The Miami Heat are still learning the skills of first-round pick Nikola Jovic and Jovic is still learning how to play in the Heat’s system.
That’s no surprise, considering the Heat drafted the Serbian forward with the 27th overall pick less than two weeks ago on June 23.
After making his Summer League debut on Saturday, Jovic played off the bench in his second Summer League game as the Heat fell to the Sacramento Kings 81-64 on Sunday at Chase Center in the California Classic. . The Heat are 0-2 to start the summer league.
After a shaky summer debut that included just three points on 1-of-6 shooting from the field, three rebounds and two turnovers in 21 minutes as a starter on Saturday, Jovic’s learning process continued a day later.
Jovic, who turned 19 on June 9, finished Sunday’s loss with six points on 3-of-8 shooting from the field and 0-of-4 shooting from three, four rebounds and an assist in minutes (16) in a reserve role. with the Heat playing their second game in as many days.
“It’s something new for me,” Jovic said on Saturday. “Of course the pace is different and I could feel that right now. The game, the guys are a lot faster and a lot more athletic than in Europe. But I don’t find that to be a problem.”
Jovic was a first-round pick because of his intriguing offensive skills as he stood at 6-11 and 223 pounds. He is known as a three-tier scorer who can also act as a ball handler and facilitator.
Jovic showed that attacking talent on Sunday, hitting a back midrange jumper for his first points of the game, then taking advantage of a smaller defender to force his way to an easy lay-up during a seven-minute stint off from the bench for his only playing time in the first half.
Jovic threw a nice forward pass to forward Aaron Wheeler for a layup and a third quarter for his only assist of the day. He capped off the third period by converting a hook shot that came after catching a timely pass on a hard cut in the paint for his final points of the game.
“I think in general he just got a little more comfortable,” Heat assistant coach and summer league head coach Malik Allen said after Sunday’s loss. “You’ve seen a bit more talent and I think he’s going to continue to be able to do that. Rebound, be able to push the ball, start the break for us because he’s a good decision-maker, he’s a very willing setter, so we try to encourage him to do more.
For now, Heat and Jovic continue to learn more about each other.
“I think right now they’re still looking to see where I’m the best,” Jovic said on Friday. “They always try to find the ideal solution for me. So it will take a bit of time. But I think as soon as the games start I will show what I can do and they will know exactly where to place me. Right now we’re just experimenting a little bit bit.”
Center Orlando Robinson, who was undrafted out of Fresno State this year, also had some bright moments for the Heat’s summer team on Sunday with 10 points on 3-of-5 shooting from the field, five rebounds and four steals.
Forward Haywood Highsmith continued to show his NBA-level skills with nine points on 4-of-7 shooting from the field, nine rebounds, two steals and one block. Highsmith is one of three players from the Summer League squad who are under contract to make the Heat’s 15-man roster this coming season, along with Jovic and center Omer Yurtseven.
Heat guards Javonte Smart and Kyle Allman Jr. also impressed.
Smart, who holds one of the Heat’s two-way contracts, ended the loss with a team-high 12 points, along with three rebounds and four assists.
Allman, who was not drafted from Cal State Fullerton in 2019 and spent last season playing away in France, finished with 11 points, two rebounds and three assists.
The Heat entered the fourth quarter on Sunday with a three-point lead but were outscored 28-8 in the final period as the Kings took the win.
The Heat went into Sunday’s Summer Championship game without three players.
Forward Jamal Cain, who stood out in Saturday’s loss to the Lakers, was unavailable due to health and safety protocols.
Yurtseven and guard Marcus Garrett stayed away from the team and will not compete in the California Classic. Yurtseven and Garrett are expected to play in the Las Vegas Summer League.
Yurtseven played elsewhere on Sunday, however, finishing with nine points on 4-for-8 shooting from the field, three rebounds and an assist to help Turkey beat Great Britain 85-71 in a Cup qualifier of the world disputed in England.
The Heat’s summer team is inactive Monday before wrapping up its three-game stint at the California Classic against the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday (3 p.m., NBA TV). The Heat then travel to Las Vegas to play five games.
THIS AND THAT FROM DAY 4 OF FREE AGENCY
▪ The Heat have made no moves in free agency since receiving commitments from center Dewayne Dedmon and guard Victor Oladipo to return next season while losing forward PJ Tucker to the Philadelphia 76ers on the first day of the negotiations Thursday.
Friday and Saturday passed with no Heat additions, and Sunday marked the third straight day of calm as Miami’s front office focuses its attention on the Kevin Durant draft.
The Heat’s roster for next season currently has 12 standard contract players: Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, Dedmon, Tyler Herro, Highsmith, Jovic, Kyle Lowry, Oladipo, Duncan Robinson, Max Strus, Gabe Vincent and Yurtseven.
Mychal Mulder and Smart currently hold the Heat’s bilateral contracts.
NBA teams are allowed to carry up to 20 contracted players during the offseason and preseason, a total that does not include those under summer league contract. The rosters must be reduced to a maximum total of 17 players (15 under standard contract and two under two-way contract) by the start of the regular season.
Three players from the Heat’s late-season roster remain available in free agency: Udonis Haslem and Markieff Morris are unrestricted free agents and Caleb Martin is a restricted free agent.
▪ Dedmon and Oladipo won’t be able to be included in a trade until Jan. 15 after signing their new contracts with the Heat, which could happen once the free agency moratorium ends Wednesday at noon.
Most free agent signings become eligible to be traded on Dec. 15. But because the Heat used Bird or Early Bird rights while exceeding the salary cap to give Dedmon and Oladipo a more than 20% raise over last season’s salary, they may not be included in a exchange until January 15.
▪ Former Heat point guard Goran Dragic has agreed to a one-year contract at a $2.9 million veteran’s minimum wage to join the Chicago Bulls in free agency, according to multiple reports.
Dragic, 36, spent seven seasons with the Heat and is considered one of the best point guards in franchise history. He was traded by the Heat last offseason as part of the Lowry deal, splitting last season to the Toronto Raptors and Brooklyn Nets.
This story was originally published July 3, 2022 6:53 p.m.