With deadlines approaching, Heat sticking with their two two-way players, file for disabled player exception

Derrick Jones Jr of the Miami Heat dunks the ball against the Indiana Pacers during the Heat’s win in Indianapolis on Wednesday. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

CHICAGO – The Miami Heat are sticking with their two players on two-way contracts.

Monday is the deadline for signing players to the newly created contracts, which allows teams to carry two extra players but those players are limited to 45 days in the NBA with the rest of the season being spent on that franchise’s developmental league team. The Heat have had Derrick Walton Jr. on a two-way contract all season. On Dec. 31 they signed Derrick Jones Jr. to a two-way contract after waiving Matt Williams Jr.

“We’re probably a great case study for the relevance of the two-way player,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Our guys have developed in Sioux Falls but have also helped us win games here.”

Additionally, the Heat have applied for the Disabled Player Exception today, which gives them $5.5 million to add a player.

The Heat were able to apply for the exception because of the injury to Dion Waiters, who will miss the rest of the season after the team announced he would undergo surgery on his left ankle. Miami can use the money to sign or trade for a player, but one only on an expiring contract. The Heat, though, would have to create a roster spot to add a player.

For the exception to be granted, an independent doctor must confirm that Waiters’ ankle injury will sideline him through June 15. Miami never announced a timetable for Waiters’ return but Waiters was told if he had the surgery after the initial injury he would have missed eight to 10 months.

Walton has played in 12 Heat games this season, averaging 1.8 points and 1.1 assists in 8.8 minutes. Jones has played in four games for the Heat, including starting games last week in Toronto and Indiana, averaging 5.8 points and 2.8 rebounds in 17.6 minutes.

Both players were sent to Sioux Falls last weekend to participate in the G League Showcase and played a big role in the Skyforce’s 108-107 victory over the Raptors 905. Jones scored 30 points while Walton added 25.

Jones rejoined the Heat on Sunday. Walton remained with Sioux Falls. Jones has 16 remaining days with the Heat, Walton has 12 days remaining.

“Just in this short period of time with us he’s helped us win two games, he spent a lot of time with us developing and he’s helped Sioux Falls win an important game,” Spoelstra said of Jones. “So all of it I think is great. I think the most important thing is investing in players. Giving them a different contract than a normal G League contract but they should be allowed to play as many days in the NBA as possible.”

Spoelstra is not a big fan of players’ NBA time being limited.

“It’s still a little bit clumsy,” he said. “I hate having to look at the clock and see how many days they have available. If guys are contributing there shouldn’t be a limit to how many games they have to play and our guys have been able to take advantage of both.”

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