Kyle Lowry finished last season as a reserve and spent the summer hearing rumors that Damian Lillard was coming to Miami, but he’s back as the Heat’s starting point guard and still playing at a high level, writes Eric Koreen of The Athletic. Lowry’s expiring $29.7MM contract has kept him in trade rumors, but wherever he winds up, he wants a consistent on-court role.
“I want to be able to play,” Lowry said. “The one thing about me is I’m a competitor. I might not be able to play 45 minutes a night. If I have an opportunity to play basketball and I can play, I want to be able to help. Being a mentor is something I do every day, and I’ve been doing it every day for a long time in my career. That’s something I (need) to do. It’s something I’ve been doing.”
With Lowry set to turn 38 in March, Koreen suggests he may be one of the few NBA players ever to remain productive at age 40. A wave of injuries to teammates has resulted in Lowry playing the most minutes of anyone on Miami’s roster so far, Koreen adds, but coach Erik Spoelstra is being careful not to overextend him. Lowry is a valuable part of the offense — shooting 43.6% from three-point range and sporting an assist-to-turnover ratio of about 4-to-1 — and the Heat will need him fresh and healthy for the playoffs.
“It’s a symbiotic relationship,” Spoelstra said. “But we need that Hall of Fame point guard play from him to really unlock some of the things we’re trying to do.”
There’s more on the Heat:
- Spoelstra used his 14th different starting lineup in 21 games, with a combination of Lowry, Duncan Robinson, Jimmy Butler, Caleb Martin and Orlando Robinson that had only shared the court for 10 combined minutes prior to Wednesday, according to Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. With Bam Adebayo sidelined by a hip contusion, Orlando Robinson made his second consecutive start at center and delivered the first double-double of his career with 15 points and 12 rebounds. “He gets better each month and you saw that tonight,” Spoelstra said. “He had a lot of big plays. The rebounding down the stretch, his defensive detail work was really good.”
- Martin appears fully recovered from the left knee tendinosis that caused him to miss 10 games early in the season, Chiang adds. He has averaged 18.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists over his last five games and is looking more like the player who had an important role in Miami’s run to the NBA Finals.
- R.J. Hampton is close to returning from the sprained knee he suffered in late October, per Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. Spoelstra said the Heat are eager to continue the development process with Hampton, who may be assigned to the G League once he’s cleared to resume playing.