Walton and Williams are the Heat’s two two-way contract players who are set to spend most of the season with the organization’s developmental affiliate in the G League, the Sioux Falls Skyforce. They will travel to Sioux Falls on Sunday with the start of Skyforce training camp scheduled for Monday.
But the pair of undrafted players will spend one last night at AmericanAirlines Arena on Saturday for the Heat’s home opener against the Pacers. Walton and Williams have been able to stay with the Heat for their first two regular-season games even though they aren’t part of the team’s 15-man roster because the time before the start of developmental league training camp does not count toward the 45 days that players on two-way deals are allowed to spend in the NBA.
“It’s invaluable to be able to spend a summer with us developing in our program — training camp, all of preseason and then the first week of the regular season where there’s a little bit more details to everything,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Walton and Williams in advance of Saturday’s game against Indiana. “To the game planning, to preparing for games, all of that. So that should serve them well on their next step.”
The Heat signed Walton to his two-way contract in July. Walton, a point guard who played his college basketball at Michigan, averaged 2.8 points and 1.8 assists in 10.4 minutes in six preseason games with Miami.
“Pretty much just do what I do,” Walton said Saturday when asked what the Heat coaching staff wants him to work on in Sioux Falls. “Run the team, make shots, and mostly on my side of things just being a lot more effective on defense. Picking up on schemes and what not. Pretty much just play ball and be the best I can be.”
The Heat converted Williams’ contract to a two-way deal on Oct. 15, as his 3-point shooting caught Miami’s attention. The Central Florida product made 39 percent of his 3-point shots in eight games as a member of the Heat’s summer league team, and impressed by making 3-of-6 shots from long range in a preseason win over the Wizards on Oct. 11.
“I think this whole experience is important to them, even a practice like yesterday, where we’re just reviewing game plan and going through situations on defense to help the starters and the second group out,” Spoelstra said. “But the level of our commitment to level of detail, even for that . . . that actually helps you if you actually get thrown into a situation. But everything that we want them to continue to grow is understanding the pro game, understanding our identity, understanding the level of attention to detail, that everything matters.”
While Walton and Williams now have to leave Miami for Sioux Falls. They hope one day, the Heat locker room is their permanent home.
“That’s the plan,” Walton said.