Gabe Vincent

Heat Notes: Playoff Race, Love, Vincent, O. Robinson

The Heat are preparing for the most important week of the season in their effort to avoid the play-in tournament, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Miami is seventh in the East at 39-34, three-and-a-half games behind the Knicks and one game behind the Nets. The Heat will host New York on Wednesday and then will welcome Brooklyn on Saturday.

“It’s like our March madness, our April madness. It really is,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I see the similarities right now. Every game is a must-win. And if you’re a competitor, you have to love this. Maybe not exactly where we are and how we got here. It doesn’t matter.”

The Heat didn’t expect to be fighting for a playoff spot after posting the best record in the East last season, but a combination of injuries and inconsistent play has resulted in a disappointing year. Although the players would prefer the security that comes with a top-six finish, they believe they can be a tough playoff matchup from any spot.

“As long as we win, I think we’re going to be all right, no matter what place we’re in,” Jimmy Butler said, “whether we’re in the play-in, whether we’re the eight seed against the one. As long as you win, I don’t think you have too much to worry about.”

There’s more from Miami:

  • The Heat’s defense has imploded since the All-Star break, but the blame shouldn’t fall on new addition Kevin Love, Chiang adds in another Miami Herald story. Chiang notes that Miami’s defensive rating has actually been better with Love in the game, although that’s partially because he usually shares the court with Butler and Bam Adebayo.
  • Gabe Vincent is trying to avoid being distracted by his upcoming free agency, but he admits it’s on his mind, per Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. Vincent has taken over as Miami’s starting point guard while Kyle Lowry has been dealing with knee pain. “I feel like I have established myself in this league and showed everyone, all 30 teams, that I can play and I can help a team win,” Vincent said. “So in terms of being stressed out about it, I’m going to leave that to my agent and let him deal with it and just do what I can to help the Miami Heat the remainder of this year.”
  • The Heat may not be done with Orlando Robinson, Winderman suggests in a separate story. He notes that Robinson is still eligible for four more NBA games on his two-way contract, and Spoelstra seems to have more confidence in him than Omer Yurtseven as the backup center. Winderman adds that Cody Zeller is likely to take that role whenever he returns from a broken nose.

Southeast Notes: Lowry, Robinson, Clifford, Davis

The Heat are trying to manage Kyle Lowry‘s knee issues and he’s trying to adjust to a second-unit role. Erik Spoelstra is seeing some benefits from Lowry coming off the bench, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel writes.

“We’re trying to figure this out, and it’s really more of a health issue than it is a performance issue or even strategy concern,” the Heat coach said. “Want to make sure that he continues to feel good and then we can hopefully scale more minutes. But what we saw the other night was one of those great benefits and luxuries of having a Hall of Fame point guard be able to organize that group.”

Lowry has averaged 19.5 minutes the last two games. The Heat have listed him as questionable for their game against Chicago on Saturday.

We have more Southeast Division tidbits:

  • Restoring Duncan Robinson to the Heat rotation is unlikely at this point, as Winderman explains in his latest mailbag. Robinson’s best shot at minutes would be to have Kevin Love and Gabe Vincent removed from the rotation, since Max Strus and Victor Oladipo are also fighting for playing time.
  • The Hornets have won only 22 games and they’re currently on a four-game losing streak, but coach Steve Clifford is still riding his players hard and warning them to not mentally check out the rest of the way, Roderick Boone of the Charlotte Observer reports. “I want us to try to play to win,” he said. “We’re doing a lot of individual messaging with guys about what they can concentrate on. I don’t want to just play it out. I don’t want to do that. I don’t think that’s smart to do.” Clifford’s status beyond this season is questionable with Michael Jordan looking to sell his stake in the franchise.
  • Lottery pick Johnny Davis hasn’t impacted the Wizards’ season but he’s received some notable playing time in the last two games. He enjoyed his best game of the season against Detroit with 11 points and five rebounds in a 19-minute stint, Josh Robbins of The Athletic notes. “He’s just kind of found a rhythm on the court, off the court (and with) NBA life,” Corey Kispert said. “It’s all hard to adjust to. He kind of settled into his daily routine. When your headspace is right off the floor, then your game just kind of follows.”

Heat Notes: Lowry, Dragic, Jovic, Yurtseven

Kyle Lowry will miss his 10th straight game Wednesday due to knee soreness, but the Heat haven’t been aggressively pursuing another point guard in the buyout market, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Lowry was flown to Philadelphia on Sunday and took part in a practice in hopes of playing Monday. He was briefly upgraded to questionable before being ruled out.

Jackson cites several factors for the team’s lack of urgency to find a replacement for Lowry, even with Russell Westbrook, Patrick Beverley and Reggie Jackson all receiving buyouts and John Wall still on the market. Heat officials remain confident that Lowry will eventually return and can still play at a high level, and they’re happy with how Gabe Vincent has performed in his absence.

Miami also believed it had greater needs in the frontcourt, Jackson notes, which is why Kevin Love and Cody Zeller were prioritized on the buyout market. The front office looked into Westbrook, a source tells Jackson, but decided not to pursue him due to deficiencies on defense and with three-point shooting, as well as a negative review from a league insider.

Jackson hears that the Heat also had interest in Kyrie Irving when he asked the Nets for a trade, but management wasn’t unanimous in believing he would be a good addition. Miami never aggressively pursued a deal with Brooklyn, according to Jackson’s sources.

There’s more from Miami:

  • Longtime Heat point guard Goran Dragic may seem like an obvious target after being waived by the Bulls Tuesday, but Jackson doesn’t expect him to wind up in Miami. He and the team still have a good relationship, but sources tell Jackson there are more likely destinations, including the Mavericks, where he could team with fellow Slovenian Luka Doncic.
  • After falling into seventh place during a recent losing streak, the Heat will open a crucial six-game home stand Wednesday as they try to avoid the play-in tournament, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. It’s not a position the team expected to be in, but Udonis Haslem said players are focused on landing a top-six spot. “I don’t operate well in losing spaces. I’m tired of losing like Jimmy (Butler),” Haslem said. “We just got to keep fighting, though. We got a locker room full of fighters, we got a locker room full of guys who have built their reputation off hard work and they wouldn’t be here without that. So we got to go back to our roots and what got us here — busting our [butt] and working hard.”
  • The Heat have assigned Nikola Jovic and Omer Yurtseven to their G League affiliate as they try to return from injuries, tweets Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Jovic has been sidelined since late December with a back injury, while Yurtseven is rehabbing from ankle surgery that has kept him out all season.

Heat Notes: Love, Martin, Lowry, Yurtseven

New addition Kevin Love got the surprise start at power forward on Friday night for the Heat, tweets Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. That moves Caleb Martin to the bench for the first time in 2022/23, Winderman adds (via Twitter).

Head coach Erik Spoelstra said it was a bit surprising that Love was available and a called the decision to sign him a “no-brainer,” Winderman writes in a story for The Sun Sentinel.

First you go through the trade deadline and see if there was anything that makes sense, and there really wasn’t.” Spoelstra said. “And then you’re just hopeful, you’re not really sure of who’s going to get bought out. And you hear rumors. This one was a little bit of a surprise. And then when Kevin became available or at least there was possible discussion about it, everybody was all in on it. It was a no-brainer. The fit just makes a lot of sense for all of us.”

Part of the reason I’m surprised that Love got the starting nod is that Martin has been solid this season, averaging 10.1 PPG, 5.2 RPG and 1.0 SPG on .454/.361/.764 shooting in 49 games (30.3 MPG). The other reason I’m surprised is that Love had been out of Cleveland’s rotation for the final 12 games leading into the All-Star break, which is reportedly why he wanted a buyout — this is his first appearance in a month.

Here’s more from Miami:

  • The team’s other recent addition, center Cody Zeller, was the first reserve to enter for the Heat in Friday’s contest, notes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (via Twitter). Zeller spent his first eight seasons in Charlotte, but played for Portland in ’21/22.
  • Point guard Kyle Lowry, who has been dealing with knee soreness, isn’t traveling with the team this weekend, but there’s a chance he could rejoin the team in Philadelphia on Monday, per Winderman (Twitter link).
  • According to Jackson, the Heat are weighing the possibility of using Lowry off the bench when he returns, though that decision also depends on how well Gabe Vincent and the Heat perform in his absence. Lowry heard his name pop up in trade rumors, but no deal was made. Jackson writes that Lowry and the Heat are on good terms and they’re confident on his knee prognosis, which played a factor in Miami adding two frontcourt players and not another ball-handler.
  • The plan is for Omer Yurtseven to play with Miami’s G League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, in about a week, per Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald (subscriber link). Yurtseven is ramping up for his season debut following ankle surgery. “It’s going to be South Dakota, play in Sioux Falls for a bit and then feel good and move on,” Yurtseven said. “Step by step.”

Heat Notes: Yurtseven, Lowry, O. Robinson, Ibaka

The Heat’s approach to the buyout market may depend on the prognosis for Omer Yurtseven and Kyle Lowry, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Miami will have two roster openings when Jamaree Bouyea‘s two-way contract expires and will have to fill at least one of them within two weeks of that date.

Yurtseven is recovering after undergoing left ankle surgery in November and is expected to make his season debut shortly after the All-Star break. He appeared in 56 games as a rookie last season and might be entrusted with the backup center minutes. If the Heat are confident in Yurtseven, they may not look to add a free agent big man.

Chiang notes that the team’s level of confidence in Yurtseven could also affect Orlando Robinson, who has been the reserve center for the past month but can only be on the active roster for six more games on his two-way contract. Miami could fill one of its roster spots by converting Robinson to a standard deal, which would make him eligible for the playoffs, but the need to do that is lessened if Yurtseven takes over as the backup center.

Lowry, who’s dealing with soreness in his left knee, is expected to miss the rest of February and maybe more time beyond that, according to Chiang. The Heat are rumored to be a potential suitor for Russell Westbrook if he reaches a buyout with Utah, and Lowry’s health could affect how they proceed.

There’s more on the Heat:

  • There may be mutual interest with Serge Ibaka, who was waived by the Pacers over the weekend, Chiang adds. The 33-year-old only played 16 games for the Bucks before being traded, but he could provide shot blocking and outside shooting, along with a wealth of playoff experience.
  • Chiang points out that Miami can be competitive on the buyout market following last week’s trade of Dewayne Dedmon. The Heat are now almost $5MM under the threshold, allowing them to use their $4.1MM bi-annual exception or the roughly $3.2MM left on their mid-level exception without facing tax penalties.
  • Lowry’s injury may open the door to making him a bench player once he returns, suggests Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Even when healthy, Lowry hasn’t been up to his usual standards this season, averaging just 12.0 PPG while shooting 39.6% from the field and 33.3% from three-point range. Gabe Vincent has been starting at point guard while Lowry is sidelined, and a buyout addition could take over that job for the rest of the season.

Heat Notes: Dedmon, Oladipo, Highsmith, Vincent

Heat reserve big man Dewayne Dedmon spoke to reporters on Saturday for the first time about his recent suspension, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Dedmon was suspended for one game by the team after getting into an argument with coaches on the sidelines and swatting a massage gun onto the court during play.

“I talked with [head coach Erik Spoelstra], talked with [team president Pat Riley], talked with my team, made sure we were all on the same page,” Dedmon said. “And we’re ready to move on from it… Sometimes it gets the best of you. But it’s basketball. We’re all competitors in this locker room, we all want to play and we all want to win. So that’s all that is.”

Chiang notes that Dedmon has lost his rotation spot as Bam Adebayo‘s primary backup as of late to undrafted rookie center Orlando Robinson.

There’s more out of Miami:

  • The role Heat guard Victor Oladipo is playing as a defensive spark plug off the bench is exactly what Spoelstra had wanted the former All-Star to achieve prior to the regular season, per Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel (subscriber-only link). “It’s what we envisioned,” Spoelstra said. “At the start of training camp, that’s the role we slotted for him.”
  • Heat reserve big Haywood Highsmith has performed well with starting power forward Caleb Martin injured, but Winderman notes in a recent mailbag (subscriber exclusive) that he is unsure if Highsmith will earn rotation minutes once everyone is healthy.
  • Spoelstra believes Heat swingman Gabe Vincent has evolved into a solid 3-and-D guard capable of playing either backcourt position this season, Chiang writes in another article. “He has the emotional stability to handle different roles that not every player in this league can accept,” Spoelstra raved. “He can play off the ball, he can play on the ball, he can play as a little bit more a scorer, he can be more of a facilitator if we have our full health. Those kind of guys are so invaluable in this league.” 

Heat Notes: Lowry, Dedmon, Robinson, Vincent

The Heat picked up a win over the Bucks Saturday afternoon in a game that was short on star power for both teams, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. While Milwaukee was without two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, Miami was missing three starters, including Kyle Lowry, who sat out his third straight game due to lingering discomfort in his left knee. Coach Erik Spoelstra wasn’t able to offer much insight into Lowry, who also missed two games because of the knee in December.

“We’re still treating him day to day and continue to be on that protocol until he’s ready,” Spoelstra told reporters.

When healthy, Lowry has remained the Heat’s starting point guard at age 36, but his shooting numbers have dipped significantly this season to 39.8% from the field and 33.6% from three-point range. Lowry has been the subject of trade speculation, but his age and contract, which has another full year remaining at $29.7MM, make it difficult to move him.

There’s more from Miami:

  • Dewayne Dedmon returned from his one-game suspension, but he didn’t see any playing time, Chiang adds. Orlando Robinson continued in the backup center role, as he has for the past week. If he remains in the rotation, the Heat will likely convert him to a standard deal at some point to make him eligible for the playoffs. Dedmon, whose contract is non-guaranteed for next season, faces an uncertain future in Miami and will become trade-eligible on Sunday.
  • Taking Lowry’s place in the starting lineup, Gabe Vincent made 11-of-14 shots today and fell one point short of the career high of 28 he set Thursday. Vincent will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN, but the Heat own his Bird rights and can go over the cap to re-sign him. Miami is unbeaten in Vincent’s four games as a starter, and he’s averaging 20.0 PPG in that role.
  • The Heat are changing the name of FTX Arena to Miami-Dade Arena, the team announced in a press release. Work will begin soon to replace signs and other branding elements at the facility. Miami-Dade County sought the approval of a bankruptcy judge to have FTX’s name removed after the cryptocurrency company collapsed. The new name may be temporary, as the organization seeks a new naming-rights sponsor.

Eastern Notes: VanVleet, Strus, Vincent, Nets

Fred VanVleet has played more off the ball this season and the Raptors guard admits it hasn’t been an easy adjustment, William Lou of Sportsnet tweets. “I’m always willing to do what’s best for the team and it’s something we’ve been trying,” he said. “There’s games where I dominate the ball and we need that, but for the most part I’m in a completely different role than last year.” VanVleet is shooting a career-low 33.5% on 3-point attempts this season. He left Tuesday’s game early with lower back stiffness, Marc Spears of ESPN tweets.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Max Strus made half of his 10 three-point attempts for the Heat on Monday, a sign he may be breaking out of a shooting slump, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes. It was the first time Strus made more than three 3-pointers in a game since Nov. 30. Strus, an unrestricted free agent after this season, shot 24.7% from deep in 11 games prior to Monday’s breakout.
  • Guard Gabe Vincent scored 11 points in 18 minutes on Monday after missing eight consecutive Heat games with tendinosis in his right knee. “It’s hard to not be present,” he told Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “But it’s hard to see something that you can help and not being able to help. I think that applies to every aspect of life, when you feel like you can help a situation but you’re not able to. It’s difficult.” Vincent is also headed to unrestricted free agency after the season.
  • Putting controversies aside and just focusing on the game has keyed the Nets’ nine-game winning streak, Nick Friedell of ESPN writes. “The most important part of today is we’re trying to win this ballgame,” coach Jacque Vaughn said. “When we step into the gym every single day it’s about basketball. How we’re going to take care of each other on the floor, cover for each other on the floor, it’s about basketball.”

Heat Notes: Rotation, Dedmon, Butler, Injuries, Herro

The Heat have been unable to play their full roster this season due to injuries. What could happen if the Heat get at or near full strength?

Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel explores that question. Gabe Vincent, who has seen some playing time as the backup point guard, could be pushed further down the bench. Coach Erik Spoelstra would have to choose between Max Strus and Duncan Robinson as the backup wing and Haywood Highsmith could also be on the rotation bubble.

The Heat could look to deal backup center Dewayne Dedmon and his expiring contract, along with another player, for some immediate help. In that scenario, Orlando Robinson could be a stopgap as the main reserve until Omer Yurtseven is able to return from ankle surgery.

We have more on the Heat:

  • Speaking of absences, Jimmy Butler was scratched from the team’s game against Chicago on Tuesday due to a gastrointestinal illness, the team tweets. It was the 12th game that Butler missed this season.
  • A trio of other players — Kyle Lowry (left knee soreness), Caleb Martin (left ankle sprain) and Vincent (left knee effusion) — were also sidelined. Two-way player Jamal Cain was recalled from the G League to provide depth.
  • Entering the team’s road trip, Tyler Herro was averaging 15.6 points in the nine wins in which he played and 24.2 points in the 10 losses he played. Herro then averaged a team-high 26.3 points during the Heat’s 4-0 road swing. He debunks the notion that the team tends to do better when he scores less, according to Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald. “I think it’s a pointless stat. Because the games we’ve won, I’ve shot the same amount of shots and I just ended up missing them,” he said. “So when shots go in, I’ll have above 20. If I miss, I have below 20. It’s make or miss at the end of the day and I don’t think that stat is credible.”

Eastern Notes: Horford, Young, Heat, Duarte, Brown

Celtics veteran big man Al Horford will rejoin the team on Friday, Jared Weiss of The Athletic tweets. Horford has been away from the C’s for personal reasons following a stint in the league’s health and safety protocols. Horford, who signed a two-year extension at the beginning of the month, hasn’t played since Dec. 4.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Hawks star guard Trae Young has been fined $25K for throwing the game ball into the spectator stands, Adam Zagoria of tweets. The incident occurred at the end of the Hawks’ 123-122 overtime win over the Bulls on Sunday. Young was inactive against Memphis on Monday.
  • The struggles of Max Strus, Gabe Vincent and Duncan Robinson have taken some of the shine off the Heat’s vaunted development program but all is not lost, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel writes. Caleb Martin has developed from a two-way prospect to a steady rotation player and the development program has other potential success stories in Omer Yurtseven, Nikola Jovic and Jamal Cain.
  • Pacers wing Chris Duarte joined the G League’s Fort Wayne Mad Ants for practice on Monday and he’ll play for Fort Wayne against the Wisconsin Herd on Wednesday and Friday, Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files tweets. Duarte is working his way back from a Grade 2 ankle sprain suffered in early November.
  • Pacers rookie forward Kendall Brown is out indefinitely with a stress reaction in his right tibia, according to Dustin Dopirak of the Indianapolis Star. Brown will be reevaluated by the team in two weeks. Brown, a second-round pick, is one of the team’s two-way players. He’s appeared in six games with the Pacers.