MIAMI -- Gary Payton's quest for an NBA championship will apparently continue in Miami.

The nine-time All-Star guard is on the verge of signing a one-year free agent deal with the Heat, a move that could be formally announced as early as Thursday.

Payton's agent, Aaron Goodwin, said he will be in Miami on Thursday to continue his ongoing dialogue with Heat president Pat Riley and other team officials. Although Miami has its entire $5 million mid-level exception available, the team could land Payton for as little as the veteran's minimum of about $1.1 million.

"I met with Pat this past weekend, I'll come down and we'll go from there," Goodwin said Wednesday night.

Goodwin would not divulge if the meeting is a mere formality, or if the sides still have a bit more work to do before reaching a firm agreement.

"Nothing yet, but we're definitely getting close," Goodwin said.

The move is certainly one that will make Shaquille O'Neal happy; the Heat's 12-time All-Star center openly lobbied for Miami to sign Payton, who averaged 11.3 points and 6.1 assists for Boston last season.

Payton, 37, joined O'Neal in Los Angeles two years ago -- primarily because of the lure that those Lakers could win the NBA title. That team, however, lost to Detroit in the 2004 NBA Finals, a few weeks before O'Neal was shipped to the Heat.

Payton will be entering his 16th NBA season, and the Heat will presumably become the fifth franchise he's played for, joining Seattle, Milwaukee, the Lakers and Boston. He's averaged 17.6 points, 7.2 assists and 2.0 steals during his career.

He'll become the latest new acquisition for the Heat, who lost two starters -- swingman Eddie Jones, in a trade, and point guard Damon Jones, through free agency -- off a team that won 59 games and posted the best regular-season record in the Eastern Conference last season.

Among the new faces already in the fold: point guard Jason Williams, another O'Neal favorite, and forwards Antoine Walker and James Posey. That trio all arrived as part of the league-record 13-player, five-team deal that sent Eddie Jones to Memphis.

Heat guard Dwyane Wade said he's welcoming all the changes, and amid reports that Payton's signing was imminent, indicated that he would welcome Payton if the veteran decided to join the Heat.

"Anybody who comes into Miami, if they sign on the dotted line then they'll understand what we're trying to do here," Wade said. "I have no problem with it at all. He knows we're about winning right now."