Orlando Robinson

Heat Notes: Mills, Herro, Love, Schedule, Martin

Patty Mills‘ debut with the Heat on Friday night looked familiar to coach Erik Spoelstra, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Mills provided the jolt of instant offense that Miami was looking for, coming off the bench to score 13 points in 16 minutes while shooting 5-of-7 from the field and 3-of-4 from beyond the arc. It was similar to the performances he used to deliver for the Spurs when they faced Miami in the 2013 and 2014 NBA Finals.

“That was great to see him finally do it in a Heat uniform instead of against us,” Spoelstra said. “We’ve seen that for too many years. You can see why he’s been able to do what he does. He’s ignitable, he’s smart, he’s been in a lot of very good systems so he knows how to fit even though he hasn’t had a practice.”

Mills matched his highest-scoring game of the season, as he was seeing limited playing time with Atlanta before being waived last week. There’s no guarantee that Mills will get regular minutes with the Heat once the roster is healthier, but his new teammates are aware of how he can help them.

“We all know what he can do,” Jimmy Butler said. “We all know what he’s going to bring to this team. I think that he’s a winner. He knows how to play the game of basketball. He has a very, very, very high IQ and he just wants to help in any way that he can.”

There’s more from Miami:

  • Tyler Herro and Kevin Love have already been ruled out for Sunday’s game against Washington, Chiang adds. Herro will sit out his eighth straight game with medial tendinitis in his right foot, while Love will miss his sixth in a row due to a bruised right heel. Chiang notes that Spoelstra has typically alternated between Orlando Robinson and Thomas Bryant at backup center when Love is unavailable, but neither of them played Friday in Oklahoma City as those minutes went to Nikola Jovic.
  • Heat players are cautioning against a letdown as they enter a soft spot in the schedule, Chiang states in a separate story. Locked in a tight race to avoid the play-in tournament, Miami will face 10-win teams in three of its next four games, hosting the Wizards tomorrow and traveling to Detroit for games on March 15 and 17. “Like every other game, with a sense of urgency,” Bam Adebayo responded when asked about the team’s approach. “So for us, it’s just having that same sense of urgency as if we were playing anybody else.”
  • Caleb Martin will likely need surgery this summer for a sprained thumb on his non-shooting hand, but he tells Chiang that he’ll continue to play through the pain for the rest of the season.

Heat Notes: Butler, Dragic, Highsmith, O. Robinson, D. Robinson

Heat star forward Jimmy Butler will sit out for the eighth time in nine games when Miami faces Houston on Monday, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports.

Butler was initially sidelined with a strained left calf. He suffered an toe sprain on his right foot when he tried to return on Dec. 30.

Butler is inching closer toward being ineligible for postseason awards. He’ll miss his 12th game on Monday and players must take the court in at least 65 games to stay eligible.

We have more on the Heat:

  • Goran Dragic, who announced his retirement, revealed he had discussions regarding a possible reunion with the Heat, Winderman relays. “The only (NBA) option was Miami, with whom I was in talks,” Dragic told a Slovenia media outlet. “In the end, it didn’t work out because they have too many players under contract.” Dragic had opportunities to play in Europe but declined for family reasons. “I never wanted to go back to Europe. I wouldn’t want to be without my children living in the U.S. for a year,” he said.
  • In a positive development, Haywood Highsmith is expected to be available on Monday, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald tweets. He’s cleared the league’s concussion protocol after missing three games.
  • Orlando Robinson erupted for 41 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks for the team’s G League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, on Friday, Chiang notes. Robinson had his $1.8MM salary for this season guaranteed when he remained on the Heat’s roster beyond Sunday afternoon’s deadline.
  • Duncan Robinson is enjoying a bounce-back season, averaging a career-high 14.2 points and 3.1 assists per game. He told Mark Medina of Sportskeeda that his offseason preparation set him up for success. “For me, it’s about increased opportunity and the culmination of a lot of reps and work this offseason,” he said. “I was being deliberate with how I wanted to improve. I think a big thing also has been my mindset shift with being more aggressive.”

Injury Notes: Brown, Doncic, Payton, Vincent, Nance, Heat

Celtics wing Jaylen Brown has been ruled out of Thursday’s game against Detroit due to a lower back contusion, per Jared Weiss of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Brown sustained the injury on Monday against the Lakers after being accidentally kneed in the back by LeBron James. Both players were down in pain for a few minutes, but were able to return later in the contest.

Brown, who signed a five-year, super-max extension in the offseason, is averaging 22.6 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 3.6 APG and 1.1 SPG on .478/.335/.734 shooting in 28 games (33.8 MPG) this season for Boston.

Here are some more injury notes from around the NBA:

  • The Mavericks will be without Luka Doncic for Thursday’s game in Minnesota, as first reported by Marc Stein (via Twitter). Doncic is dealing with left quad soreness. As Stein notes, it’s the second game of a back-to-back for Dallas, which lost to Cleveland on Wednesday.
  • Warriors swingman Gary Payton II practiced on Wednesday, according to Jon Schultz of The San Francisco Chronicle. “He had a lot of energy today,” Trayce Jackson-Davis said of Payton. “Had a great practice, and we need them out there. Obviously our guard depth is a little shallow right now, and just having another defensive two-way guard on the floor is going to help us a lot.” However, Payton has been ruled out of Thursday’s contest vs. Miami, per the league’s official injury report. It will be the 13th consecutive absence for Payton, who has been battling a right calf strain.
  • Lakers guard Gabe Vincent underwent successful arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Wednesday and will be reevaluated in about eight weeks, writes Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Jarred Vanderbilt is one of the players who will receive more minutes with Vincent out, Turner adds. “It obviously hurt. He’s a big component of what we do,” Vanderbilt said of Vincent. “Great player, great system player. So, obviously health comes first. So, we want him to get healthy. For us, it’s the next-man-up mentality. Continue to play the right way and have some guys step up in his absence.”
  • Pelicans big man Larry Nance Jr. has missed the past month after aggravating a rib fracture, but he’ll be active tonight against Utah, he told Christian Clark of NOLA.com and other media members (Twitter link). Nance has been limited to 14 games thus far in 2023/24.
  • The Heat have dealt with numerous injuries once again this season and will be shorthanded during Thursday’s contest in Golden State, tweets Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. Jimmy Butler (left calf strain), Kyle Lowry (soreness), Caleb Martin (right ankle sprain) are all out, Josh Richardson (back discomfort) is doubtful, and Orlando Robinson is away from the team after being assigned to the G League.

Heat Notes: Herro, Adebayo, Rotation, Lowry, Jovic

After missing 18 and seven consecutive games, respectively, Tyler Herro (right ankle sprain) and Bam Adebayo (left hip contusion) returned from their injuries on Monday when the Heat hosted Minnesota. Although Miami lost the game to the Western Conference’s top seed, Herro and Adebayo didn’t show many signs of rust, combining for 47 total points on 20-of-40 shooting against the NBA’s best defense.

As Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel (subscriber link) writes, while having Herro and Adebayo back is obviously good news for the Heat, it will create some rotation decisions for head coach Erik Spoelstra. Duncan Robinson and Orlando Robinson had been regular starters with Herro and Adebayo out, but both players returned to the bench on Monday, with Orlando not playing at all.

The Heat used nine players on Monday, but Kyle Lowry (soreness), who typically has a fairly significant role, wasn’t active. With that in mind, Winderman wonders if one of those nine players – perhaps Josh Richardson – will become the victim of a rotation crunch when everyone is healthy or if Spoelstra will decide to regularly use 10 players.

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • Lowry was carrying a heavy workload while the Heat were shorthanded due to injuries, notes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald, so the veteran guard’s absence on Monday seemed more like an effort to get him a rest day than a result of any serious health issue. Spoelstra declined on Monday to say whether Lowry would be given more time off, per Winderman. “We treat everything on a game-by-game basis,” the Heat coach said.
  • Because the incentives in Herro’s contract are tied to postseason awards like All-NBA, MVP, and Defensive Player of the Year, the team now knows for sure that he won’t earn any of those bonuses this season, since he’ll fall short of the 65-game minimum required to qualify, Winderman writes for The Sun Sentinel (subscription required). That means Herro’s 2024/25 cap hit will remain at $29MM rather than increasing, which is useful information for the team to have as it weighs potential roster moves with an eye on next season’s salary.
  • JC Butler, the son of Heat assistant coach Caron Butler, has joined the team’s G League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, as Winderman details in the same story. The younger Butler went undrafted out of UC Irvine in 2022.
  • Nikola Jovic continues to bounce back and forth between the NBA and the G League, according to Chiang, who writes that the second-year forward is expected to return to the Skyforce on Tuesday to take part in the G League’s Winter Showcase in Orlando. “We want to get him game minutes, as much as possible,” Spoelstra said. Jovic added that he’s being “patient” and still feels as if the organization believes in him despite the lack of opportunities at the NBA level.

Heat Notes: O. Robinson, Adebayo, Richardson, Jaquez

Heat center Orlando Robinson didn’t expect to be an NBA starter so soon, but he’s taking advantage of the opportunity created by Bam Adebayo‘s injury, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Adebayo will miss his fourth straight game tonight in Charlotte with a left hip contusion, so Robinson will likely be in the starting lineup again.

The 23-year-old posted the best game of his brief NBA career last Wednesday with 15 points and 12 rebounds at Toronto, but that was followed by a rough outing against Cleveland on Friday in which he was a minus-18 in 20 minutes. Coach Erik Spoelstra said Robinson continues to improve as he deals with the increased responsibility.

“He makes you absolutely respect his fortitude and his grit,” Spoelstra said. “He is relentless with his work, with his approach, with his commitment to earn trust from everybody and he does it with a competitive spirit. He gets better each month. He goes to school on everything. If he makes a mistake in any kind of game, he gets to work with the film, with [Heat assistant coach] Malik [Allen] and then he wants to drill it 10,000 times, which is what we love.”

Robinson, who has $850K of his $1.8MM salary for this season already guaranteed, wasn’t in the team’s rotation when the season began. He played in just four of the first 18 games and spent time in the G League late last month. Robinson may fall out of the rotation again when Adebayo returns, with Kevin Love likely to be the primary backup center, but this latest stretch confirms his belief that he’s a legitimate NBA player.

“I knew,” Robinson said. “It was just waiting on the opportunity and making the most of it.”

There’s more on the Heat:

  • Josh Richardson expressed frustration after being called for his third flopping violation of the season in Friday’s game, Chiang adds in a separate story. The NBA has placed a renewed emphasis on getting rid of flopping, fining players $2K for each violation, but Richardson doesn’t believe officials are doing a good job of policing it. “I don’t know what it is,” he said. “Maybe I just need to start running people over and stop falling or do something. But I don’t know, I think it’s terrible.”
  • Jaime Jaquez isn’t bitter about falling to 18th in this year’s draft, but he tells Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel that he’s “definitely aware” of all the players who were selected ahead of him. Jaquez, who was chosen as the league’s Rookie of the Month for November, said the long wait paid off when he learned that he was headed to Miami. “So as long as I came here, I was good,” he said. “So it ended up working out for me. To the teams that passed, sorry, but this is where I wanted to go, anyway.”
  • The Lakers’ in-season tournament dominance could make the Heat think about adding more size to their roster, Winderman states in a mailbag column.

Southeast Notes: Ball, Williams, Smith Jr., Adebayo, Robinson, Jaquez

Hornets guard LaMelo Ball suffered a severe sprain of his right ankle on November 26 and he’ll be reevaluated in approximately one week. Ball told The Charlotte Observer’s Roderick Boone that he’s gradually progressing in his recovery from the injury.

“Just slow progress. I’m doing treatment every day, just trying to get better,” the Hornets star said. “From when it happened, it feels a little better.”

Ball is optimistic he can return to the Hornets lineup sooner than expected: “It feels way better than when it happened because at first I couldn’t even put any pressure on my foot. But now I can stand on two feet, walk a little. Still (have) a little limp, but way better than it was.”

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Hornets list Mark Williams (low back contusion) and Nick Smith Jr. (right foot) as doubtful for the their game against Miami on Monday. Williams, who is averaging 12.7 points and 9.7 rebounds, departed after playing 20 minutes against Toronto on Friday.
  • Heat center Bam Adebayo will miss his fourth straight game due to a left hip contusion, according to Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald. With Adebayo sidelined, Orlando Robinson recorded the first double-double of his career against Toronto on Wednesday. Robinson had a rough outing against Cleveland on Friday with a plus/minus of -18 in 20 minutes. His $1.8MM salary doesn’t fully guarantee until Jan. 10.
  • Jaime Jaquez played four years of college ball and he’s boosted the Heat immediately, averaging 12.2 points (on 52.2% shooting), 3.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. The 18th overall pick of the June draft is proving that experienced college players can bring more to the table than a one-and-done, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel notes. “I think the fact that he played four years of college, for sure, was viewed as a negative thing and that’s a shame right now because he was a winning player,” coach Erik Spoelstra said.

Heat Notes: Lowry, O. Robinson, Martin, Hampton

Kyle Lowry finished last season as a reserve and spent the summer hearing rumors that Damian Lillard was coming to Miami, but he’s back as the Heat’s starting point guard and still playing at a high level, writes Eric Koreen of The Athletic. Lowry’s expiring $29.7MM contract has kept him in trade rumors, but wherever he winds up, he wants a consistent on-court role.

“I want to be able to play,” Lowry said. “The one thing about me is I’m a competitor. I might not be able to play 45 minutes a night. If I have an opportunity to play basketball and I can play, I want to be able to help. Being a mentor is something I do every day, and I’ve been doing it every day for a long time in my career. That’s something I (need) to do. It’s something I’ve been doing.”

With Lowry set to turn 38 in March, Koreen suggests he may be one of the few NBA players ever to remain productive at age 40. A wave of injuries to teammates has resulted in Lowry playing the most minutes of anyone on Miami’s roster so far, Koreen adds, but coach Erik Spoelstra is being careful not to overextend him. Lowry is a valuable part of the offense — shooting 43.6% from three-point range and sporting an assist-to-turnover ratio of about 4-to-1 — and the Heat will need him fresh and healthy for the playoffs.

“It’s a symbiotic relationship,” Spoelstra said. “But we need that Hall of Fame point guard play from him to really unlock some of the things we’re trying to do.”

There’s more on the Heat:

  • Spoelstra used his 14th different starting lineup in 21 games, with a combination of Lowry, Duncan Robinson, Jimmy Butler, Caleb Martin and Orlando Robinson that had only shared the court for 10 combined minutes prior to Wednesday, according to Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. With Bam Adebayo sidelined by a hip contusion, Orlando Robinson made his second consecutive start at center and delivered the first double-double of his career with 15 points and 12 rebounds. “He gets better each month and you saw that tonight,” Spoelstra said. “He had a lot of big plays. The rebounding down the stretch, his defensive detail work was really good.”
  • Martin appears fully recovered from the left knee tendinosis that caused him to miss 10 games early in the season, Chiang adds. He has averaged 18.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists over his last five games and is looking more like the player who had an important role in Miami’s run to the NBA Finals.
  • R.J. Hampton is close to returning from the sprained knee he suffered in late October, per Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. Spoelstra said the Heat are eager to continue the development process with Hampton, who may be assigned to the G League once he’s cleared to resume playing.

Heat Notes: Jaquez, Adebayo, O. Robinson, Herro

Jaime Jaquez knew where he wanted to go in the draft, and he got his wish when Miami selected him with the 18th pick, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Projected as a mid-first rounder after spending four years at UCLA, Jaquez was aware that he might still be on the board for Miami’s selection and he was hoping for the chance to work with two legends.

“I think when it comes to basketball, just being under (team president) Pat Riley and coach Spo (Erik Spoelstra), I don’t think you could ask for two better guys when it comes to basketball to play under and learn from,” Jaquez said. “So that was a big reason. I also didn’t want to stay in L.A. for all my life. I wanted to get out and be somewhere new, kind of challenge myself to get out of my comfort zone. So coming to Miami was a spot that I always really loved. I had been here before a couple times and I just loved the city, loved everything about it. So I just really wanted to come here.”

The Heat are thrilled with the production they’ve gotten from Jaquez, who has been pressed into extra duty since an early-season injury to Tyler Herro. He has responded by averaging 12.0 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.1 steals in his first 19 NBA games.  Chiang also notes that his shooting touch has been excellent — 52.9% from the field, 39% from three-point range and 87.5% from the free throw line — and he’s an asset on defense as well.

“He’s playing winning basketball,” Spoelstra said. “He’s able to complement a lot of different lineups. He’s eating up everything right now and he’s a smart player. So he picks up things quickly. But the biggest thing is he’s a competitor, he’s a mature player and those type of characteristics can fit in with what we’re trying to do.”

There’s more from Miami:

  • Bam Adebayo will miss tonight’s game with a left hip contusion and he won’t travel with the team for Wednesday’s contest in Toronto, tweets Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Chiang points out that Miami has a lull in its schedule with just three games over nine days, so Adebayo will have a chance to heal (Twitter link).
  • Orlando Robinson‘s contract became guaranteed for $850K on Friday, per Keith Smith of Spotrac (Twitter link). The second-year center will receive his full $1.8MM salary if he remains on the roster through the league-wide guarantee date of January 7.
  • The Heat’s rotation has changed since Herro was injured, and Spoelstra will have to make more adjustments when he returns, observes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Winderman notes that when Herro sprained his ankle on November 8, Caleb Martin wasn’t playing significant minutes, Josh Richardson was still adjusting to the team and Jaquez hadn’t scored more than 11 points in a game. There were also questions about whether Duncan Robinson and Haywood Highsmith could handle starting roles.

Injury Notes: Haliburton, Bam, K. Murray, Nuggets, Suns, Hornets

Pacers point guard Tyrese Haliburton is expected to be out for Saturday’s game against Miami, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports. Indiana’s best player is officially listed as questionable.

As Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star tweets, Haliburton missed the team’s shootaround this morning due to a right knee bone bruise and an upper respiratory infection. The Pacers went just 6-20 without Haliburton last season, notes ESPN’s Bobby Marks (via Twitter).

Haliburton, who signed a five-year, maximum-salary rookie scale extension in the offseason, is off to an All-NBA-caliber start to 2023/24, averaging career highs of 27.0 points and a league-leading 11.8 assists per game while posting an elite .519/.447/.880 shooting line. The Pacers host the Celtics on Monday for the quarterfinal of the league’s inaugural in-season tournament, so hopefully he’ll be back in time for that contest.

Heat center Bam Adebayo has also been ruled out of Saturday’s contest due to a left hip contusion, tweets Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel (subscriber link) wouldn’t be surprised to see Orlando Robinson get the starting nod in his place, with Kevin Love continuing to come off the bench due to the synergy he’s developing with the second unit.

Here are a few more injury notes from around the NBA:

  • Kings forward Keegan Murray, the No. 4 overall pick of last year’s draft, will return on Saturday against Denver after missing four games due to lower back soreness, sources tell Sean Cunningham of Fox 40 KTXL (Twitter link). As for the Nuggets, Jamal Murray (ankle) and Aaron Gordon (heel) are questionable after missing Friday’s game against Phoenix, according to Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports (Twitter link).
  • Suns star Devin Booker is questionable for Saturday’s contest vs. Memphis, notes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Booker, who is dealing with an ankle sprain, missed Friday’s game against Denver. Eric Gordon is also questionable due to a right knee contusion.
  • Hornets backup center Nick Richards will return to action on Saturday after missing the previous six games while in the league’s concussion protocol, the team announced (via Twitter). No. 2 overall pick Brandon Miller will also be available after missing Charlotte’s last game with a left ankle injury.

Heat Notes: Smith, Point Guards, Starting Five, Martin

Dru Smith‘s persistence finally paid off Saturday as the Heat rewarded him with a standard contract, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. The 25-year-old guard has signed several two-way deals since going undrafted out of Missouri in 2021, but this is the first standard contract of his career.

Smith was in his third straight training camp and preseason with the team, Chiang notes. His first season was spent in the G League as part of the Heat’s player development system. He signed a two-way contract with Miami last offseason, got a two-way deal with Brooklyn in January after being released and returned to the Heat on another two-way contract in July.

“I think it’s just, one, their developmental program, and two, just the way that they go at things,” Smith said in explaining his loyalty to the organization. “I think that they give you real opportunities no matter what your name is, no matter where you came from. I think that they truly evaluate talent and evaluate how you affect winning. If you’re doing that in a positive way, then you’re going to get a chance to play.”

Smith is set to make the league minimum of $1.7MM this season, Chiang adds, but his two-year contract will be non-guaranteed beyond a $425K guarantee on opening night. Smith and Orlando Robinson are the team’s only players without fully guaranteed deals before the league-wide guarantee date of January 10.

There’s more from Miami:

  • Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel believes the team’s need for insurance at point guard was behind the decision to give Smith a standard deal instead of Jamal Cain. The Heat don’t have a natural point guard to back up Kyle Lowry, so that role appears likely to fall to Josh Richardson, with Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Caleb Martin and Tyler Herro also helping to facilitate the offense.
  • The Heat’s new starting lineup of Butler, Adebayo, Lowry, Herro and Kevin Love will play together for the first time when the season opens on Wednesday, Winderman adds in a separate story. Lowry was coming off the bench when Love signed with the team in February, Herro got injured in the first game of the playoffs and Butler sat out the entire preseason.
  • Caleb Martin played 13 minutes in his preseason debut Friday night and should be ready for the start of the season, Chiang writes for the Herald. Martin missed the first four preseason games due to tendinitis in his left knee.
  • In another story for the Herald, Chiang lists 10 takeaways from the preseason and considers what they’ll mean for the Heat in the regular season.