Sun-Sentinel By Ira Winderman Staff Writer Posted November
DALLAS · Pat Riley's first personnel addition as
full-time president of the Heat comes from firsthand experience.
Four months after watching Kirk Penney go for 16 points in 17 minutes for the
Minnesota Timberwolves' summer-league team against
the Heat, Riley added the former Wisconsin
shooting guard to his injury-ravaged roster.
Penney was in uniform for
Monday's game against the Dallas Mavericks at AmericanAirlinesCenter. By tonight in San Antonio, he could be in his own uniform. Monday, his
jersey read, "P-E-N-N-Y."
"I'd play in rags," he quipped, glad for an NBA breakthrough after
being cut by the Timberwolves Oct. 23.
Riley's firsthand experience with Penney predates the Orlando summer league. Riley, then still coach of the
Heat, also scouted the 6-foot-5 guard at the Chicago pre-draft camp in June before opting to use the
team's second-round pick on forward Jerome Beasley.
Considering his success both with the Badgers and New Zealand's national team, it was somewhat surprising Penney
went undrafted. He instead attended the Timberwolves' training camp, averaging 6.1 points, 2.9
rebounds and 1.1 assists, while shooting .459 from the field and .455 on
3-pointers in seven preseason appearances.
"He was a guy that even going into the draft we liked," coach Stan Van Gundy said. "And he's played in a lot of
big games. We don't think he'll shrink when he gets out there on the big
Penney becomes the second New Zealand native to play in the NBA. The first was center
Sean Marks, who left the Heat as a free agent in the offseason
after playing two seasons under Riley.
"I spoke to Sean, and he said it was a great organization," Penney
said. "Back home, they're making fun of all the Kiwis going to Miami."
An All-America honorable mention as a senior last season, Penney helped lead Wisconsin to a school-record 24 victories, including its
first outright Big Ten title and a trip to the NCAA Tournament's Sweet Sixteen.
He represented New Zealand in the 2000 Olympics, 2001 Goodwill Games and the
2002 World Championships, where he teamed with Marks for a fourth-place finish.
Quipped Van Gundy, "It's actually the New Zealand pipeline. If you're from New Zealand, we want to bring you to Miami."
Awaiting his future in Madison, Wis., before being beckoned at Sunday to join the Heat, Penney said he has an
immediate concern when the team returns home after tonight's game in San Antonio.
"I actually don't have any summer clothes," he said.
To make room for Penney, forward Samaki Walker was shifted to the injured list.
Walker, who had been deemed fit by the team to return, had complained of a
variety of ailments, including back and shoulder pain.
In announcing Monday's transaction, the Heat said Walker had been deactivated "due to complaints about
Walker was injured in a July car crash, an incident that
occurred before he was signed to a one-year, $1.7 million contract.