MIAMI – Luke Babbitt could not stay away.
The Heat have re-acquired the 6-foot-9 forward from the Atlanta for forward Okaro White, who was later released by the Hawks. Babbitt, 28, played one season with the Heat, averaging 4.8 points and 1.9 rebounds last season before signing a one-year, minimum contract for $1,974,159 with the Hawks in August. He is an unrestricted free agent this summer.
The deal was made hours before the 3 p.m. trade deadline and first reported by Marc Spears of ESPN.
Just as he did a year ago, Babbitt gives the Heat another 3-point option and spreads the floor. He played in 68 games, starting 55 games, last season and although he averaged just 15.7 minutes, he was a 3-point threat helped open the lane for guards Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters.
“Luke is a player that gives you that outside shooting,” Dragic said. “They cannot shrink for him so much. If they do you have a really good 3-point shooter who is knocking down those shots. He kind of gives us the spacing on offense, for us attackers we can get inside the paint and make plays.”
The acquisition of Babbitt also gives the Heat insurance if Kelly Olynyk misses significant time because of his shoulder injury. Olynyk strained his left shoulder Monday against Orlando and sat out Wednesday’s 109-101 loss to the Rockets.
Miami originally acquired Babbitt in July 2019 from New Orleans, sending cash and a 2018 2nd round draft pick to the Pelicans.
Babbitt is averaging 6.1 points and 2.2 rebounds in 37 games (15.4 minutes per) with Atlanta. He has improved his shooting from last season making 47.6 percent from the field and 44.1 percent on 3-pointers. He is 49-of-111 on threes compared to 87-of-210 (41.4 percent) with Miami in 2016-17.
White, 25, played in just six games this season before undergoing surgery to repair a broken bone in his left foot. He averaged 2.8 points and 2.3 rebounds in 35 games last season.
White, from Florida State, signed a two-year deal last February and is guaranteed $1.3 million this season.