It just appeared that way Tuesday afternoon when doors opened to the Heat's practice at AmericanAirlines Arena.
No sooner than Duke caps its run to an NCAA title on Monday night than does Shavlik Randolph show up out of nowhere at the Heat's practice Tuesday morning.
Randolph once was the Dukiest of Duke players. In a good way, of course. He was supposed to be next in the Blue Devils pipeline of power players that started back with Gminski, continued through Ferry and Laettner and delivered Boozer and Brand before things dried up. Oh, almost forgot. Cherokee Parks was somewhere in there, too.
Randolph's Duke career was sidetracked by injuries. But he's trying to scratch out an NBA full-time job with heart, hustle and a relentless work ethic. Those things are held in high value by the Heat. It's what kept Udonis here so long. It's what got Joel Anthony another contract. So, after Randolph was released earlier this season, he's back to finish the season with the Heat.
For him, the timing couldn't have been better. There may be some spot-duty minutes in the post should the Heat have to limit Jermaine O'Neal's minutes upon his return from a right knee injury. The Randolph signing may also have been a sign that coach Erik Spoelstra intends to rest Haslem at the first opportunity at some point over the final five games of the regular season in preparation for the playoffs.
"Basically, coach told me my role didn't change from when I was on the team earlier," Randolph said Tuesday. "Be an energy guy, defensive rebounder and opportunistic scorer. I'm not expecting to come in here and play big minutes or anything. If they call me, I'm going to be ready. That's for sure."
It was almost as if the Heat playfully tried to sneak this signing in on some of us in the media. Randolph was on the court in full gear working out before the team officially issued the release that he was signed. But it didn't necessarily require an intrepid reporter to take notice.
On Monday, there were 14 brothers on the roster and cool cat Carlos Arroyo. On Tuesday, there were 13 brothers, smooth dude Arroyo and Shav, who is 6-10 and all elbows, arms and solid fundamentals. I've found Randolph to be an all-around good guy with a great attitude and strong conviction in his faith.
He's back to finish what he started with the Heat. At best, he could give Miami tough minutes down the stretch, draw a few charges and take a few fouls so the veterans can get some rest and recovery before the playoffs. At worst, Shav could be a practice sparring partner for Jamaal Magloire.
In either case, Randolph was beaming at the opportunity Tuesday. Or maybe that was just the afterglow of his alma mater winning a title. Shav walked in the door with a bit of bragging rights.
"I've heard a few of the Duke jokes," Randolph said. "You know, Duke wins a championship and the first thing they do is bring in a Duke guy. It's great. As a Duke alum, it's almost like part of us won it, too."