Miami Heat looking for defense, energy from forward Okaro White

Heat forward Okaro White drives against the Charlotte Hornets during a preseason game. (Photo by Getty Images)

Heat forward Okaro White drives against the Charlotte Hornets during a preseason game. (Photo by Getty Images)

 

MIAMI – Okaro White was the right player at the right position. And now the former Florida State standout is on an NBA roster for the first time in his career.

Miami signed the 6-foot-8, 215-pound forward to a 10-day contract today, filling the roster spot they were granted under the hardship rule. White was brought in on Monday and signed today after the NBA determined guard Josh Richardson would miss at least the next two weeks because of a sprained left foot.

White did not play in the Heat’s 109-103 victory over the Houston Rockets on Tuesday.

White was elevated from the roster of the Heat’s D-League affiliate in Sioux Falls. His size was the primary reason he was brought in ahead of 6-2 point guard Briante Weber.

“It fits more of position of need right now,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I felt like we could have gone a couple of different ways.”

Even without Richardson, the roster is overloaded with guards. The forward spots have been thinned out with Josh McRoberts and Justise Winslow lost for the rest of the reason.

White has excelled on both ends for Sioux Falls.

“I just want to do what I can while I’m here, which is play defense and bring energy,” White said.

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White, 24, was undrafted out of Florida State in 2014. He spent last summer and the first three weeks of training camp with the Heat. White averaged 5.7 points and 4.3 rebounds during the preseason before being waived.

And he has been a pleasant surprise for coach Nevada Smith’s Skyforce, averaging 18.4 points and 8.7 rebounds in 23 games. Sioux Falls leads the Southwest Division with an 18-6 record.

“He’s been asked to do more than we asked him to do in the summer league or in training camp,” Spoelstra said. “Having to score more and shoulder more responsibilities offensively I think has been great for his development.

White is shooting .439 from the floor, including .302 (38 of 126) on threes in the D-League.

“Just the fact he has to play that kind of role (offensively), then defend the best player on the other team every single night, that’s invaluable,” Spoelstra said.

White was asked what the organization hold him when he was waived during camp.

“They told me to work hard,” he said. “The good thing is I think they had the faith in me having me for three months (in the summer and during camp). They knew I was real close.

“They do a great job not just coaching up there but spending time on developing individually. I pretty much took a boost of developing in every aspect of my game.”

Spoelstra said he would like to get White playing time as soon as possible.

“Yeah, I’m definitely open to it,” he said. “Another defender, long, play multiple positions. Just the way the season has been going everybody has to be ready.”

Teams can sign a player to two 10-days contracts before they have to sign that player for the remainder of the season or release him. White could stay with the Heat if they released another player, otherwise they would send him back down to Sioux Falls. He then could be signed by any other team.

In other injury news, backup center Willie Reed’s bruised sternum has healed enough for him to play tonight. Reed missed just one game but played three games after suffering the injury in Sacramento.

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