The Miami Heat knew it had to take back something from Dallas in the Josh McRoberts trade so why not a 7-footer who stretches the floor.
A.J. Hammons will not be confused with Chris Bosh, but for a relatively cheap price, the Heat could have a couple of years to determine if Hammons has a future in the NBA.
Hammons was sent to Las Vegas to join up with the Heat’s summer league team after he was acquired and there he played in six games and averaged 5.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks while shooting 58.8 percent from the field in 17.3 minutes.
The Heat finished 4-2 in Las Vegas, losing Saturday in the quarterfinals.
Riley said when Hammons’ name was floated in the trade the staff pulled out their scouting reports from his four years at Purdue.
“It’s part of the deal because you have to bring a player back in the deal but also he is the kind of player that sort of fits that mold of the stretch five or four,” Riley said. “We remember him from Purdue when he played there. But that (trade) also happened very quickly. That wasn’t something where we took a survey from our scouts and said, ‘what do you think?’ We made that deal pretty quickly when it came about. But we knew enough about him, we already had scouting reports on him and we looked at it.”
Hammons is a raw 24-year-old who was taken in the second round (46th overall) of the 2016 draft by the Mavericks. His size, defense, shot blocking skills and mid-range game makes him an intriguing prospect. He played 22 games for Dallas as a rookie, scoring 48 points while shooting 40.5 percent, including 5-of-10 on threes. He also played 15 games in the developmental league, averaging 12.1 points, 7.5 rebounds and shooting 51.3 percent (25.0 percent on threes).
Hammons is under contract for two more years at $1.3 million for the upcoming season and $1.5 million for 2018-19. Unless he is traded or waived he will count against the Heat’s 15-man roster even if he is send to Sioux Falls for further development. And he is not a candidate for a two-way contract.
Hammons was suspended more than once while at Purdue and many questioned his focus. The transgressions were more about responsibility and maturity, things like forgetting his shoes for a road game, being late for the team bus and practices. As a result his play was inconsistent.
But late in Hammons’ senior season Purdue coach Matt Painters told Fox Sports that his big man’s preparation and habits started to improve.
As a senior, Hammons was first team All-Big Ten and led the conference in field goal percentage (.592). He averaged 15.0 points and 8.2 rebounds.
The Heat have will enter the season with a frontcourt rotation of Hassan Whiteside, James Johnson and Kelly Olynyk. Additionally, Udonis Haslem is expected to re-sign and Okaro White made an impression last season enough to stick for the second half of the season.