LAS VEGAS – The Miami Heat move onto tournament play in the Las Vegas summer league Thursday, but it is unknown if their two best players will be on the court.
Forward Derrick Jones Jr. has not played since spraining his right ankle Sunday and coach Eric Glass said Jones remains day-to-day. But since Jones did not practice Wednesday it is highly unlikely he will play when the Heat face the Pelicans at 4 p.m. at the Cox Pavilion.
“He couldn’t do anything,” Glass said after Wednesday’s practice at The Clark High School in Las Vegas. “We will see how (Thursday) goes. It’s not as bad as we thought it was.”
Bam Adebayo, who had 24 points and nine rebounds in the Heat’s 98-90 victory over Utah on Tuesday, could also sit. Adebayo has played in all but one of the Heat’s six summer league games, missing their second game in Las Vegas.
The Heat’s coaches will decide if they want to shut down Adebayo.
Miami will face the Pelicans for a second time in four games, having lost 110-84 Saturday.
If the Heat defeat New Orleans they advance in tournament play on Saturday. If they lose, their final game of summer league is Friday.
The Heat are 3-3 in summer league games, 2-1 in Sacramento, 1-2 in Las Vegas.
“I looked at it like there’s 29 other teams, we got to play the same team again?” Glass said. “But on the positive side we have some film against these guys. There are things they really hurt us on, a shooter that really hurt us. Let’s correct what we can do. It’s a good challenge.”
Trevon Bluiett, an undrafted rookie out of Xavier, scored 26 points on 10-of-14 shooting, including 6-of-10 on threes.
One player who needs more time on the court to get his shot back on track is Derrick Walton Jr., the point guard who spent last season on a Heat two-way contract. Walton has struggled mightily, making just 12-of-49 from the floor (24.5 percent) and 3-of-27 on threes (11.1 percent). He is averaging 7.2 points.
“It’s really hard in this game, especially when you’re a shooter when your shot’s not going to find a way to impact the game,” Glass said. “He’s done that. He’s never put his head down. He’s never turned down an open shot. He’s focused on giving to his teammates and competing on the defensive end of the floor and that’s all you can ask for.”
“What’s important to us is he’s playing defense,” Glass said after the Heat’s 86-76 victory over the Kings on Thursday, closing out the Sacramento portion of their summer league winning 2-of-3.
“I think you all have seen it the first three games. He’s really taken a commitment. He wasn’t doing that stuff consistently all year and he’s really taken it upon himself to take the challenge on that end. And he’s battling his butt off.”
Walton had a nightmarish week from the floor in Sacramento, shooting 18.5 percent (5 of 27) and 16.7 percent (3 of 18) on 3-pointers in the three games. But it was worse after two games. Walton missed all but two of his 18 attempts and made just 1-of-14 threes.
So when Walton saw his first two shots fall against the Kings, both threes, it still felt good, even thought his shooting woes were not what the coaches were focusing on.
“I wasn’t shooting to my normal standards but you go through spells like that,” he said. “I just had to make sure I was doing other things. … just being disruptive, getting us into the offense. Just making other plays. I always know my shot would come but it was satisfying to see one go through today.”
Walton added seven assists and no turnovers Thursday. He averaged 6.67 assists for the three games.
Walton, 23, starred at Michigan but was undrafted in 2017. He is seeking a second two-way contract after being extended a qualifying offer from the Heat. He was on a two-way deal the entire 2017-18 season and split time between Miami and Sioux Falls of the G League. At Sioux Falls, Walton averaged 16.1 points and shot 44.2 percent from the floor.
He also averaged 7.0 assists. The Heat are looking for him to become more of a natural leader at point guard.
“I’ve been doing the point guard thing my entire life so it’s kind of second nature,” Walton said. “The way we’re playing with some experimental stuff, I’m just trying to make sure I’m doing stuff in the flow of the offense, I’m just trying to put my head down and make a play.”
The Heat open play in the Las Vegas summer league at 2 p.m. Saturday against New Orleans. Walton has a laundry list of things he wants to continue to work on in Vegas, where the Heat will play a minimum of five games.
Areas like being more disruptive on defense, getting back into the play when he’s screened and continuing to lead by example and voice.
Also on that list: Shoot the ball like he’s accustomed to shooting.
“He’s a good enough shooter,” Glass said. “We tell him if he passes up open shots that we’re going to be pissed. So just keep shooting it. Those things are going to fall. I’m not worried about that. Just get into your defense the shot will come.”
MIAMI — The Heat entered the offseason with a lot of questions surrounding their roster and very little financial flexibility to make significant changes.
Excluding cap holds, the Heat have 11 players under contract for 2018-19 who are due about $120 million. That puts Miami way above the $101.9 million salary cap and very close to the $123.7 million luxury tax line.
Unable to sign players into space because the Heat are capped out, they will have to rely on exceptions, minimum contracts, the power of Bird rights or even trades to fill out their roster.
First up, three games in the California Summer League, starting at 9 p.m. tonight against Golden State. After facing the Lakers and Kings in Sacramento, the Heat then move onto the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas where they begin play Saturday. Each team will play at least five games in Las Vegas.
Here are five things to look for with the Heat during summer league:
Bam Adebayo stretching his outside shot: The Heat’s first-round pick in 2017 had a solid rookie season, playing in 69 games and averaging 6.9 points and 5.5 rebounds. Of Adebayo’s 174 field goals, 91 were dunks, which placed him 25th in the league. Of his 340 field goal attempts, 300 were from within 10 feet and just 21 shots were from beyond 15 feet. Heat summer league coach Eric Glass even mentioned Adebayo working on his 3-point shot.
Derrick Jones Jr. expanding his offensive game: Jones, who was signed to a standard two-year contract Saturday, is known as a defender and a leaper. This is where he can work on his offensive game. “You’ll see him on the wing, attacking,” Glass said. “You’ll see him handling. You’ll see him with an improved 3-point jumper so hopefully he can see the ball go through the net.”
Derrick Walton Jr.’s leadership: Walton, like Jones, split time last season between the Heat and Sioux Falls while on a two-way contract. He is 6-foot-1 and was able to show off his point-guard skills in the G League last season, averaging 7.0 assists in 27 games for the Skyforce. The next step is for Walton to become more of a leader on the court.
Rashad Vaughn’s attempt to rehabilitate his career: Other than Adebayo, the 6-6 Vaughn is the only player on the Heat roster who was drafted. He was taken 17th overall by the Bucks and after playing in 70 games as a rookie has played in just 69 games the last two seasons, including 28 last season for three different teams. He has averaged 3.0 points in his career. Another reason to watch Vaughn, he will be a hometown favorite when the Heat get to Las Vegas having played one season at UNLV.
Who could emerge as a training camp invitee: The Heat have some interesting players on the roster including 6-9 forward Jarrod Jones, who spent the last six seasons playing professionally in Europe; 6-9 forward Yante Maten of Georgia, the 2017-18 SEC Player of Year; 6-10 Landry Nnoko, the G League’s Defensive Player of the Year last season while playing for Grand Rapids and 6-2 Tai Webster, who played professionally in Europe before going to Nebraska and professionally in Germany last season after four years at Nebraska.
SACRAMENTO – The Heat did not add Bam Adebayo to their summer league roster to play sparingly. Adebayo will see regular minutes when the team kicks off two-weeks of summer league play Monday against Golden State at Golden 1 Center.
Heat summer league coach Eric Glass, the team’s video coordinator/player development coach, said it’s a front office decision but he expects Adebayo, Miami’s top pick (14th overall) in the 2017 draft, to play in the majority of the games. The Heat will play three games at the home of the Sacramento Kings before moving into the NBA Summer League, Friday through July 17 in Las Vegas.
“We want him to see him improve in every area,” said Glass, who added that Adebayo, and others, would play heavy minutes in some games and sit out others. The Heat have a 14-man roster.
“We want to see his leadership and how he’s affecting his other teammates, we want to see that grow. On the court you’ll see him handle, you’ll see him screening and rolling, you’ll see him in the post a little bit. Hopefully we’ll stretch him out to the three.”
Adebayo mentioned recently he’s hoping to expand his outside shooting. Last season Adebayo played in 19 games and averaged 6.9 points and 5.5 rebounds as a rookie. The majority of his baskets were dunks and at the rim. He attempted just seven 3-pointers, missing them all.
“The system will be free flowing so we’ll give him some options to space to the corner or he’ll be down on the box,” Glass said. “So, he’ll have some freedom to get around. We’ll get him in spots that we want him and places where he can be most effective. But we’re going to try to develop his all-around game.”
The roster includes two others who saw time with the Heat last season, forward Derrick Jones Jr., who was signed to a two-year contract Saturday, and point guard Derrick Walton Jr. Jones and Walton spent time with the Heat and with Sioux Falls, the organization’s developmental league team, last season as two-way players.
“We love Derrick,” Glass said about Jones. “He’s a typical Miami Heat guy. We are trying to develop (him), teach him how to be a pro, teach him how to work. From the day he came here, he’s been all in he’s been wide-eyed. We’re going to put him in positions to grow and be successful. You’ll see him on the wing, attacking. You’ll see him handling. You’ll see him with an improved 3-point jumper so hopefully he can see the ball go through the net.”
Glass was asked what the Heat want to see from Walton:
“Leadership at the point guard position and then his defense has really improved,” he said. “He’s really committed to that end. He’s become more competitive at that end. He’s a guy who can really shoot it from outside.”
The Heat’s roster is a mix of undrafted free agents from the 2018 class and others who have bounced around several professional leagues. The team was announced last week and they have been practicing since Friday. Glass said the level in which each player is able to make the transition depends on their background.
“Duncan Robinson is a guy, he’s shown a high IQ but I think playing for (John) Beilein at Michigan has helped him. He’s picking up things quicker than some of the other guys that might not be running as much NBA stuff.
“Heat terminology is going to be different. But we try to fast-track the guys. I would say the college guys are the ones who have the hardest transition because it’s a little bit more terminology than they were used to.”
MIAMI – With the 2018 draft completed, NBA teams are focusing on filling their summer league rosters.
The Miami Heat revealed their 14-man roster today for the Sacramento and Las Vegas summer leagues. The Heat begin play Monday in Sacramento and will play three games in four days. The team will hold three practices in Sacramento before the games begin. Miami then heads to the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas where its first game is scheduled for July 7. The team will play a tournament style schedule with the championship game July 17. Each team will play at least five games in Las Vegas.
The Heat roster was completed with additions of center Landry Nnoko of Clemson who played in Grand Rapids last season, guard Rashad Vaughn of UNLV and guard Tai Webster of Nebraska who played in Germany last season. The roster includes the franchise’s No. 1 pick in the 2017-18 draft, Bam Adebayo along with Derrick Jones Jr. and Derrick Walton Jr., the Heat’s two two-way players last season.
Bam Adebayo, 6-10, C, Kentucky/Heat: Adebayo showed plenty of promise his rookie year both offensively and defensively and the Heat just want him to get more experience after playing in 69 games, including 19 starts. He averaged 6.9 points and 5.5 rebounds while shooting 51.2 percent.
Dikembe Dixson, 6-7, F, University Illinois-Chicago: Dixson, an undrafted free agent, started all 72 games he played at UIC. He was the unanimous choice as the Horizon League Freshman of the Year in 2016. After suffering a torn ACL in UIC’s 10th game two years ago he led the team with 14.2 ppg last season.
Matt Farrell, 6-0, G, Notre Dame: An undrafted free agent, Farrell played four years at Notre Dame, increasing his scoring, rebounding and assists every year. He started every game his junior and season seasons and averaged 16.3 points and 5.3 assists last season.
Derrick Jones Jr., 6-7, G/F, UNLV/Heat: Jones has played 52 NBA games, 20 for the Heat (eight starts) last season and 32 for Phoenix (eight starts) in 2016-17. Last season, he averaged 3.1 points and 1.9 rebounds for Miami and played in 29 G League games with Sioux Falls and Northern Arizona, averaging 17.4 points and 7.4 rebounds.
Jarrod Jones, F, 6-9, Ball State/Turkey: Jones, 28, has spent the last six seasons playing professionally in Europe. He averaged 19.2 points and 10.1 rebounds in the top level Italian League two years ago and was in Turkey last season. He played at Ball State from 2008-12 and finished his career third on the school’s all-time rebound and blocks list.
Daryl Macon, 6-3, G, Arkansas: Macon, who was not drafted, played two seasons for the Razorbacks and was a first-team All-SEC selection by the media and second team by the coaches last season. He averaged 16.8 points and a team-high 3.9 assists as a senior. He played two years at Holmes Community College in Goodman, Miss.
Yante Maten, 6-8, F, Georgia: An undrafted free agent, Maten was the SEC Player of the Year last season after averaging 19.3 points and 8.6 rebounds and a finalist for the Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year. He played four seasons for the Bulldogs.
Landry Nnoko, 6-10, C, Clemson/Grand Rapids: Nnoko, 24, was the G League’s defensive player of the year while playing for Grand Rapids last season and averaged 14.8 points and 11.5 rebounds. He is from Cameroon and played professionally in Italy after going undrafted out of Clemson in 2016. Nnoko attended the Pistons training camp in 2017 before being cut and joining Grand Rapids.
Ike Nwamu, 6-5, G, UNLV/Sioux Falls: Nwamu, 25, has spent the last two seasons with the Heat’s developmental team. He averaged 9.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 2016-17 and 14.5 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists last season while leading the Skyforce with 47 games played.
Duncan Robinson, 6-8, G/F, Michigan: Robinson went undrafted after playing three seasons for the Wolverines. He made a team-high 38 threes last season – averaging 9.2 points while starting 19 games – and shot 41.9 percent on 3 pointers in his career. Robinson transferred to Michigan after leading Williams Ephs to the 2014 NCAA Division III championship game. He was the 2014 Division III Rookie of the Year.
Justin Tillman, 6-8, F, VCU: Tillman went undrafted after averaging 18.9 points and 9.9 rebounds while shooting .557 as a senior at VCU. He was named to All-Atlantic 10 first team and was an All-Defensive Team selection. He led the A-10 in rebounding. Tillman had an impressive Portsmouth Invitational, averaging 18.3 points and 13.0 rebounds.
Rashad Vaughn, 6-6, G, UNLV: Vaughn, 21, was the 17th overall pick by the Bucks in 2015 after one year at UNLV. He has played parts of three seasons in the NBA, including more than two years for the Bucks and a handful of games for the Magic and Nets. In 139 career games, including eight starts, he is averaging 3.0 points in 12.0 minutes. He was named the Mountain West Conference freshman of the year in his only season at UNLV, averaging 17.8 points.
Derrick Walton Jr., 6-1, G, Michigan/Heat: Walton spilt time last season between the Heat and the Skyforce. He played in 16 games for Miami, averaging 1.8 points in 9.2 minutes. He played 27 games for Sioux Falls averaging 16.1 points and 7.0 assists.
Tai Webster, 6-2, G, Germany/Nebraska: Webster, 23, is a New Zealand native who played four years at Nebraska where he averaged 17.0 points as a senior before going undrafted in 2017. He played last season for Frankfurt in the German league and played professionally in Australia and New Zealand before going to Nebraska. Webster played for the Warriors summer league team a year ago.
The Miami Heat have sent a qualifying offer to Derrick Walton Jr. for his two-way contract, making the 6-foot-1 point guard a restricted free agent starting Sunday.
The Heat will be allowed to match any offers Walton might receive.
The move was made with the intention of bringing back Walton on another two-way contract, similar to what the Heat did with Derrick Jones Jr., earlier this month. The Heat still could offer a two-way contract to another player but would have to release Walton or Jones.
A player can’t play under two-way contracts for the same team for more than three years total. Walton just completed his first season with the Heat under a two-way deal.
Walton was signed to his two-way contract last July after going undrafted out of Michigan in 2017. He split last season between the Heat and Miami’s G League developmental team in Sioux Falls. Walton appeared in 16 games for the Heat, averaging 1.8, points 1.0 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 9.2 minutes. At Sioux Falls he played in 27 games, all starts, and averaged 16.1 points, 7.0 assists and 3.9 rebounds. He shot 90.2 percent on free throws, which was fifth in the G League.
Walton and Jones will be a part of the Heat’s summer league teams which play in Sacramento and Las Vegas in July.
Miami’s next order of business before free agency starts at 12:01 Sunday is to guarantee Rodney McGruder’s $1.5 million contract for next season. That decision must come before Sunday.
The Heat now have seven players from the 2017-18 roster who will become free agents Sunday: Luke Babbitt, Wayne Ellington, Udonis Haslem, Dwyane Wade, Jordan Mickey, Jones and Walton.
Miami has 10 players under contract for 2018-19 who are due about $119 million, including McGruder if his deal is guaranteed.
That puts the Heat above the projected $101 million salary cap and very close to the projected $123 million luxury tax line.