Keyon Dooling Eyes Orlando or Miami
Dooling, who was given a $500,000 buyout Monday from the New Jersey Nets, becomes an unrestricted free agent Thursday, and he made his preference clear where he hopes to be next season.
Dooling, 30, is from Ft. Lauderdale. He played for Van Gundy in Miami during the 2004-05 season. And he played for Van Gundy in Orlando during the 2007-08 season.
Both times he left as a free agent to sign a more lucrative deal elsewhere, but Van Gundy liked and utilized Dooling's ability to swing from shooting guard to point guard in both places.
"I think there's a very realistic chance I could be back again with one of the Florida teams,'' Dooling told FanHouse by phone Tuesday. "Stan (Van Gundy) taught me more about basketball than anyone else in my career. It would be a smooth and easy transition to go back and play for him (in Orlando) again.''
Dooling has played 10 NBA seasons, including the last two in New Jersey, where he was part of the Nets' disastrous, 12-win season. He averaged 18.3 minutes, 6.9 points and 2.5 assists.
The Magic are looking to add at least one other low-priced guard in free agency. They are not expected to offer a contract to point guard Anthony Johnson, who played in Orlando the last two seasons. They may not bring back point guard Jason Williams. And there is a chance they could lose shooting guard J.J. Redick, a restricted free agent.
Dooling would be an ideal third point guard because of his ability to also play shooting guard, and his willingness to accept a secondary role for a contending team.
The Miami Heat also are expected to show some interest in Dooling next month, particularly if they are successful in their plan to add two high-priced free agents for Dwyane Wade. They would need to fill their roster with low-budget veteran free agents like Dooling.
The same thing could happen in Chicago, New York or New Jersey, where teams hope to add multiple stars, then complete their rosters with various low-priced veterans.
"This is a huge free-agent year, but not just for the superstars you hear everything about,'' Dooling said. "There's a real opportunity for the role players like me, guys who know the game and understand what's expected."
Dooling never has averaged more than 9.7 points – his scoring average in New Jersey two seasons ago – but he has become a good perimeter defender and reliable backup who is liked by coaches.
"Last season was tough, but I proved I could handle adversity and keep working through it," he said. "It's logical that I'd want to play alongside some great players, which would be the case in Orlando or Miami. And every role guy dreams of playing with a superstar, because there's always chances to sneak up on people and have big games."