Cole Swider

Heat Notes: D. Robinson, Highsmith, Wright, Jaquez, Swider, Butler

Duncan Robinson, one of several Heat players affected by health issues this season, said on Friday that – based on the medical feedback he has received – he has no reason to believe that his back issue will “linger or last,” per Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Robinson missed nine of the team’s final 14 regular season games due to the injury and played a limited role in the postseason.

The Heat were among the teams most affected by injuries for a second straight season in 2023/24, setting a new franchise record by using 35 different starting lineups. Speaking to reporters on Friday, head coach Erik Spoelstra said the team will do its homework this offseason to see if anything can be done to reduce its players’ injury risk going forward.

“We’re going to look at everything,” Spoelstra said, according to Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. “Because it’s not all apples to apples. I think what we do in terms of getting guys ready and in shape helps with soft tissue stuff. It’s the other stuff that we have to take a dive into. Two seasons ago, we were good. The last two seasons are a little bit skewed based on guys that missed the entire season that weren’t fully in our rotation. But that doesn’t also absolve it. We want to look at all the different angles on this.”

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • During their end-of-season media sessions on Friday, unrestricted free agents Haywood Highsmith and Delon Wright both expressed a desire to re-sign with Miami, according to Jackson and Chiang. “Definitely want to stay in Miami. My family lives here, my daughter lives here. That’s a priority to be around my daughter a lot,” Highsmith said, adding that he appreciates the Heat for being “all about winning” and feeling like a family. Highsmith has been with the team since 2021, whereas Wright just arrived in February, but the veteran guard has enjoyed his experience in Miami. “I definitely would like to come back,” Wright said. “I felt like I got a snippet of what it could be. With a full training camp, I will have a better understanding of what Spo wants out of me.”
  • Jaime Jaquez said on Friday that he doesn’t plan to play for Mexico in this summer’s Olympic qualifying tournament, per Jackson and Chiang. The Mexican national team will be in Puerto Rico vying for one of the four remaining spots in the men’s basketball tournament at the Paris Olympics.
  • Cole Swider‘s two-way contract is expiring, but the Heat have let him know they want to keep him around and he intends to be part of Miami’s Summer League team, he told reporters on Friday. “The Heat, a lot of these undrafted guys, did a great job developing them,” Swider said, according to the Herald. “I hope to be one of their success stories. I know they know what they’re doing. “I’ve improved defensively, learning the concepts of the Heat, how we play. I’ve proved I can play in the NBA.”
  • Dave Hyde of The South Florida Sun Sentinel advises the Heat against extending Jimmy Butler this offseason, suggesting that the cost would be too great for a player entering his late-30s when the extension would begin. Butler’s contract situation will be worth watching — in separate stories for The Athletic today, both David Aldridge and John Hollinger alluded to whispers that the 34-year-old’s long-term future may not be in Miami.
  • Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel takes a player-by-player look at the Heat’s roster, assessing what’s next for everyone who finished this season under contract with the club.

Heat Notes: Robinson, Herro, Jovic, Highsmith, Martin, Swider

If the Heat manage to reach the playoffs, they may head into the postseason with at least one starting position unsettled, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. It’s not clear who would start at shooting guard, especially if Duncan Robinson returns from his back issues before Tyler Herro recovers from his foot injury.

Jackson notes that lineups with Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Robinson have fared better than those with Butler, Adebayo and Herro, but only slightly. Both Robinson and Herro provide floor spacing, which has been missing from Miami’s offense during their absence.

“You can’t replace a guy like Duncan who shoots from anywhere, and Tyler, who creates his own shot, and the leadership of (Kevin Love),” Adebayo said.

The Heat have tried several options this season at power forward, although Jackson points out that Nikola Jovic has started the last 14 games when he’s been available. However, Haywood Highsmith has been more productive with Butler and Adebayo, and Caleb Martin has also seen significant minutes alongside the two stars. Coach Erik Spoelstra seems to be committed to using Jovic as the starter because of the overall effect he has on the offense.

“The one thing I do know is they both have great skill levels,” Spoelstra said. “And it’s almost inverted with us, when two bigs can handle. They both can pass. They both can make plays. They can both finish at the rim. And they both feel very comfortable just being facilitators.”

There’s more from Miami:

  • Robinson has been ruled out for Sunday’s game with Cleveland, but his back is feeling much better, Jackson states in a separate story. Robinson got a positive report from a back specialist after being sent home early from a road trip on Monday. “Thankful it’s not too serious,” he said. “Big thing is making sure [to] calm it down. It’s flared up right now. I’m trying to play as soon as I possibly can. Itching to be back out there. As soon as I get the clear and OK, I’ll be back out there. Taking a couple days helps a lot. The recovery and treatment has helped as well as other things.”
  • Friday’s game with the Pelicans was much calmer than the teams’ February meeting, which resulted in four ejections and five suspensions, Jackson adds. Spoelstra said before the game that he didn’t expect any bad feelings from the scuffle to carry over. “It’s all behind us,” he said. “This was nothing compared to the ’90s.”
  • Making his 12th appearance of the season on Friday night, two-way small forward Cole Swider went 4-of-6 from three-point range and scored 14 points in 18 minutes. Earlier this week, he told Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel that he’s ready to help fill the need for outside shooting. “This is what a two-way is for, is for moments like this when Duncan’s out, Tyler’s out,” Swider said.

Heat Notes: Mills, D. Robinson, Jovic, Butler

The Heat used their 33rd different starting lineup in Wednesday night’s victory at Cleveland, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Veteran guard Patty Mills, who signed with the team two weeks ago, made his first start of the season and scored 10 points in 25 minutes. Chiang notes that Mills filled the floor-spacing role normally held by Duncan Robinson, who was sidelined by discomfort in his back.

Miami set a franchise record Sunday in Detroit with its 32nd different starting lineup, as coach Erik Spoelstra has been navigating a series of injuries since the season began. Center Thomas Bryant also started Wednesday, replacing Bam Adebayo, who is dealing with a lower back contusion.

Chiang points out that two-way players Cole Swider and Alondes Williams are the only members of the current roster who haven’t made at least one start this season.

There’s more on the Heat:

  • Robinson returned to Miami on Tuesday to visit a back specialist, Chiang states in a separate story. Spoelstra said Robinson is considered day-to-day, but Chiang notes that his status could change depending on the results of his exam. “He wasn’t going to be able to play today,” Spoelstra said. “So we might as well just get him checked out there and start that process with [Heat senior director of rehabilitation] Jeff Ruiz and try to get him back as quick as we can. “He’ll get a scan just to make sure we know what it is. He’ll work with Jeff, start that process right now and we’ll see where he is.” Robinson has been a constant for the injury-riddled Heat, appearing in 63 of the team’s first 68 games. Chiang suggests that Swider, who has only played 55 minutes all season, could see an expanded role with Robinson and some of the team’s other outside shooters injured.
  • Nikola Jovic was back in the starting lineup after missing two games with a strained right hamstring, Chiang adds. “I’m feeling a lot better,” Jovic said. “I went through a little practice yesterday and now the shootaround, and it feels a lot better.”
  • Jimmy Butler also returned after sitting out the past two games with a right foot contusion. It was just the 48th game of the season for Butler, but Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel says the Heat have proven they can be successful with that formula as long as he’s healthy for the playoffs.

Heat Notes: Butler, Two-Way Players, Richardson

After losing seven games in a row for the first time since 2008, the Heat‘s coaches and players centered a plan around Jimmy Butler to save the team’s season, writes the Miami Herald’s Anthony Chiang. Butler upped the ante on his aggression, and he’s now scored 24 or more points four times in a row for the first time this season.

He’s averaging 27.3 points, 8.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.5 steals during this stretch and — as also noted by Ira Winderman of South Florida’s Sun Sentinel — is getting 10.3 free throw attempts per game.

When he does that, when he really gets himself going, gets in attack mode, whether he’s shooting the ball or getting to the free throw line or setting up other players, that’s when we’re at our best,” Heat forward Kevin Love said.

Forty-one of Butler’s last 56 shots have come from inside the paint and he’s shooting 72.7% from the restricted area, according to Chiang.

He’s been more aggressive than he was in the beginning of the season,” center Bam Adebayo said. “We know what that man can do when he’s tapped in and is locked in. I feel like he’s starting to get his groove.

The Heat have won back-to-back games behind Butler’s aggressiveness.

We have more Heat notes:

  • Responding to NBA analyst Kendrick Perkins, who suggested Butler and the Heat should part ways, Butler’s agent Bernard Lee pushed back strongly against that notion on Twitter. “Put simply he’s never going anywhere.. EVER,” Lee tweeted. “He’s going to win a championship in Miami.” Butler and the Heat are 26-23 entering Saturday, good for seventh in the Eastern Conference and half a game back of the Pacers for sixth.
  • Because the Heat only have 14 players on standard contracts, their players on two-way contracts are limited to a total of 90 NBA appearances. If they were carrying 15 standard players, their two-way players would be eligible to be active for 50 games each. The clock is currently ticking for Miami’s trio of Jamal Cain, R.J. Hampton and Cole Swider, who only have 25 games left between them if the team doesn’t add a 15th man, Winderman observes. Games in which players are active but don’t play count against their limit “It’s tough, because you mentally prepare like you’re ready to play,” Cain said of being active on a game night and not playing. “When your number is not called, of course it’s going to take a mental, emotional toll on you. But that’s the beauty of the game, because you’re still getting those mental reps on those games when you’re active, as part of it.
  • Guard Josh Richardson was out of the rotation when the Heat played the Knicks last week. “I mean, it’s never easy,” Richardson said of being benched, per Winderman. “It’s hard. We got a lot of guys that can play, contribute, so I really had to go home and like think, like figure it out, like, ‘What do I have to do better to get minutes?’ And, ‘How can I help the team win games?’” Then, after Duncan Robinson suffered a concussion, he was right back in the following game. Richardson impressed in his subsequent outings, highlighted by a 24-point performance against the Kings to snap Miami’s losing streak.

NBA G League Announces Up Next Participants

A pool of 28 players has been selected for the NBA G League’s Up Next Game at All-Star Weekend in Indianapolis, the NBAGL announced in a press release.

According to the release, the event features “four teams of seven players competing in two semifinal games. The winner of each semifinal will face off in a Championship game.

“The teams will be made up of 28 NBA G League players, including 10 selected by a fan vote. The remaining 18 players will be selected by the NBA G League and will include eight members of NBA G League Ignite and at least one member of the Indiana Mad Ants, the G League affiliate of the All-Star hosting Indiana Pacers. Each team will be coached by a head coach from the NBA G League.”

Players marked with an asterisk (*) are on two-way contracts.

Fan vote:

Former Kentucky guard Hagans received the most votes.

NBAGL selections:

G League Ignite:

They aren’t currently on NBA teams, but it’s worth noting that Labissiere and Bazley are ineligible for two-way deals because they each hold four years of NBA experience. Weatherspoon (three years), Hagans (one) and Williams (one) also hold at least some NBA experience.

Southeast Notes: Murray, Love, Butler, Swider, Fultz

Before Immanuel Quickley was traded to Toronto, the Hawks discussed a deal that would have sent Dejounte Murray to the Knicks in exchange for Quickley and a first-round pick, according to Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times. Woike references the trade talks as part of a look at what the Lakers might do ahead of the February 8 deadline. L.A. has been mentioned as a possible suitor for Murray, who is considered likely to be dealt soon.

Woike expects the Hawks to ask for Austin Reaves in any deal with the Lakers involving Murray. He adds that if the cost is a first-round pick and a young player capable of contributing right away — which is what Atlanta asked from New York — then it’s hard to picture L.A. meeting it without parting with Reaves. However, sources tell Woike that the Lakers’ front office hasn’t included Reaves in any trade discussions.

Second-year guard Max Christie has moved into the rotation, but Woike notes that his value is lessened because he’s headed toward restricted free agent this summer. Woike identifies the Lakers’ 2029 first-round pick as their greatest trade asset, but he’s not sure if the team would give it up without at least some light protection.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Kevin Love is the latest addition to the Heat‘s injury list, according to Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. After playing 16 minutes Friday night, the veteran big man is listed as questionable for Sunday’s matchup with Charlotte because of a left knee contusion. Jimmy Butler is doubtful with a joint sprain in his right toe, meaning he’ll likely miss his seventh straight game, but Chiang says there’s hope he might be able to return Monday at Brooklyn.
  • Travel issues will prevent Cole Swider from joining the Heat for Sunday’s game, tweets Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. Swider was sent to Miami’s G League affiliate in Sioux Falls earlier this week and is stuck because of severe weather in the Midwest. He’s expected to join the team in Brooklyn for Monday’s contest.
  • The Magic aren’t using Markelle Fultz in back-to-back games while he works his way back from tendinitis in his left knee, tweets Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel.

Heat Notes: Jaquez, Smith, Two-Way Players, Tournament

The Heat look like one of the East’s best teams despite a string of early-season injuries, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Miami has won nine of its last 10 games, including a 33-point victory Wednesday in Cleveland without three rotation players. Tyler Herro continues to recover from his sprained right ankle, while Bam Adebayo sat out the contest with a left hip contusion and Kevin Love didn’t make the trip for personal reasons.

The Heat responded with eight players reaching double figures in points, led by veteran guard Kyle Lowry with 28 and rookie forward Jaime Jaquez with 22. It’s the latest in a series of impressive performances by Jaquez, who has quickly embraced the “Heat Culture” philosophy.

“It’s like a next-man-up mentality,” Jaquez said. “We have a soldier go down, we got one to fill their place and do what we can to win. I thought we shared the ball really well tonight, had a lot of great shots and it showed. Our defense was incredible. Really pressured the ball, got a lot of steals and got out in transition.”

There’s more on the Heat:

  • Coach Erik Spoelstra believes an unusual feature of Cleveland’s court caused backup point guard Dru Smith to suffer a right knee injury that forced him out of Wednesday’s game, per Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Smith had an awkward fall along the sidelines in an area that has a dropoff for fans at courtside. “It is a dangerous floor,” Spoelstra said. “It’s an accident waiting to happen. You close out and all of a sudden you’re going off a cliff. If the court was normal, there wouldn’t have been any kind of incident.” Smith will have a scan conducted on the knee while the team is in New York.
  • A prolonged absence for Smith could lead to a roster move, Jackson adds. The Heat are low on guards, and Jackson believes they may consider either temporarily filling the open 15th roster spot or adding someone on a two-way deal. He sees two-way players Jamal Cain and Cole Swider as safe, but suggests the team might consider replacing R.J. Hampton.
  • Point differential could come into play as Miami tries to advance in the in-season tournament, and Spoelstra said the Heat will “treat that appropriately” if it becomes necessary, according to Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Miami is off to a 2-0 start in Group B, and a win Friday over the Knicks could set up a showdown with Milwaukee next week with both teams undefeated. Spoelstra is a fan of the tournament and says the financial incentive, with each player getting $50K for reaching the quarterfinals, has been a strong motivator. “I think it’s good for the league,” he said. “I think it’s good for the teams, the players. It keeps things interesting. Anything that sparks competition, I think is a great thing. And it sure would be a lot of fun to be able to get two more wins and get to the quarterfinals. Ultimately, every competitor in this league, whatever they think or say, you would want to be in Vegas to play for this.”

Heat Notes: Jovic, Love, Jaquez, Swider

The Heat still believe in Nikola Jovic, a first-round pick in 2022, but his playing time hasn’t increased so far in his second NBA season, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Even with a rash of early-season injuries, Jovic has barely gotten off Miami’s bench, logging 28 total minutes in two games.

“There’s always someone – I hope nobody gets injured – but some players rest and stuff,” Jovic said. “So there will be certain times where I’ll probably be able to play. But the fact is that in the normal rotation, I’m not in it. It’s just on me to continue to work. These guys do a great job of developing players, and I think I’ve developed a lot since last year and I think I’ll be even better this year. My chances will come and I hope I’m going to be play good when it comes.”

With Tyler Herro and Caleb Martin both injured and Jimmy Butler sitting out for personal reasons, Saturday’s game in Atlanta could have been an opportunity for coach Erik Spoelstra to turn to Jovic. Instead, his bench rotation consisted of Josh Richardson, Kevin Love, Dru Smith and Jamal Cain.

Spoelstra noted that Jovic was unavailable over the past week due to illness and indicated that he will eventually get a chance to play.

“He’s had a really productive five months this offseason and the preseason and training camp,” Spoelstra said. “You can see that he’s grown. He’s a much different player than last year and that’s a credit to the work that he’s put in. Starting last year during the playoff run when nobody was paying attention. He was really working on preparing his body and conditioning and everything for the summer ahead.”

There’s more on the Heat:

  • Love was back on the court Saturday, playing for the first time since being removed from the starting lineup three games ago, Chiang adds in a separate story. Love entered the game when Bam Adebayo came out, replacing Thomas Bryant as the primary backup center for at least one night. Chiang notes that Miami has been outscored by 14.6 points per 100 possessions with Bryant on the court, and Spoelstra suggested that rotations could change from game to game with Herro and Butler sidelined.
  • Rookie guard Jaime Jaquez made his second straight start and served as the team’s primary ball-handler for stretches of the game, Chiang adds. He finished with career highs of 20 points and 39 minutes played. “I keep saying he’s not a normal rookie,” Adebayo said. “At some point, somebody is going to believe me because he keeps on putting performances like this.”
  • In another piece for the Herald, Cole Swider tells Chiang that he was prepared for a call-up from the G League after hearing about Herro’s injury. The two-way small forward was assigned to Miami’s affiliate in Sioux Falls on Tuesday, but was back with the NBA team for Saturday’s game.

Heat Promote Dru Smith To Standard Contract, Convert Cole Swider To Two-Way

The Heat have signed guard Dru Smith to a multi-year standard NBA contract and converted sharpshooting forward Cole Swider to a two-way deal, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

In a subsequent move, the team waived both forward Cheick Diallo and wing Justin Champagnie, who were both on Exhibit 10 contracts.

Smith, 25, has been in the Heat’s developmental system since signing a training camp deal in 2021. He spent that year playing with Miami’s G League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, before once again signing a camp deal with the Heat in 2022. At the conclusion of 2022’s training camp, Smith signed a two-way contract with the team.

At the beginning of the 2022/23 season, the Heat alternated between Orlando Robinson and Smith on two-way deals, with Jamal Cain on the other, swapping the pair out a handful of times. Smith then wound up signing with the Nets on a two-way before rejoining Miami this free agency period. He holds career averages of 2.9 points and 1.5 assists in 15 career NBA games.

Now, Smith is rewarded with a multi-year standard contract which has a $425K opening-night guarantee, according to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press (Twitter link). It’s a similar structure to the contract Robinson wound up getting from Miami, with a July trigger date in its second year, tweets HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto. The Heat were only able to sign Smith to a minimum-salary deal due to their proximity to the tax aprons.

Smith had a solid preseason, averaging 6.5 points and 5.3 assists in four games. Head coach Erik Spoelstra praised his during training camp and the Heat appreciated his ability to run the floor, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald (Twitter link). Smith and Kyle Lowry are the only true point guards on Miami’s roster.

It’s interesting to see Miami opt for Smith over Cain for the 14th roster spot, which he had been hoping to get, according to Jackson. Cain averaged 11.3 points and 8.3 rebounds in four preseason games. However, as Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald (Twitter link) observes, keeping Cain on a two-way may make it easier for the Heat to keep him in their system going forward because they may opt to switch out the 14th roster spot during the season.

Swider is another player who earned plenty of buzz during training camp and the preseason. He opened the preseason with a 17-point performance while knocking down five three-pointers. Swider, who spent last season on a two-way deal with the Lakers before being waived this summer, averaged 11.2 points and knocked down 37.1% of his three-pointers (7.0 attempts) across five appearances in the preseason. The 6’9″ forward shot 43.6% from deep in 27 regular season G League games last year.

Swider is hoping to follow in Heat sharpshooter Duncan Robinson‘s footsteps by being frontcourt shooter who enjoys a successful career with Miami. The Syracuse product joins Cain and R.J. Hampton as the team’s two-way players.

As for the Heat’s camp players, Diallo played sparingly in the preseason, averaging 2.7 rebounds in 6.9 minutes. Champagnie played much more, averaging 7.5 points in 22.1 minutes, positioning himself well in the camp battle. Even though both players are being waived, the Heat likely hope to funnel both to the Skyforce, where they’d be eligible for a bonus worth up to $75K if they are there for 60 or more days. Champagnie played with the Skyforce last season and Miami could revisit him in the future, like they did with Smith.

With the series of moves, the Heat’s opening night roster appears set, though there’s still time for them to cycle through moree Exhibit 10 signings. Miami has 14 players on standard deals and three players on two-way contracts. The club will keep the 15th spot on the roster open for now due to its proximity to the tax.

Heat Notes: Adebayo, Sioux Falls, Richardson, Highsmith, Roster Decisions

Bam Adebayo is eligible to sign a two-year, $97MM extension until Monday. However, the Heat center realizes he could get a longer and more lucrative contract if he waits, he told Barry Jackson and Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald.

Adebayo could meet the super-max criteria and become eligible to sign a four-year, $245MM extension in the 2024 offseason if he makes an All-NBA team or is named Defensive Player of the Year this season.

“The money difference does play a part,” he said. “But we’ll have that conversation at some point.”

We have more on the Heat:

  • Despite the logistics of shuttling players from Point A to B, the Heat announced a five-year agreement to keep their NBA G League affiliate in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, according to Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel (Twitter link). It’s approximately 1,824 miles between the two cities.
  • Foot injuries continue to mar Josh Richardson‘s preseason. He departed Wednesday’s preseason loss with a right foot injury and was underwent an MRI on his foot on Thursday, according to Chiang. The MRI results were negative and he’s day-to-day. He sat out the Heat’s second and third preseason games due to left foot discomfort.
  • An MRI on Haywood Highsmith‘s left knee revealed a sprain and he’ll be reevaluated in two weeks, Chiang tweets. He recently had his $1.9MM salary guaranteed.
  • There are six players on the Heat’s current 19-man camp roster competing for the 14th spot on the standard roster and the three two-way contract slots. Out of that group, Jamal Cain, Dru Smith and Cole Swider have stood out, according to Chiang. Cain and Smith are already on two-way deals and looking to get a promotion to the standard roster. “It’s just gratifying to see that kind of improvement from a young player, particularly when it’s not easy,” coach Erik Spoelstra said of Cain.