Caleb Martin

Heat Notes: Yurtseven, Strus, Martin, Guy, Chalmers

The Heat not only won in Phoenix Saturday night against a Suns team with the league’s best record, they did it with a starting lineup that included Max Strus, Caleb Martin and Omer Yurtseven, writes John Hollinger of The Athletic. That trio makes up part of Hollinger’s “Dog Days Heroes,” recognizing under-the-radar players who have excelled in December and January.

Yurtseven signed with Miami in the final week of last season after a strong showing in the G League. He was the third center on the depth chart when the season began, but the Heat’s injuries and COVID-19 absences have given him an unexpected workload. He has responded by ranking second in the league in with a 23.8 rebound rate, along with a 4.1% block rate.

Strus, who spent most of last season recovering from a torn ACL, is shooting 41.8% from three-point range. He has also doubled his rebound rate this year and has improved on defense. Martin, who signed a two-way contract after the Hornets waived him in the offseason, has become a defensive presence in Miami and is getting points in transition. Hollinger expects him to get a standard deal later in the season when the Heat have enough room under the luxury tax to fill their final roster spot.

There’s more from Miami:

  • Kyle Guy has been outstanding, but the Heat don’t appear to have a roster spot for him after his 10-day hardship contract expired Saturday night, per Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Guy averaged 9.8 PPG in five games and shot 45% from three-point range. However, the open roster spot is likely being saved for Martin, and the Heat like the potential of Marcus Garrett, who holds the other two-way slot. A second 10-day deal for Guy may be unlikely because Garrett is the last Miami player in the protocols and he’s expected to be cleared soon. “I’m grateful for the opportunity and making the most of it,” Guy said Friday. “So they’ll tell me when they think they need to tell me. Whether that’s at the end of the 10-day or today or tomorrow, I don’t know. So we’ll see. But I have no idea.”
  • Veteran guard Mario Chalmers will see his 10-day hardship contract expire today, Chiang adds. He’s not ready to give up on playing yet, but he’s considering a future in coaching. “My mom was a coach, my dad was a coach, so I’ve been around coaches all my life,” Chalmers said. “It’s just something that I love the game of basketball so much that I’ll always want to be around it.” 
  • The Heat are in a strong position as the February 10 trade deadline approaches and shouldn’t feel any desperation to make a deal, contends Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel.

Heat Notes: Martin, Knight, Okpala, Yurtseven

Heat two-way forward Caleb Martin, who had been in the health and safety protocols since December 11, was back with the team on Thursday night, seated behind the bench, as Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel tweets.

A short-ramp up period may be necessary for Martin, who will have to pass cardiac tests before being cleared to return to the court. But it’s good news for both him and the Heat that he’s no longer quarantining and appears to be on the verge of reentering the rotation.

While Miami has had to deal with several injuries in recent weeks, Martin is the only player the team has had to place in the COVID-19 protocols so far this month.

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • The new roster rules that eliminate the 50-game limit for players on two-way contracts is welcome news for the Heat, since Martin has been among the NBA’s most productive two-way players so far this season and has already appeared in 23 games. However, as Barry Jackson and Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald write, the Heat still may have to make a decision on Martin later in the season, since two-way players remain ineligible for the playoffs. The team has an open spot on its 15-man roster for now, but figures to explore the buyout market in February.
  • Head coach Erik Spoelstra confirmed to reporters on Thursday that the Heat couldn’t have signed Brandon Knight via a hardship exception when Martin was in the protocols, since a replacement for a two-way player can’t have more than three years of NBA service (Twitter link via Chiang). Knight had been playing for Miami’s G League affiliate, but was called up by Dallas while the Heat signed forward Zylan Cheatham to a 10-day deal.
  • Although the Heat would obviously prefer to have a fully healthy roster, the silver lining is that little-used players like KZ Okpala and Omer Yurtseven are gaining valuable experience by being thrust into rotation roles, Chiang writes for The Miami Herald. “I know it’s a tough time of the season right now,” Udonis Haslem said. “We got a lot of injuries, but we’re banking a lot of equity right now with our younger guys getting experience. I think when we get back healthy, it’s only going to help us.”

Heat’s Caleb Martin Enters Health And Safety Protocols

Heat small forward Caleb Martin has been placed in the league’s health and safety protocols, tweets Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel.

Martin has been a valuable contributor off the bench in his first season with Miami, averaging a career-best 7.6 points and 3.2 rebounds in 23 games. He signed a two-way contract in September after being waived by Charlotte, where he spent his first two NBA seasons.

Martin is the first Heat player to enter the protocols, while tonight’s opponent, Chicago, is now up to seven. COVID-19 cases have sidelined several players and coaches around the league this week, with Martin being the fourth one announced today.

“I don’t even think I can make a rational comment on this right now,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said when asked about the COVID situation. “I literally was just informed of this within the last 10 minutes. So we just need to wait for a little bit more direction from the league, which they will give us some direction.” (Twitter link)

If Martin has tested positive for the virus, he will miss a minimum of 10 days unless he returns two consecutive negative tests more than 24 hours apart.

Heat Notes: Robinson, Martin, Dedmon, Okpala

Despite his shooting percentages decreasing so far this season, Heat swingman Duncan Robinson is still vital to the team’s offensive gameplan, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes.

As Chiang notes, Robinson has made just 33% of his threes, but his impact goes far beyond the accuracy. Since he shot 45% in 2019/20 and 41% in 2020/21, teams fear his ability to hit outside shots, which opens up driving lanes and spreads the floor for other players.

“He doesn’t have to make shots,” teammate Max Strus explained. “Obviously, he wants to shoot better. But just him being on the floor spaces the floor so much for us because guys aren’t going to help off of him.

“He has the reputation, everybody knows how good of a shooter he is. So guys aren’t going to help. He opens up so much floor space and when he’s in actions as a trigger, he creates so much for our offense because guys overreact to everything. He’s really valuable out on the floor at all times.”

In addition to his ability to spread the floor, Robinson’s durability has been commended by Heat officials. According to Chiang, the forward is on track to play in his 174th consecutive game on Saturday against Chicago, which would tie a franchise record set by Glen Rice in 1994.

Here are some other notes out of Miami:

  • Caleb Martin is proving to be a “slam dunk” bargain, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinal writes. Martin has been one of the league’s best players on a two-way contract this season. Most recently, he pitched in 28 points, eight rebounds and two blocks during the team’s 113-104 win over Milwaukee on Wednesday.
  • In a separate article for the Sun Sentinel, Winderman examines whether the Heat are getting enough out of backup center Dewayne Dedmon. The 32-year-old has been starting in place of Bam Adebayo (torn UCL). In 26 games, he’s averaged 5.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 15.6 minutes.
  • KZ Okpala impressed coaches and teammates alike with his performance against the Bucks, Chiang writes for the Miami Herald. Okpala recorded 10 points and nine rebounds off the bench, allowing Miami to play small with P.J. Tucker at center for various parts of the game.

Southeast Notes: Reddish, Bogdanovic, Okongwu, Hornets, Sabonis, Martin

Hawks forward Cam Reddish, who is recovering from a wrist injury, went through a full practice on Thursday, according to coach Nate McMillan. Reddish did some shooting and participated in drills at 75% speed. He’s listed as probable to play on Friday.

Bogdan Bogdanovic still needs more time to return from his ankle injury, Sarah Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports in a series of tweets. “Bogi’s not doing anything other than shooting. He looks better,” McMillan said. “He’s up on his feet and he’s moving around.”

Second-year big man Onyeka Okongwu is continuing his rehab assignment from shoulder surgery. He’s with the G League College Park Skyhawks and is expected to play on Thursday.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • There’s been no change regarding the Hornets‘ COVID-19 issues. LaMelo Ball, Jalen McDaniels, Mason Plumlee, Terry Rozier and Ish Smith are all listed as out for Friday’s game against Sacramento due to the league’s health and safety protocols, the team’s PR department tweets. Charlotte’s depleted roster has managed to beat Atlanta and lose two close games to Philadelphia since those players were sidelined over the weekend.
  • With a recent report claiming that the Pacers may shake up their roster, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington examines whether Domantas Sabonis should be a trade target for the Wizards. Hughes notes that Rui Hachimura and Thomas Bryant are expected to return soon and the front office would like to see how they fit with their revamped roster. Hughes adds that the club already has the look of a playoff team and the addition of Sabonis may not move the needle all that much.
  • Caleb Martin may eventually have his two-way contract converted to a standard deal by the Heat but there are luxury tax concerns, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald notes. Martin has been active for 24 of the Heat’s 26 games and can only be active for 50 games under two-way rules. If he remained on the active roster for every game, he’d be able to play until nearly the end of January. But the Heat would have to wait a couple of weeks after that to convert his contract in order to avoid surpassing the tax threshold.

Southeast Notes: C. Martin, Hachimura, Suggs, Hawks

Heat forward Caleb Martin has emerged as a regular rotation player this month, but his two-way contract could complicate his role as the season progresses, writes Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Two-way players can only be active for 50 of 82 games — Martin has been active for 17 of Miami’s first 19 contests, so if the club continues to use him regularly, he could reach his limit prior to the All-Star break. The easiest way to avoid that scenario would be to promote Martin to the 15-man roster, but the Heat aren’t filling their lone opening yet due to luxury tax concerns. As Winderman notes, Martin said this week that it’d be great to earn a standard contract, but that he’s not concerned about it yet.

“I haven’t really thought that far ahead,” Martin said. “I’ll leave that up to them. For them, that’s really on them to decide when they need me or when not. … Obviously that standard contract is what anybody who comes in on this situation works toward.”

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • Wizards forward Rui Hachimura, whose debut this season has been delayed due to a personal absence, still isn’t quite ready to return to action. According to Ava Wallace of The Washington Post (Twitter link), Hachimura didn’t accompany the team on its current four-game road trip, which runs through Monday.
  • Magic guard Jalen Suggs has struggled a little early in his rookie season, but after putting up 17 points and six assists in a loss to Charlotte on Wednesday, the first-year guard said he’s feeling more “comfortable and confident,” as Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel details. “These past four or five games I’ve felt I’ve kind of turned the corner [from] trying to get adjusted, trying to get my feet wet, because it’s just a completely different situation to now,” Suggs said.
  • Chris Kirschner and John Hollinger of The Athletic teamed up to discuss whether the Hawks make sense as a potential Ben Simmons suitor and how much urgency the team should feel to make a major consolidation trade. Kirschner doesn’t believe Atlanta needs to make a big in-season move, but thinks the team should seriously consider it during the 2022 offseason, a year before De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish are eligible for restricted free agency.

Southeast Notes: Washington, Bridges, Lowry, Martin, Okpala

Hornets big man P.J. Washington is missing at least this weekend of game action as he deals with a hyperextended left elbow, writes Roderick Boone of the Charlotte Observer. In his third NBA season, Washington is averaging 9.9 PPG, 4.4 RPG and 1.4 APG.

“He’s in good spirits,” Charlotte head coach James Borrego said Friday. “We’ll know more in the next two days. He’ll get further evaluated by a specialist in the next day or two, probably on Monday and we’ll know more at that time. We’re not going to jump to conclusions yet. We’ll see what comes out of that and make a plan from there.”

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • Hornets forward Miles Bridges has developed into one of the better scorers in the NBA during his fourth season, impressing his MSU coach Tom Izzo in the process, per Roderick Boone of the Charlotte Observer. Bridges is putting up career-high averages of 22.7 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.7 SPG and 0.9 BPG so far. “He couldn’t jump until he got to Michigan State,” Izzo said. “So I coached the s— out of him.”
  • New Heat point guard Kyle Lowry has been a big part of Miami’s early-season success, writes Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel“He wants the best available shot every possession,” center Bam Adebayo said of his new teammate. “That’s what I really like about Kyle. He’s one of those guys, he wants every play to be right, make or miss.” Lowry, 35, has taken a step back as a scorer for his new team, averaging 11.3 PPG, his lowest output since his 2009/10 season with the Rockets. At 7-2, the Heat are currently the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.
  • Emerging Heat small forward Caleb Martin may be outplaying his current two-way contract, and appears to be fulfilling the perimeter defender position Miami may have earmarked for third-year forward KZ Okpala, writes Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Given that Martin can only play for 50 games with Miami on his two-way deal before it must be converted to a standard contract (and has played meaningful minutes across six contests so far), Winderman wonders if the Heat will start feeling the roster crunch soon.

Heat Notes: Morris, Garrett, Martin, Haslem

After being used mostly as a floor-spacing big man with the Lakers over the last couple seasons, Markieff Morris is happy he’s getting more opportunities to operate inside the three-point arc with the Heat this season, says Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald.

“I’m finally back to basically where I had success at in the league early in my career,” Morris said this week. “For me personally, the game has changed a lot from when I first came in to now. Over here, these guys are doing a great job of letting me just play my game, and they’re playing to my strengths.”

Morris, who said he played a bit of a “one-dimensional” role in Los Angeles, averaged 3.4 three-point attempts and 2.8 two-pointers per game last season. So far this season, he’s attempting 2.3 threes and 5.3 two-pointers per contest.

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • With G League training camps underway, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said the plan is for Marcus Garrett to spend plenty of time with the Sioux Falls Skyforce, Miami’s NBAGL affiliate, this season, according to Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. However, the team’s other two-way player, Caleb Martin, is less likely to be sent on assignments to Sioux Falls, since Spoelstra views him as a “plug-and-play guy” for the Heat.
  • Asked why he decided to re-sign with the Heat again this summer, Udonis Haslem told Tyler R. Tynes of GQ that he believes he can inspire young players fighting to earn their place in the NBA. “I coulda quit a long time ago. But there’s (always) been another guy that comes in that reminds me of me: that wants an opportunity, that needs an opportunity, that deserves an opportunity,” Haslem said. “Every year I can find another Udonis Haslem that walks in that locker room. And I’m re-inspired and re-energized. I still have game to give. I still have my passion. I see those guys walk in the locker room and I’m just reborn again. It goes to the Bam Adebayos and Tyler Johnsons and the habits we create in this organization.”
  • Within an extensive conversation with Tynes, Haslem discussed “Heat Culture,” the team’s Big Three era, and the evolution of his role in the locker room over the years. The veteran big man, who is in his 19th season, also suggested that he’d like to play one more season beyond 2021/22: “If I can get 20 years, it’ll be an amazing career for a kid that no one thought would play in the league. All my sacrifices, everything I’ve given, the only thing I’ve asked for is to try to get to 20. I wanna give that to myself, and I wanted to give it to my father (who recently passed away).”

Eastern Notes: Rose, Martin Twins, Ball, Milton

Knicks guard Derrick Rose downplayed the ankle injury he suffered during the team’s preseason win over Washington on Saturday, as relayed by Marc Berman of the New York Post. Rose was dealing with the injury throughout the fourth quarter and left for the locker room with one minute remaining.

“It’s nothing serious at all, but if I kept playing I probably would’ve made it worse,’’ Rose said. “I think I probably did it myself. It’s the second game — all this is new, moving around, Thibs training camps are different. I just have to take my time. I’m getting older. I tweaked it but didn’t twist it all the way. Thibs understood [when I took myself out].’’

Rose is expected to serve as the team’s backup point guard behind Kemba Walker this season. He played a key role in the team’s success last season, averaging 14.9 points, 4.2 assists and 26.8 minutes per game in 35 contests.

There’s more from the Eastern Conference tonight:

Heat Notes: Lowry, Power Forwards, Martin, Camp Questions

New Heat starting point guard Kyle Lowry is looking forward to building an on-court relationship with incumbent stars Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

Lowry, a six-time All-Star and 2019 title winner with the Raptors, inked a three-year, $85MM contract with Miami in a sign-and-trade deal this summer. Butler and Lowry have been friends since winning a Gold medal together for Team USA in the 2016 Olympics. Lowry is the godfather to Butler’s daughter.

“Having that common interest in the love of the game and how hard we work and how much we want to win, that was the first thing of us being on the same page,” Lowry explained of the origins of his relationship with the All-NBA swingman.

Lowry also expressed excitement about what Adebayo brings to the floor. “Bam can handle the ball,” Lowry raved. “He can make plays, super athletic. He’s high energy. He’s competitive.” Lowry expects that his own facilitating abilities will benefit the big man. The 35-year-old hopes that he can help Adebayo “be in better spots” and get “easier looks, layups and dunks.”

There’s more out of South Beach:

  • Questions remain about how much three-point shooting the Heat will be able to get out of their power forward corps, writes Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. The team’s two new power forward additions, recent champions P.J. Tucker and Markieff Morris, have seen their long-range output dip recently. Tucker, 36, is a career 35.9% shooter, but his shooting fell to 32.2% from deep during the Bucks’ 2021 playoff run. Morris connected on 38.6% of his 3.9 triples per game with the Pistons and Lakers during the 2019/20 season, but saw that number fall to 31.1% in 2020/21. KZ Okpala and re-signed big man Dewayne Dedmon could also see time at the power forward position alongside starting Adebayo in Miami’s frontcourt, though both have been unreliable from long range. Dedmon had two seasons with the Hawks, in 2017/18 and 2018/19, in which he averaged 35.5% or better on a decent volume of three point attempts, but has not connected on more than 21% of his threes in a single season since. Seven-footer Omer Yurtseven, meanwhile, is a solid three-point shooter, but Jackson wonders if the Heat will trust him enough to give him meaningful minutes in their rotation.
  • With training camp just around the corner, new two-way player Caleb Martin will do his darnedest to prove his mettle as a candidate for legitimate Heat roster minutes, writes Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel“At the end of the day, regardless if I’m on a two-way or if I was on an Exhibit 10, it doesn’t matter,” Martin said. “I’m just coming into training camp to try to play the best basketball I can and contribute any way I can and impact enough in a way to where I earn minutes.”
  • The Heat are figuring out rotational questions for the fringes of their roster ahead of training camp, says Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Winderman notes that, in the absence of Kendrick Nunn (now with the Lakers) and Goran Dragic (traded to the Raptors as part of the Lowry deal), Gabe Vincent looks like he will begin the season as the Heat’s prime backup point guard. 6’5″ backup shooting guard Tyler Herro could see an uptick in ball handling duties. The rotational fate of forward Okpala, on the last season of a three-year deal, could be figured out in the club’s preseason. Winderman anticipates that Micah Potter, Javonte Smart, Dru Smith and D.J. Stewart will have plenty to prove in the preseason, though they will most likely spend the majority of the 2021/22 season with the Heat’s G League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce. Each player will hope to intrigue the Heat enough in training camp to encourage a call-up to Miami during the season.