Duncan Robinson

Heat Notes: Health, Oladipo, Reserves, Big Four

At 11-12, the Heat remain below .500 for the time being, but with their lineup finally getting healthy, the team submitted a statement win over the Celtics in Boston on Friday night, according to Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald, who suggests that it may be premature to rule out last year’s two Eastern Conference Finals teams meeting again in that series this year.

“We never lost confidence in this group, in ourselves,” Jimmy Butler said after the victory, Miami’s fourth in five games. “We know what we’re capable of. We just have to go out and prove it. We’re not worried about anybody else, just the guys in our locker room and coaching staff, ownership, management. We have a long way to go but we can get there.”

Given that the Heat are still outside of the playoff picture in the East, tied for ninth in the conference, they’ll need to show more to be widely considered a serious threat to make it to the Finals. But the players in the locker room aren’t worried about what outside observers think the team can and can’t do.

“You got to think about it, we were No. 1 in the East (last season) and people didn’t even pay us any mind,” Bam Adebayo said. “Then being where we’re at now, they’re definitely not talking about us. The biggest thing for us is just stacking up the wins.”

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • Victor Oladipo, who has been sidelined all season due to a knee injury, isn’t ready to offer a specific target date for his return, but said “hopefully soon” when asked when he might be ready to suit up, per Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. “We’ll see. It’s more of a day to day thing, how I feel and what we feel makes the best sense,” Oladipo said. “I trust our training staff and the people I work with as well, coming up with a solid plan and make sure I’m ready to go.”
  • Although Oladipo and Omer Yurtseven remain on the shelf, the Heat are otherwise relatively healthy after fighting a serious battle with the injury bug during the first quarter of the season. Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel examines whether a handful of Miami’s reserves, including Haywood Highsmith, Duncan Robinson, and Nikola Jovic, will continue to see regular playing time now that the depth chart isn’t quite so thin.
  • Friday’s win over Boston represented the first time in over a month that the Heat had Butler, Adebayo, Kyle Lowry, and Tyler Herro all available for the same game. As Winderman details in another Sun Sentinel story, head coach Erik Spoelstra is referring to that quarter as his “Big Four,” and they lived up to that moniker on Friday, scoring 99 of Miami’s 120 points.

Eastern Notes: Simmons, Smart, Heat Injuries, Knicks

Ben Simmons will miss his sixth game this season on Wednesday due to a sore left knee. Nets point guard Kyrie Irving said Simmons’ absences impact the club in many ways, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes.

“When he’s not out there we don’t have our point forward, our point guard, being able to initiate easy opportunities, push the ball in transition; so we’ll definitely miss him in the lineup,” Irving said. “Hopefully he comes back [soon], but if he’s dealing with it we just want him to get as healthy as possible and we’ll figure it out.”

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • In Joe Mazzulla, Celtics guard Marcus Smart feels he has a head coach that fully trusts him, he told Steve Bulpett of Heavy.com. “I think once Coach put his trust in me, we’ve seen how it’s allowed me to blossom and this team to blossom,” Smart said. “So just having a coach that can believe in you and allow you to run the team like he needs you to, that means everything. And then on top of that him being a point guard, that’s just an extra bonus, because he understands the pressure that I have to go through as the point guard in making everybody else happy and sacrificing your own for the team.”
  • The Heat released their injury report for Wednesday’s game and there’s no less than a dozen names on the list heading into their showdown with the Celtics, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald tweets. Jimmy Butler, Victor Oladipo and Omer Yurtseven are listed as out, while Nikola Jovic, Dewayne Dedmon, Gabe Vincent, Caleb Martin, Tyler Herro, Haywood Highsmith and Duncan Robinson received the questionable tag. Two other players are probable.
  • The most realistic path to improvement for the Knicks is still the trade route, Ian Begley of SNY TV opines. They’ll continue to seek out top talent and have a surplus of draft picks and some young players to offer teams. Stuck in mediocrity, the only question is whether they’ll make a big move before the trade deadline or wait until the offseason.

Heat Notes: Butler, Martin, Jovic, Lowry, Highsmith

Friday marks Jimmy Butler‘s fifth consecutive absence due to right knee soreness, and he’s likely out Sunday at Atlanta as well. However, the expectation is that the 33-year-old forward will return for Wednesday’s game at Boston, according to Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel (free account required).

In addition to Butler, Duncan Robinson (left ankle sprain) and Max Strus (right shoulder impingement) continue to deal with their own injuries, Winderman notes. Robinson has now missed three straight, while Friday is Strus’ second straight missed game.

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • After signing a three-year, $20.4MM to remain with Miami in the offseason, forward Caleb Martin continues to make progress as a player, Winderman writes for The Sun Sentinel. “Caleb has grown and changed from what he was previously, before,” head coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I still think he’s going to have a game where he’ll be flirting with some triple-doubles, just the way he’s getting into dribble handoffs, the way he can get shooters open shots. There’s going to be one of those nights where he’s just going to fall into all of those being makes, and you’ll look up and he’s going to have eight assists with eight minutes to go in the fourth quarter. I told him the big thing is can he get 10 rebounds. I know he can get the points and assists. He has a knack for the ball, so he’s going to be able to get that as well.” The 27-year-old has hit his stride over the last six games (39.5 minutes), averaging 15.0 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.2 blocks on .515/.452/.800 shooting.
  • Rookie Nikola Jovic has flashed intriguing potential as an injury-replacement starter, per Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald (subscriber link). The 19-year-old forward has a lot of work to do defensively, but the Heat are pleased with how he’s developing early on in 2022/23. “He has really good offensive instincts not only as a passer but as a screener, how to get into open spaces, how to execute different things and then his passing and his vision,” Spoelstra said. “As soon as he got here, that was probably his No. 1 strength — his ability to make other guys better. And he’s not afraid of the moment. So he’s comfortable out there, he’s earning the respect of everybody in the locker room and he’s earning his stripes right now.”
  • Miami continues to be ravaged by injuries, which is the primary reason the team has lost four of its last five games, but Kyle Lowry has been playing some of his best basketball in a Heat uniform, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Haywood Highsmith‘s defense and Martin’s all-around game have also been positives with Miami severely shorthanded, Jackson observes. The Heat are currently 8-11, the No. 12 seed in the East.

Trade Rumors: Collins, Jazz, Clarkson, Fournier, Robinson, More

Many around the NBA thought it was a foregone conclusion that John Collins would be moved ahead of the draft this past summer, and Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack article that the Hawks power forward was “very nearly” dealt to the Kings in June.

Sources tell Stein that there’s “momentum building on all sides” for Collins to be traded during the 2022/23 season, so his name should be “right at the top of the list” of players most likely to be dealt before the February 9 deadline.

Stein confirms that the Jazz have shown interest in Collins, and that’s a noteworthy pivot for a team that many believed would be tanking and a frontrunner for a top lottery pick after dealing away Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell and other veterans.

Speaking of Utah, a rival executive tells Stein that he thinks the Jazz are more likely to extend Jordan Clarkson‘s contract than trade him. Michael Scotto of HoopsHype hears similarly, saying there’s “palpable buzz” about a potential Clarkson extension.

Here are a few more trade rumors from Scotto, who takes a look at the top trade candidates for each NBA team:

  • The Knicks are reluctant to part with a first-round pick to move off Evan Fournier‘s contract, sources tell Scotto. Fournier has fallen out of New York’s rotation after a prolonged shooting slump and is owed $18MM this season and $18.9MM in 2023/24. In addition to Derrick Rose and Immanuel Quickley, rival executives also believe that second-year guard Miles McBride is available due to the team’s backcourt logjam, per Scotto.
  • The Heat have made Duncan Robinson available in trade talks, sources tell Scotto. That’s hardly surprising since Robinson, like Fournier, has struggled and fallen out of the rotation at times in ’22/23. The problem is Miami would almost certainly have to attach assets to deal Robinson, who is owed $57.5MM over the next three seasons, and it remains to be seen whether the Heat are willing to do so.
  • Echoing a previous report, Scotto writes that the Lakers were trying to offload Russell Westbrook to the Spurs for Doug McDermott and Josh Richardson before the season started. While LJ Ellis of SpursTalk.com stated that the Lakers were only willing to attach two second-round picks to Westbrook’s enormous expiring contract, Scotto hears the Lakers offered a lottery-protected first-rounder and the Spurs wanted that pick to be unprotected, which caused the talks to stall.
  • Center Nerlens Noel is not expected to finish the ’22/23 season with the Pistons, according to Scotto. It’s unclear if Scotto means he’ll be bought out at some point or moved in a trade, since Noel’s $9.2MM contract doesn’t have positive value given how many injuries he’s dealt with the past couple seasons.

Heat Notes: Adebayo, Jovic, Robinson, Butler, Herro, Tax Concerns

The current road trip is turning into a disaster for the short-handed Heat, but Sunday’s loss at Cleveland gave coach Erik Spoelstra a chance to experiment with a new lineup combination, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. First-round pick Nikola Jovic played 17 minutes alongside Bam Adebayo, giving the team two big men who are known for their passing skills.

Although the pairing didn’t get off to a great start — Miami was outscored by four points in their time on the court together — it may be a combination that Spoelstra turns to more often in the future. Adebayo attributed the early struggles to “growing pains” and said he enjoys being partnered with Jovic.

“I feel like with two passing bigs, we can feed off each other,” Adebayo said. “As you can see, (Jovic is) showing he can get in the gaps, he can see stuff. Just working with two guys that can pass, who are versatile, I feel like it makes our offense better.”

There’s more on the Heat:

  • The last thing Miami needed was another injury, but Duncan Robinson limped off the court in the fourth quarter after spraining his left ankle, Chiang states in a separate story. Robinson played 21 minutes after missing Friday’s game with a sprained right hand, but he had to leave Sunday’s contest after stepping on another player’s foot. Spoelstra said Robinson’s status for tonight’s game in Minnesota is uncertain.
  • The Heat got some good news about Jimmy Butler, who had to return to Miami over the weekend due to right knee soreness, Chiang adds. Tests on Butler’s knee showed no damage, and there’s a chance he could return Wednesday or Friday. Tyler Herro has missed the past seven games with a sprained left ankle, and Spoelstra said, “He’s not quite ready.” 
  • Miami had just seven healthy players on Friday and 10 on Sunday, but luxury tax concerns have prevented the team from filling its open roster spot, Chiang explains in another piece. The Heat are about $200K below the threshold and can’t add another player right now without becoming a taxpaying team. Even a small tax payment this season would have repeater tax ramifications going forward — the team projects to be a taxpayer in upcoming years after signing Herro to a large extension last month.

Jimmy Butler Out At Least Three Games With Knee Soreness

After being ruled out of Friday’s game at Washington with knee soreness, Heat star Jimmy Butler is expected to return to Miami on Saturday and miss upcoming road games at Cleveland on Sunday and at Minnesota on Monday as well, Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel reports (via Twitter).

The Heat are absolutely decimated by injuries at the moment. Victor Oladipo (knee tendinosis) and Omer Yurtseven (ankle surgery) have yet to play this season; Udonis Haslem is away from the team for personal reasons; Tyler Herro (ankle) and Dewayne Dedmon (non-COVID illness) are both out Friday; Gabe Vincent was initially not on the injury report but experienced swelling in his knee after today’s shootaround and has subsequently been ruled out; Duncan Robinson caught his hand in a jersey during shootaround and will miss his first career game due to injury; and finally, Bam Adebayo is out Friday after previously being listed as questionable (All Twitter links via Winderman).

That leaves just Kyle Lowry, Max Strus, Caleb Martin, Haywood Highsmith and Nikola Jovic available out of the 14-man standard roster, plus two-way rookies Jamal Cain and Orlando Robinson for a total of seven healthy players. According to Winderman (Twitter link), the Heat plan to list Vincent as active despite being ruled out to meet the minimum requirement of eight players in uniform.

On a positive note, there’s a chance Herro could return Sunday against the Cavs, Winderman tweets. Friday will market his sixth straight absence due to a left ankle sprain.

The Heat are currently 7-8, the No. 10 seed in the East.

Heat Notes: Spoelstra, Herro, Westbrook, Strus

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra believes the team will soon solve its offensive issues after losing five of its first seven games, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes. The fact that they play six of the next seven games at home should help the Heat fix their problems.

We’re closer than we are further away from it,” Spoelstra said. “But when you add losses to it, sometimes it can feel like you’re far away. But we’re not that far away.”

We have more on the Heat:

  • The issue regarding Tyler Herro is not whether he’s worthy of a starting role but rather if he’s better off as a sixth man, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel opines. What the Heat have gotten so far from Herro is a player still finding his way in that role. Herro is averaging 19.9 points and 2.9 assists in seven starts, compared to 20.7 points and 4.0 assists last season while playing the same number of minutes.
  • Trading Kyle Lowry and Duncan Robinson to the Lakers for Russell Westbrook wouldn’t make any sense, given that the franchise is always focused on going deep in the playoffs, Winderman writes in a separate story. While Westbrook’s $47MM contract would come off the books next summer, that would only ease luxury tax concerns rather than opening up significant cap space.
  • Max Strus is headed for free agency next offseason and he’ll get a huge bump in salary wherever he winds up. A mid-level taxpayer deal is a likely scenario, according to an executive interviewed by Heavy.com’s Sean Deveney. Strus says he’s not sweating the details. “If you get caught up in that stuff, it affects your play so I try not to think about it. I just do my best and put myself in a position for good things to happen,” he said.

Heat Notes: Robinson, Martin, Yurtseven, Lowry

Coming off a frustrating year, followed by a summer of hearing his name in trade rumors, Heat swingman Duncan Robinson is approaching this season with a “big chip” on his shoulder, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Robinson put together two straight outstanding shooting seasons that earned him a five-year, $90MM contract last summer. The expectations that came with the new deal seemed to affect him, and Robinson was pulled from the starting lineup in March.

“You go through something like I went through last year, you definitely grow from that between the ears for sure,” Robinson said, adding that he became “hardened” by the adversity.

He’s off to a much better start this season, though his playing time is about half of what it used to be. Coming into tonight’s game, Robinson has made 6-of-12 three-point shots and hasn’t committed a turnover in 47 minutes of action.

There’s more on the Heat:

  • Caleb Martin may consider an appeal of his one-game suspension for fighting with Toronto’s Christian Koloko, Jackson adds in a separate story. Martin sat out Monday’s game, but he could still potentially recover the roughly $45K in salary that it cost him. “It’s tough watching knowing you can contribute to a win,” he said. “Overall I’m feeling like I definitely could have contributed for sure. Especially when you lose, you are going to think that loss is on you. That’s how you learn. I learned from that, make sure I don’t do it again.”
  • Omer Yurtseven is traveling with the team, but he’s not expected to play during the three-game road trip, according to Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. The back-up center has been sidelined with a left ankle impingement, and the coaching staff wants to be with him while he does rehab work. “I think I’m going to be back in less than a week, hopefully,” Yurtseven said. “But I’ve got to sacrifice and I’ve just got to take the pain that comes with it, and that’s what I’m going to do. But hopefully sooner rather than later. But less than a week is my hope.”
  • Kyle Lowry talks about the team’s early-season frustrations in another Winderman story. Lowry suggests there’s an adjustment period to having Tyler Herro in the starting lineup and trying to get more offense from Bam Adebayo, and says the players need time to get comfortable with the changes. In a mailbag, Winderman notes that last year’s Lowry trade didn’t look good for the Heat on Monday, with Precious Achiuwa grabbing 22 rebounds for the Raptors.

Heat Notes: Robinson, Highsmith, Cain, Mulder

Duncan Robinson is in the second year of a five-year, $90MM contract. The first year of the deal didn’t go well for the Heat swingman, as he lost his starting job late in the season and was the subject of numerous trade rumors.

Robinson is ready to hit the reset button, as shown by his 29-point outing against the Grizzlies on Friday, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes.

“Just based off of how last year went — lots to learn from, lots to grow from,” he said. “So just to be very discerning over what it is I want to take with me, what I want to take from the experience and how I can actually be resourceful and use it to better myself, better the team, better myself as a player.”

Robinson has worked on improving defensively and becoming a more diverse offensive player.

We have more on the Heat:

  • Haywood Highsmith only has a partial guarantee on his contract this season but he’s impressed coach Erik Spoelstra in the preseason, according to Nekias Duncan of Basketball News. “I don’t view him as a young player,” Spoelstra said. “I understand he doesn’t have an extensive NBA experience — but he’s played some very good basketball in the G League. He has had to grind and earn everything and every opportunity that he’s been given. He just continues to get better each year.”
  • Rookie forward Jamal Cain earned a two-way contract with his performances during camp and preseason games, according to Spoelstra. as Chiang relays. “Over the course of the last several weeks, we’ve been able to see his work ethic and how much he’s improved because of his approach and work ethic,” he said. “Then he had several good moments in training camp and the last two preseason games.” Miami is expected to keep a roster spot open and waive its players currently on Exhibit 10 deals — Mychal MulderJamaree Bouyea, Orlando Robinson and Dru Smith — then have them join its G League team.
  • Mulder is in his third stint with the organization and Spoelstra compares him to former swingman Rodney McGruder due to his “perseverance and grit,” Chiang writes in another story. “You might not be the 20-year-old prospect, but you’re still a prospect in our eyes,” Spoelstra said of Mulder. “We value Mychal’s makeup. His game certainly fits. His ability to catch and shoot off the ball, but his makeup, how he carries himself, his progression, these are the kind of things that we want to go out of our way to try to help him. It might be here, it might be somewhere else.”

Heat Notes: Herro, Robinson, Oladipo, Jovic

After waiting all summer for an extension, Heat shooting guard Tyler Herro has agreed to a deal that could top many of his peers, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Herro’s new contract, which takes effect next season, could pay him up to $130MM over four years, with $120MM guaranteed and the rest available through incentives.

Herro has the opportunity to earn more than the Knicks’ RJ Barrett, who recently agreed to a four-year, $120MM rookie scale extension, Jackson notes. Herro’s deal also exceeds the Celtics’ Jaylen Brown, who got a four-year, $107MM extension in 2019, and the Suns’ Mikal Bridges, who signed for four years at $90MM in 2021.

Herro’s base starting salary will be $26.8MM, which is a 20% discount from the projected max, tweets salary cap expert Albert Nahmad.

There’s more from Miami:

  • The Heat may find it more difficult to find a taker for Duncan Robinson now that Herro’s extension is in place, according to Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. With Herro making just $5.7MM this year on the final season of his rookie contract, he was seen as a possible incentive in a deal for Robinson, but the poison pill provision will make Herro extremely difficult to move in 2022/23. Winderman states that the Heat will be limited financially unless they can find a taker for Robinson, especially with Max Strus headed toward free agency next summer.
  • After four years of battling injuries, Victor Oladipo is just focused on staying healthy this season, Winderman adds in a separate story. “I really don’t have any goals or expectations for myself,” he said. “For this team, it’s to win a championship, obviously. But for me, it’s to contribute. Right now, I’m just focused on doing that. I think that sometimes, if we get too far ahead, or look too far back, that sometimes we can be disappointed, and sometimes you can lose sight of what is in front of you. For me, I’m just trying to stay in the moment.”
  • Nikola Jovic struggled through Summer League, but veteran big man Udonis Haslem sees a lot of potential in the first-round pick, per Payton Titus of The Miami Herald. “[Jović] can score anywhere on the basketball court, can shoot with either hand, hard worker,” Haslem said. “Just experience, you know, experience is going to be the biggest thing that he’s going to need is this time over here working with us. The practice every day, competing, the physicality of it, getting in the weight room. And all those things are part of player development that we do very well here.”