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Heat optimistic with Chapman, picks

THE BALTIMORE SUN

MIAMI -- Delighted as he is with first-round pick Kurt Thomas, Miami Heat executive vice president of basketball operations Dave Wohl is also beaming about the three other players acquired Wednesday night.

In a trade with Washington, the Heat obtained veteran shooting guard Rex Chapman and rights to Texas point guard Terrence Rencher, whom the Bullets had selected with the 32nd pick. Miami gave up two of its past second-round picks who never played for the Heat, Ed Stokes and Jeff Webster, selected in '93 and '94, respectively.

The final Heat newcomer is 6-foot-7 Texas-El Paso forward George Banks, selected with the 46th pick of the second round. Though Wohl likes Banks' potential, calling him a "Keith Askins type" for his athleticism, defense and hustle, Banks is a long shot to make the team and, according to Wohl, could wind up in Europe for seasoning.

But Wohl looks for Chapman and Rencher to contribute right away.

Wohl believes Chapman adds a significant outside threat to complement the low-post games of Thomas and veterans Kevin Willis and Billy Owens. Recalling injuries and fatigue suffered last year by incumbent point guards Khalid Reeves and Bimbo Coles, Wohl said Rencher can provide quality depth at the position, and has the potential to do considerably more.

"And when you consider the two guys we gave up had no future with us, we feel this trade was a big coup," Wohl said.

The Heat has six guards: the two new ones, Reeves, Coles, Owens and Yugoslavian newcomer Predrag Danilovic. An overload? The prelude to another trade? Wohl says no to both.

If Owens moves to the frontcourt, playing both forward positions, it leaves five guards, one more than the Heat played with last season.

"We've tilted by one toward a smaller lineup, but enormously increased our athleticism, speed, quickness and shooting ability," Wohl said.

The odd man out? It could be reserve forward Brad Lohaus.

Chapman, a seven-year veteran, comes with a history as a streak shooter with three-point range who can't stay healthy. Out of a maximum 574 games he could have played, he has appeared in only 386, and just 45 last year.

"I think NBA people know that when I'm healthy, I can get the job done," Chapman said. "No one has been more frustrated than me."

Chapman was the expansion Charlotte Hornets' first draft pick in 1988, taken one spot ahead of the Heat's first pick, Rony Seikaly.

"Strange, eight years ago I was probably one pick away from being a member of the Heat," Chapman said. "I'm healthy now, and I think it will be a good situation for me."

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