Heat’s Kelly Olynyk is playing like a million bucks; which he also will earn when bonus kicks in

Miami’s Tyler Johnson (8), James Johnson, Kelly Olynyk (9) and Josh Richardson (0) talk on the court during a Heat victory over the Washington Wizards on March 10. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

MIAMI – Heat big man Kelly Olynyk has scored 52 points in his last two games, something he has done one other time in his career, totaling 53 in consecutive games late in his rookie season.

But Olynyk did something in each game he never had done in five seasons in the NBA.

Aside from giving the Heat a major scoring boost off the bench, Olynyk established two career highs: four blocks in Monday’s double overtime victory over the Nuggets and 10 assists in Wednesday’s rout of the Knicks.

“He adds so many dimensions to your offense because of his skill level and his shooting ability and his creativity,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “So it makes your shooters more open. It makes your attackers have better driving lanes and a lot of things that the defense has to negotiate through when he’s on the court. And he’s playing at a high level.”

Olynyk, 26, is emerging as the best offseason move by the Heat when they handed him $50 million for four seasons. The move, at the time, reeked of desperation. Miami had just lost out on Gordon Hayward, who signed with the Celtics, and were scrambling to bring back James Johnson and Dion Waiters. With extra money and the class dwindling, they turned to the versatile 7-footer, who was available because the Celtics had to let him go to free up money to sign Hayward.

Since, Olynyk has been a solid fit for a team forced to cobble together 22 different starting lineups and several combinations off the bench. Olynyk, who has started 22 of his 66 games and is averaging 11.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists – all career highs – appears to have found a home off the bench as the Heat (39-33) look to move up from their current spot as the seven seed in the East.

“We’re playing real connected right now on both ends of the floor,” he said. “Offense is clicking. Defense has been good when it needs to be. We can still get better, but we’re definitely trending upwards and that’s what you definitely want to be doing this time of year.”

Olynyk described his style as “unorthodox” as he was brushing off Denver coach Michael Malone’s claim that he “traveled all over the place” during a 30-point performance on Monday. Two nights later Olynyk had 22 on 8-of-11 shooting (he is 19 of 27 in his last two games) against the Knicks and was not whistled once for traveling.

And Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek had this to say:

“He’s got all the little tricks. … He’s just a smart player.”

But Olynyk’s reaction doesn’t change whether an opposing coach is downgrading his game or lifting it. That’s the way it’s always been for the simple, easy going Canadian.

This is how Olynyk described his recent uptick in play:

“Yeah, I mean, it’s just getting and being in the right spots a lot of the times. I don’t know, I just keep an aggressive mindset and play inside the system and making things difficult for the other team.”

That smile, though, did get a bit bigger when the subject of a $1 million bonus was brought up. His contract included a clause for this season that would increase his salary from $10.6 to $11.6 million if he plays 1,700 minutes. Olynyk had never logged more than 1,538.

Olynyk has 1,565 minutes and with 10 games remaining and should easily reach that bonus. He is averaging 23.7 minutes and is on pace to surpass 1,800.

While admitting he’s thought about an extra cool million at different times, it has not been foremost in his mind. He said he has not tracked it.

“It’s one of those things that, yeah, if it happens it happens,” he said. “It would be nice to have. The biggest thing right now is to make the playoffs.

“If you make the playoffs and you get it, perfect. If you don’t (get the bonus) and you make the playoffs I’d rather do that than have a $1 million bonus and be done on April 15th.”

For Olynyk, the season is headed toward a win-win.

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