hawks coach Larry Drew, in discussing the value of zone defense, used the alignment as a framework to describe the differences between last season’s Eastern Conference finalists, the Heat and Chicago Bulls. “You are talking about two totally different beasts,” he said during his pregame comments Tuesday in Chicago, in comparing the approach of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and the Bulls’ Derrick Rose. “With having to defend Wade and LeBron, I think it’s totally different from having to defend Rose. With Rose, I think he may be more explosive. Both LeBron and D-Wade are very explosive, but Rose’s explosion is a little bit different. His ability to get into the paint is more of a havoc than LeBron and Wade. LeBron and Wade are more open court. Rose can get into the basket open court and half court.” Drew didn’t get either Wade or LeBron on Thursday night, just a loss.
BIG STINK: Among the most overstated perks of a championship is the White House visit. It tends to be more for the organization than the players, who generally would prefer a day off. This season it also got tricky for the NBA, with the Dallas Mavericks not scheduled, due to the lockout, to play in Washington. The visit will come Monday, between Saturday’s home game against the New Orleans Hornets and a Tuesday road game against the Detroit Pistons. And, no, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was not happy. “How can you be that stupid?” he said. “They managed to get Miami in Dallas.” Of course, who exactly was clamoring for Mavericks-Wizards, as opposed to Heat-Mavericks on opening day?
LITTLE STINK: In the wake of the acrimony over the departure of James, Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, in an extended interview with Cleveland media, said he does not live in similar fear of one day eventually losing No. 1 overall 2011 NBA Draft pick Kyrie Irving. “People forget we were not here from the beginning of the previous era; we came in year three,” Gilbert said. “There were two years without us when we weren’t able to establish a foundation and a relationship at the beginning. It’s a whole different thing now and I really think it will be very different when this core of guys comes up for a contract.”
2. Players, according to Elias Sports Bureau, who reached 14,000 points and 3,500 assists faster than Dwyane Wade, who did it this past week in his 552nd regular-season game, those being Oscar Robertson (416) and teammate LeBron James (516).
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