The trade followed a difficult negotiating period that ended Wednesday when Hornets owner George Shinn invited Mourning to his office and sweetened the team's offer.
Charlotte had offered the 25-year-old Mourning a seven-year deal worth $70 million, but Mourning said he wanted $13 million per year. On Wednesday, Shinn upped his offer to a seven-year deal worth an average of $11.2 million per season.
He rejected it. "It just broke my heart," Shinn said.
At that point, Shinn decided to give up hope on what had been often bitter contract talks and go ahead and trade Mourning.
David Falk, Mourning's agent, said the 6-foot-10 center has no agreement with the Heat - but he expects that they will be able to reach one.
"Absolutely no - he has no agreement, no understanding at this time," Falk said last night at the Spectrum, where he was attending the 76ers- Washington game.
"But he has great respect for (Heat coach) Pat Riley, and established a trust with him over the course of a long telephone conversation. He's confident that Riley wants him to be the centerpiece of that franchise for a long time to come."
The Heat could not sign Mourning right now except at a 20 percent raise, under the provisions of the salary cap.
Next summer - under a rule that allows teams to re-sign their own players at any price - they can pay him unlimited money.
Falk disputed that the Hornets had offered Mourning $11.2 million per year. He said their last offer was $10 million a year for seven years. And, he said, that was actually less than an $11 million-a-year offer the franchise made to Mourning last year.
The deal will make the Hornets deeper in several spots. Now the question is whether they'll be so deep that it leads to bickering about playing time.
Rice, for example, adds to a list of shooting guards and small forwards that already includes Rafael Addison, Scott Burrell, Dell Curry, Darrin Hancock and Kendall Gill.
But the addition of Rice, who was ninth in the NBA last year with a scoring
average of 22.3 points, should help the Hornets rather than hurt them, said Bob Bass, the team's vice president for basketball operations.
The big void for the Hornets will be in the middle, where Mourning last season led them in scoring (21.3), rebounding (9.9), blocks (2.9) and field- goal percentage (51.9 percent).
"It's a huge loss," said reserve center Robert Parish. "You don't replace an Alonzo Mourning. That type of talent doesn't come very often."
The 76ers will play the Hornets in Charlotte tonight.
"From the standpoint of us going to play Charlotte, I guess it helps us," said Sixers guard Jeff Malone. "He and LJ (Larry Johnson) worked so well together. And Muggsy Bogues is out.
"But I have seen teams that are down because of something like this and step it up. Even without Alonzo, you can't say we're better than Charlotte right now. We've got a lot of things to prove."
Said Sixers coach John Lucas: "The personality of Alonzo and Riley makes this a very good trade for Miami. It might disrupt the chemistry of both teams, but that will come along."
"Miami is going to be a lot better," Sixers guard Vernon Maxwell said. ''In Pete Myers they got a great defensive two-guard. If you look at their frontcourt with Alonzo and Kevin Willis, phew."
Riley had Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Los Angeles and Patrick Ewing in New York. Now he's got his big man in Miami.