Nikola Jovic

Heat Notes: Lowry, D. Robinson, Crowder, Oladipo

Kyle Lowry‘s second season with the Heat isn’t turning out the way he hoped, but the veteran guard doesn’t want to be anywhere else, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Lowry’s shooting percentages have declined since last season, and he’s been involved in fewer offensive possessions than at any time in the past 15 years.

Lowry has posted four single-digit scoring outings in the last two weeks and he hasn’t played at all in the fourth quarter of some close games. He has been mentioned in some recent trade talk, but the market appears limited for a 36-year-old guard with another year left on his contract at $29.7MM.

“I’ve been in trade rumors before,” Lowry said. “I have a very nice contract that can be moved. The organization believes in me and I’m glad to be here. “I want to stay. I enjoy this place. I picked this place. I feel we have a chance to always compete for a title. With Jimmy (Butler), Bam (Adebayo), Tyler (Herro) and (Erik Spoelstra) as a coach we always have an opportunity.”

There’s more on the Heat:

  • Duncan Robinson, who’s recovering from finger surgery, and Nikola Jovic, who’s dealing with a back issue, are both nearing their dates for reevaluation, Chiang notes in a separate story. Both players remained in Miami for the current four-game road trip, along with Omer Yurtseven, who is weeks away from a return after ankle surgery. Spoelstra said he considered bringing Robinson along, but he can get more rehab work done at the team facility. “Duncan was really pushing to get on this trip,” Spoelstra said. “We thought about it, because the fellowship is important. But the work that he’s able to do in our facility consistently trumps that and I think it will speed up the process for them to get to that next step, most of all, which we all want.”
  • Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald teams with Chiang to examine the Heat’s trade assets heading into next week’s deadline. A Western Conference source tells them that Miami still has interest in acquiring Jae Crowder from the Suns, but Phoenix hasn’t been impressed with its offers so far and other teams appear to be in better position to make a deal for Crowder. Robinson has been offered to the Suns, according to Jackson and Chiang, but Miami has shown “no inclination” to put Caleb Martin on the table for Crowder.
  • Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel also evaluates Miami’s trade potential and says the team faces a challenging decision on Victor Oladipo, who has outplayed his current $8.8MM salary and seems likely to turn down his $9.5MM player option for 2023/24.

Several Contenders Pursuing Malik Beasley

Malik Beasley is a popular target heading into this year’s trade deadline, with several contenders expected to make a play for the Jazz guard, writes Sean Deveney of Heavy.

The desire around the league for more shooting, combined with a shortage of sellers, could produce an “overheated” market for Beasley, an Eastern Conference executive tells Deveney. The 26-year-old is averaging 13.7 PPG for Utah while connecting at 39.9% from the field and 35.8% from three-point range. His contract is relatively affordable, with a $16.5MM team option for 2023/24.

“It is a thin market,” the executive said. “You are going to have to overpay because there are not a ton of guys you can go out and get. … A lot of playoff teams are trying to figure out what it is going to take to get him.”

The Jazz are asking for a first-round pick in return for Beasley, along with a young player and whatever it takes to match salaries, according to Deveney, who hears that Utah is willing to take on salary beyond this season if it believes the players if acquires can eventually be moved for another first-rounder.

Deveney cites the Heat as among the top contenders for Beasley, possibly as part of a larger deal that would also bring Kelly Olynyk back to Miami for a package that includes Duncan Robinson and Caleb Martin along with picks and other young players. Miami prefers to hold onto 2022 first-round pick Nikola Jovic, according to Deveney, who believes that stance could change as the deadline nears.

Deveney also mentions the Cavaliers in a rumor first floated last week by Marc Stein. The proposed three-team deal would send Beasley to Cleveland, Caris LeVert‘s expiring contract to the Hawks and John Collins to Utah.

The Bucks and Nets are also interested in Beasley, Deveney adds, but both teams are limited in the draft assets they can offer. Milwaukee doesn’t have a first-round pick to trade until 2029, while Brooklyn would like to deal Seth Curry or Joe Harris for Beasley, but can’t trade a first-rounder until 2028.

The Celtics, who nearly traded for Beasley last season before acquiring Derrick White, probably won’t be involved in the pursuit this year, Deveney states. He expects them to seek a less expensive wing if they’re active in the market at all, possibly offering Danilo Gallinari and Payton Pritchard in return.

Deveney identifies the Pelicans and Warriors as “dark horses” in the Beasley chase, with New Orleans having the combination of draft capital, young players and salary fillers that Utah is seeking, and Golden State able to get involved if management decides to part with either James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga or Moses Moody.

Heat Notes: Trade Targets, Crowder, Collins, Lowry, Oladipo

The Heat are very active on the trade market, Sean Deveney of reports. An obvious area to upgrade would be power forward, with the Hawks’ John Collins a potential target. However, there’s concern within the organization that Collins may not be a great fit alongside Bam Adebayo due to his perimeter shooting issues.

The Suns rejected an offer of Duncan Robinson for Jae Crowder, but Caleb Martin could be substituted for Robinson with center Dewayne Dedmon tossed in to make the salaries work and keep Miami under the luxury tax, Deveney adds.

We have more on the Heat:

  • There are plenty of other potential trade options for a power forward but the Heat may have to include an asset or two they don’t want to give up, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald notes. They’d certainly be willing to move Robinson’s contract and Dedmon. They may also have to add Martin or Nikola Jovic into the package, as well one or two protected first-round picks, to get an impact player at that spot.
  • While a Kyle Lowry trade can’t be ruled out, the Heat aren’t actively looking to move him, Jackson adds in the same story.
  • After hovering around the .500 mark most of the season, the Heat are a season-best four games over .500. Better health has been a factor and Udonis Haslem believes the team can go on a run, he told Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald. “We’ve been right there. So many games coming down to the last shot even with a decimated roster,” the veteran big man said. “So sometimes you got to look within the lesson. The lesson is, I think, once we get healthy, we’re building some good habits and we’ll be able to put something together here. You look at how Boston started their first half of the season last year and it was similar. So if we get healthy, I think we’re still capable of putting something together here.”
  • Considering his past injury issues, Victor Oladipo is surprised he’s logged 30-plus minutes in eight of his last 10 games, he told Chiang. “A little bit, I can’t lie,” Oladipo said of playing extended minutes this season. “But sitting back and really reflecting, you see how much work I put in and how much I invest in my body. So it’s no surprise that I’m still feeling good, and I’m going to continue to keep feeling better as the year goes on.” Oladipo only played 25 minutes in a lopsided win over New Orleans on Wednesday.

Heat’s Nikola Jovic Out At Least One Month With Back Injury

Heat rookie Nikola Jovic has a lower back stress reaction. He will be sidelined four weeks and then will be reevaluated, the Heat’s PR department tweets.

The Serbian forward was the 27th pick in last June’s draft. He has appeared in 15 games this season with the Heat, including eight starts, averaging 5.5 points and 2.1 rebounds in 13.6 minutes per game. He has also appeared in six G League games with the Sioux Falls Skyforce.

It’s a tough setback for Jovic, though he figured to spend more time in the G League as the Heat got healthier.

Jovic is making approximately $2.24MM in his first season and $11.5MM across his four-year rookie deal. The 19-year-old averaged 11.7 points per game last season while playing for Mega Basket in Europe’s ABA League.

Heat Notes: Butler, Jovic, Garrett, Martin

Jimmy Butler has missed 10 games this season due to right knee soreness and injury management and he’s still dealing with it, he told Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “I still got some work to do,” the Heat forward said. “It’s not where it needs to be.”

Butler, who has been medically cleared to play back-to-backs, and the Heat’s staff will continue to monitor the situation. “I can go out there and compete.” he said. “I can’t say that I’m fully healthy. .. The more rest that I have and able to get that recovery that I need is always going to be better.”

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Rookie big man Nikola Jovic has returned to South Florida for further evaluation of a back injury, Winderman reports in the same story. Jovic experienced back soreness after playing Saturday with the Heat’s G League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce.
  • Guard Marcus Garrett has played two games with the Skyforce, Winderman notes. Garrett underwent surgery in October for a right wrist fracture and the Heat subsequently waived him. They may consider bringing him back on a two-way deal depending upon how he performs in the G League.
  • Caleb Martin said after the Monday shootaround that he’s a game-time decision against the Clippers, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald tweets. He has missed the last two games with a quad strain.

Injury Updates: Payne, Shamet, Jovic, Green, Antetokounmpo, Holiday, Middleton, Hill

Suns reserve guards Cameron Payne (right foot strain) and Landry Shamet (sore right Achilles) have seen their statuses updated to probable for Monday’s game against the Knicks, Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic reports (Twitter link). Payne has been unavailable since December 13, while Shamet has been sidelined since Christmas Day.

Long-term, Phoenix is still without All-Star shooting guard Devin Booker (groin strain) and power forwards Cameron Johnson (right meniscus surgery) and Jae Crowder. Crowder has been away from the Suns all season while hoping for a trade.

We have more injury-related news:

  • While getting some run with the Heat‘s G League team, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, rookie Miami power forward Nikola Jovic has been sidelined with back spasms, reports Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel (via Twitter).
  • Mavericks shooting guard Josh Green (sprained right elbow) remains shelved for a Monday matchup against the Rockets, the team announced (Twitter link). The elbow was reportedly reassessed on Friday. Dallas also confirmed that Dorian Finney-Smith (right adductor strain), expected to miss at least another week, and Maxi Kleber (right hamstring surgery), out indefinitely, remain unavailable.
  • The Bucks could be missing their three best players on Sunday night as they square off against the Wizards, reports Josh Robbins of The Athletic (via Twitter). Khris Middleton (sore right knee) and Jrue Holiday (non-coronavirus illness) will miss the contest against Washington, while All-NBA forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (sore left knee) and reserve point guard George Hill (non-coronavirus illness) are both questionable to play.

Southeast Notes: Hawks, Heat, Banchero, Magic, Beal

Hawks point guard Trae Young was ruled out of Wednesday’s game against Brooklyn due to a left calf contusion, per Lauren L. Williams of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link). Starting small forward De’Andre Hunter will also be sidelined for the second straight game with a left ankle sprain.

Young, who is averaging 27.3 PPG, 2.8 RPG and 9.9 APG on .414/.316/.896 shooting through 31 games, was injured in the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s loss to Indiana, which dropped the Hawks to 17-17 on the season.

Here’s more from the Southeast:

  • Heat stars Jimmy Butler (right ankle sprain) and Bam Adebayo (illness) were both out for Monday’s victory over the Wolves, but were back in action for Wednesday’s game against the Lakers, writes Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel (subscriber link). However, point guard Kyle Lowry was ruled out for personal reasons, the first time he’s missed a game with that designation in 2022/23 after missing extended time last season due to personal reasons. Gabe Vincent was moved into the starting lineup in Lowry’s place, Winderman adds.
  • Head coach Erik Spoelstra suggested that backup center Dewayne Dedmon could miss an extended period of time for the Heat as he continues to be hobbled by plantar fasciitis in his left foot, Winderman writes in another subscriber-only story for The Sun Sentinel. “There’s no point in resting him and then if we’re going to be right back to where he is where we’re managing it every single day,” Spoelstra said. “He would like to put it behind you. I don’t know necessarily if he’ll be able to fully put it behind him the way Gabe [Vincent] was with the week or two weeks rest. But our hope is that it will be a lot better than it was.” Still, being down Adebayo and Dedmon on Monday showed the that Heat might have decent depth in the middle, with rookies Nikola Jovic and Orlando Robinson capably filling in, according to Winderman, who notes that Omer Yurtseven shouldn’t be overlooked going forward either, despite being sidelined following ankle surgery.
  • The Magic have won eight of their past 10 games, and No. 1 overall pick Paolo Banchero has played a big part in their recent surge, as Kelly Iko of The Athletic details. The 6’10” forward says he’s hoping for both team and individual success for the rest of ’22/23. “Hopefully we can make the playoffs or the play-in, get there and win Rookie of the Year. That’s my goal,” he said. The Magic currently trail the Raptors by two-and-a-half games for the final spot in the play-in tournament.
  • Wizards guard Bradley Beal, who exited Tuesday’s win over Philadelphia with left hamstring soreness, likely won’t be out for long, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Beal was officially ruled out of Wednesday’s game against Phoenix (Twitter link via Ava Wallace of The Washington Post), but Charania says he is considered day-to-day and could be back for Friday’s contest in Orlando.

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.

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 “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.