Haywood Highsmith

Heat Notes: Adebayo, Highsmith, Strus, Butler

Bam Adebayo is a long shot to start the All-Star Game, but the Heat center is confident that he belongs there, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Adebayo was outside the top 10 among Eastern Conference frontcourt players in the latest round of fan voting, which accounts for 50% of the final total. Coaches will choose the seven reserves in each conference, with the selections being announced February 2.

Adebayo has a strong case for All-Star consideration, averaging career highs with 21.6 points and 10.2 rebounds per game while anchoring Miami’s defense. He dismisses the results from the fans, but believes the coaches understand how good he is.

“I’m going to be (upset) about if they tell me somebody else has played better than me this year considering I’m leading the NBA in paint points and I’m one of the reasons why we’re winning,” Adebayo said. “So for me, it’s just that fan voting is fan voting. I’ll let that be. But when it comes to coaches voting, that’s when I feel like I deserve to be in it.”

There’s more from Miami:

  • Haywood Highsmith earned extended minutes with his performance in Tuesday’s win over the Celtics, Chiang states in a separate story. The third-year small forward has excelled with Jimmy Butler battling injuries, and he put up 15 points and 10 rebounds off the bench against Boston. “H played so well, I just couldn’t take him out of the game,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Those are the kind of things that you want from a head coaching standpoint. Make us play you because you’re playing so hard and you’re making so many things happen.”
  • The Heat weren’t expecting to use Max Strus as a starter this season, but injuries have forced him into that role, Chiang adds. Strus has started 25 of the 47 games he has played, including Tuesday night when Butler was a late scratch. “You could look at it either positively or negatively,” Spoelstra said. “That’s why I tell him, ‘Isn’t this what you’ve always wanted? To come in there and play a big role whether you’re coming off the bench or starting. What else could you want?’ I think that’s great to be able to plug and play in a lot of different roles.”
  • The lower back tightness that prevented Butler from playing against the Celtics occurred during pre-game warmups, tweets Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel.

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 To Guarantee Haywood Highsmith’s Salary

The Heat are guaranteeing the remainder of Haywood Highsmith‘s salary for 2022/23, tweets Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press.

Highsmith went undrafted in 2018 out of Wheeling University, a Division II school. Now in his third season, the 26-year-old has bounced between the NBA and the G League over the past five years, but appears to have found a nice niche with Miami.

His stats definitely don’t stand out — he’s averaging 4.3 PPG, 3.7 RPG and 1.0 SPG on .383/.310/.375 shooting (only 16 free throw attempts, so a very small sample size) through 27 games (19.5 MPG). However, Highsmith is a strong and versatile defensive player, as head coach Erik Spoelstra noted a couple weeks ago.

The combo forward only had a $50K partial guarantee entering the preseason, but that increased to $400K when he made the Heat’s regular season roster. He signed a three-year, minimum-salary deal with Miami last March, and his salary for next season is non-guaranteed.

Heat Notes: Highsmith, Injuries, Lowry, Robinson, Offense

Can Haywood Highsmith secure a regular rotation role even when the Heat are fully healthy? Anthony Chiang explores that topic in an article for The Miami Herald.

Highsmith rarely saw the court in his first two seasons, playing just 203 total minutes over 24 games with the Sixers and Heat. He has already more than doubled that total thus far in 2022/23, appearing in 21 contests (20.0 minutes per night) for a total of 420 minutes.

Down three starters in Tuesday’s loss to Chicago, the Heat leaned heavily on Highsmith, and he responded with career highs in points (18), field goals made (seven), threes made (four), and steals (four), Chiang notes. The Heat like Highsmith’s defensive versatility, and he’s limited opponents to just 37.6% shooting from the field, according to Chiang, who cites data from NBA.com.

He’s been playing well,” head coach Erik Spoelstra said this week of Highsmith. “It has nothing to do with whether he’s making shots. That’s when everybody else will notice. But he’s played really well for the last five or six weeks and he’s been very impactful defensively. He’s playing his role offensively. And he’s pretty good on the baseline. He’s good at getting guys open shots on triggers. And he’s really working diligently on his shooting, so that’s going to improve. But defensively, he’s a presence for sure.”

As Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel tweets, everyone on the Heat’s roster except for Omer Yurtseven could be available on Friday night against Indiana, with several players warming up with the intention of playing. So we could see tonight whether Highsmith will play with the lineup nearly whole.

The 26-year-old has a non-guaranteed contract, so the Heat will have to decide whether they want to keep him around by January 7, the last day for teams to waive non-guaranteed deals before they become guaranteed for the rest of the season. Based on Spoelstra’s quote, it sounds like Highsmith has a good shot at sticking with Miami and earning his full $1.75MM salary.

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • Point guard Kyle Lowry missed Miami’s last three games with left knee soreness, but he’ll be available Friday night, per Chiang (Twitter link). A six-time All-Star with the Raptors, Lowry is averaging 14.0 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 5.9 APG and 1.1 SPG on .401/.353/.853 shooting through 28 games (36.1 MPG) in his second season with the Heat.
  • In a subscriber-only article for The Miami Herald, Chiang writes that swingman Duncan Robinson is still adjusting to life off the bench after primarily being a starter from 2019-22. “It’s a challenge,” Robinson said of his new role. “I don’t think it’s like something I can’t overcome. It’s just about continuing to wrap your head around that it’s going to be different things on different days, and I’m starting to get to that point.” Robinson (799) is just eight three-pointers away from breaking the Heat’s franchise record for threes made, which is currently held by Tim Hardaway Sr. (806), Chiang adds.
  • The 16-16 Heat entered Friday’s game ranked just 26th in the NBA in offense, but Spoelstra is confident that figure will rise with a healthy lineup, Winderman writes for The South Florida Sun Sentinel. “When we start getting guys back together, I think there’s going to be a great balance between our rim pressure, paint pressure and our 3-point shooting,” Spoelstra said. “When we have guys out, it’s just by any means necessary. And if other teams know that we’re just kind of tapping into one specific part of the menu, it becomes a little bit easier to defend.”

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.”

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

Heat guard Victor Oladipo has been upgraded to questionable for Tuesday’s game against Detroit, says Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald, noting that it’s the first time Oladipo has received that designation this season. The former All-Star has yet to appear in a game this fall due to left knee tendinosis, but it sounds like his debut is imminent.

If Oladipo is able to play on Tuesday, it would help the Heat make up for some other veteran absences. As Chiang writes, Jimmy Butler, who recently missed seven games due to a knee injury, has been ruled out for the second night of a back-to-back set as the club attempts to manage his workload.

A handful of players have also been listed as questionable, including Kyle Lowry due to left ankle discomfort, per Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel (Twitter link). Lowry is the only Heat player who has yet to miss a game this season, but that streak appears to be in jeopardy.

Here’s more out of Miami:

  • Heat rookie Nikola Jovic didn’t shoot the ball well in his first game with the Sioux Falls Skyforce on Sunday, making just 3-of-12 shots from the field. But he appreciated the opportunity to play big minutes and wouldn’t object to another G League assignment, as Chiang relays for The Miami Herald. “It helps me a lot with my feel for the game,” Jovic said. “I can try to do things more than with the Heat because the ball is in my hands in Sioux Falls and it’s sometimes on me to work and try to get a shot. But when I’m with the Heat, I’m doing the same thing but it’s not on me to be that guy right now. I don’t know yet, but I think I’ll probably go back (to Sioux Falls) again and I think it’s a great thing for me.”
  • Asked to play power forward this season following P.J. Tucker‘s departure, Caleb Martin has expanded his game for the Heat, per Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Meanwhile, in his Miami Herald mailbag, Chiang wonders whether Martin’s skill set is being maximized in his current role.
  • Heat forward Haywood Highsmith didn’t initially realize that he had increased the partial guarantee on his contract to $700K last week, according to Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. “I’m not going to lie. I didn’t realize it at all,” he said. “… I forgot. I thought it was in January. I should know those dates.” The rest of Highsmith’s $1.75MM salary for 2022/23 will become guaranteed if he remains under contract through January 7.

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.

Southeast Notes: Highsmith, Butler, W. Carter, Wizards

It has been a good week for Heat forward Haywood Highsmith so far. He had his best game of the season on Wednesday in Boston, matching a career high with 16 points while chipping in eight rebounds, a pair of blocks, and a career-best four 3-pointers.

Additionally, by remaining on the Heat’s roster through Thursday, Highsmith saw his partial guarantee increase to $700K, tweets Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. Highsmith, whose full salary for the 2022/23 season is $1,752,638, will have that entire amount guaranteed if he’s not waived on or before January 7.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • With Jimmy Butler – upgraded to questionable for Friday’s game – on the verge of making his return for the Heat following a seven-game absence, head coach Erik Spoelstra remains confident that better days are ahead for the sub-.500 club, writes Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. “Even on that (Nov. 16-21) road trip, when we were 0-4, we showed incredible resiliency,” Spoelstra said. “And that’s when I started to think, ‘Alright, we’ve got something here, we do.’ Our record may be this, but we’re developing some requisite toughness, some collective grit, some collective resiliency to be able to deal with runs and deal with crowds, deal with all that kind of stuff.”
  • Magic center Wendell Carter Jr., who has been out since November 18 due to a right plantar fascia strain, told Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel on Wednesday that he hopes to return in a week or two. Price cautions that Carter’s timeline remains fluid and will ultimately depend on how the foot responds to treatment.
  • Billionaire Jeffrey Skoll is buying into Monumental Sports & Entertainment, the parent company of the Wizards and other D.C.-area sports franchises, per Scott Soshnick and Eben Novy-Williams of Sportico (subscription required). Skoll, who was the first president of eBay and has an estimated worth of $5.6 billion, will become a minority stakeholder in Ted Leonsis‘ parent company, which also controls the NHL’s Washington Capitals and the WNBA’s Washington Mystics.

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.