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.”