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Beer Drinker!!!
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The adage only the strong can survive is not only tattooed over his grandmother's visage on William Avery's left arm,but also it has been his mantra since leaving Duke after a stunning loss to underdog Connecticut in the 1999 NCAA championship game.

Avery,the 14th pick in the 1999 draft,spent three nondescript seasons with the Timberwolves,as he patiently sat behind talented point guards Terrell Brandon and Chauncey Billups.
Despite a career-threatening knee injury to Brandon and Billups free-agent status,Minnesota severed ties with Avery.

Now the 6-foot-2 free agent is hoping to survive a Pat Riley summer camp and seize a roster spot on a team with question marks at the point.

Rod Strickland turns 36 next Thursday and is a free agent.Anthony Carter is off somewhere working on a suspect shot that has allowed defenses to leave him to double team more potent scorers such as Alonzo Mourning and Eddie Jones.

I never got a chance to prove myself and show what I can do in game situations,said Avery,22,who averaged 2.7 points and 1.4 assists in 8.5 minutes,and started just one game in three seasons.I would've been fine if I was in the right situation.But Minnesota was a playoff team where you dont get the opportunity to play like you do when you're a high draft pick and go to a team that's struggling.

Avey will get his chance next week in Orlando as he and Mike James share the bulk of the point-guard duties in games against other NBA teams prospects.

I'm hoping he's coming from a situation that wasn't good for him,said Heat coach Pat Riley.We like him and will give him a good shot.

Good shots have been eluding Avery as much as it has dodged Carter.Avery has averaged just 33 percent from the field and 25 percent on 3-pointers,compared to Carter's 38.8 and 12.2 percentages.

I can definitely fit in here,Avery said.I'll play hard and knock down open shots.That's what they need on this team right now.

If Avery isn't the answer,James will get a look.Perhaps the best option may be free-agent point guard Travis Best,who became expendable in Chicago after the Bulls drafted Duke's Jay Williams at No. 2.

In his eight seasons,Best's most starts came in the 1996-97 season,when he started 46 games for the Pacers.He has averaged 8.2 points and 3.9 assists,while shooting a respectable 44 percent.

Travis would love to play down there,said Forrest King,Best's agent.He really feels like he could help the Heat win and be a stabilizing factor.
 
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