September 24, 2022

Nikola Jovic’s first two Summer League games were shaky, but the Miami Heat’s first-round pick showed his intriguing offensive potential on Tuesday.

The 19-year-old talented big man turned in his best summer league performance yet in the Heat’s blowout 94-70 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday afternoon in an empty Chase Center to close out the California Classic. The game was only open to NBA scouts and executives.

It was the Heat’s first win this summer, as they ended the California Classic with a 1-2 record. Next up for Miami is a five-game stint in the Las Vegas Summer League, which begins Saturday against the Boston Celtics (5:30 p.m., NBA TV).

After a rocky start to the summer league, Jovic rebounded big in Tuesday’s win with a game-high 25 points on 9-of-16 shooting from the field and 5-of-7 three-pointers and nine rebounds. (six offensive rebounds and three defensive rebounds).

In the Heat’s first two summer league games, the Serbian rookie forward had just nine points on 4-of-14 (28.6%) from the field and 1-of-7 (14.3%) ) three-point shooting, seven rebounds, one assist and two turnovers in 49 minutes.

Jovic (6-11, 223), who was drafted by the Heat with the 27th overall pick, was sharp from the start on Tuesday. He opened the scoring with a catch-and-shoot three, then totaled eight points in a strong second quarter to enter halftime with 11 points on 4-for-8 shooting from the field and 1-for-1 shooting. on three and five rebounds in 14 minutes.

Jovic’s most telling basket in the first half was Dirk Nowitzki’s signature one-legged jumper from 12 feet away midway through the second quarter.

In the second half, Jovic scored 14 points on 4 of 6 shots on three.

But Jovic wasn’t alone, he had plenty of help from his Heat summer league teammates.

Even with two-way contract guard Javonte Smart given the day off, four Heat players finished with double-digit points on Tuesday.

Guard Mychal Mulder, who holds the Heat’s other two-way contract, had 11 points and five rebounds.

Forward Haywood Highsmith, who is currently under contract to be on the Heat’s 15-player roster this upcoming season, contributed 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting from the field and 2-of-6 shooting on three, nine rebounds and five assists. .

Guard Jamaree Bouyea, who was not drafted to San Francisco this year, had 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field, three rebounds and six assists.

Guard Kyle Allman Jr., who was not drafted from Cal State Fullerton in 2019 and spent last season playing away in France, added five points, four rebounds and 10 assists for the Heat.

And a talented backup is now on the way to the Heat’s summer league squad.

Center Omer Yurtseven and guard Marcus Garrett, who both spent time on the Heat’s roster last season, are set to join the team for the Las Vegas Summer League after skipping the California Classic.

Yurtseven was absent from the Heat’s summer squad due to obligations with the Turkish national team as they competed in World Cup qualifying matches. His presence will certainly help summer league team Miami as the only player on the roster to have a fully guaranteed contract with the Heat for this upcoming season.

Yurtseven, who turned 24 last month, was a dominant force for the Heat in last year’s summer league averaging 22.4 points and 11.2 rebounds per game.

Garrett, 23, also played for the Heat in the summer league last year after being drafted from Kansas and impressed enough to earn a two-way deal from the organization. But he was waived in January before undergoing season-ending surgery to repair instability in his right wrist and then stay around the Heat for rehabilitation.

Returning to the Heat for a second straight summer league as a free agent seeking a spot on the NBA roster, Garrett hopes to earn another opportunity with the team for this upcoming season.

ANOTHER QUIET DAY

The Heat have made no moves in free agency since receiving commitments from center Dewayne Dedmon and guard Victor Oladipo to return next season just minutes after free agency opened Thursday night. Miami also lost forward PJ Tucker to the Philadelphia 76ers on the first day of negotiations.

The waiting pattern continued on Tuesday, as the Heat took a patient approach amid ongoing Kevin Durant draws. Durant, who requested a trade from the Brooklyn Nets last week, would have the Phoenix Suns and Heat as two of his favorite trade destinations.

But as the Heat’s free agency hiatus continued, another option to fill the void left by Tucker when the starting forward left the roster on Tuesday. Veteran forward TJ Warren has reportedly agreed to join the Nets on a one-year free agency deal.

Notable forward options that remain available in free agency include Juancho Hernangomez, Paul Millsap, Blake Griffin and Carmelo Anthony, and two of the Heat’s own free agents in Caleb Martin and Markieff Morris.

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 Javonte 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 Morris are unrestricted free agents and Martin is a restricted free agent.

NBA free agents, including Dedmon and Oladpo, can begin signing their new contracts with teams when the free agency moratorium ends at noon Wednesday.

If Martin receives an offer sheet from another team as a restricted free agent, the Heat’s two-day clock to match it would also begin Wednesday when the moratorium ends.

This story was originally published July 5, 2022 4:52 p.m.

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Anthony Chiang covers the Miami Heat for the Miami Herald. He attended the University of Florida and was born and raised in Miami.