In preparation for the start of the NBA regular season the next week, the Miami Heat have promoted guard Dru Smith from his two-way contract, added him to the 15-man roster, and made other roster changes.
The NBA minimum for players a club must carry on a regular roster will be met by Smith, who will sign a multi-year deal and take Miami’s 14th roster place. Shams Charania of The Athletic was the first to report on the change.
Positional needs led the Miami Heat to choose point guard Dru Smith over forward Jamal Cain for their 15-man roster.
In the end, need led to the choice to sign Smith over forward Jamal Cain, who performed well in the preseason. Only Kyle Lowry, Tyler Herro, and Josh Richardson are available to handle the ball for the Heat’s backcourt, and they already have a large number of forwards on their roster.
Smith wowed coaches throughout training camp and the preseason. Erik Spoelstra has lately shown his confidence in Smith to start the offense, stating, “He tends to make the appropriate play that the team sees, whether it’s a shooting, a pass, or getting off it early. He can coordinate our team. The majority of it is not really exciting and flies under the radar. However, it’s good stuff.
In four preseason games, Smith had 21 assists, just 12 turnovers, and averages of 6.5 points, 2.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 1.8 steals. He just hit 1 of 8 3-point attempts while shooting 30.3% overall.
In four preseason games, Cain averaged 11.3 points on 54.5% shooting and 8.3 rebounds.
Cole Swider now fills the two-way position left vacant by Smith’s promotion. Swider, a reliable 3-point shooter, had his most notable preseason performance in the Heat’s comeback victory against the Charlotte Hornets in the first game, scoring 17 points. Swider is the third two-way player for the Heat, after Cain and R.J. Hampton.
The Heat’s roster is currently one player shy of the maximum of 15, but due to the luxury tax, the club is only projected to carry 14 players throughout the season. The Heat would owe more than $20 million in luxury taxes for the season with this lineup. An additional standard contract would just increase that cost.
Miami’s choice shouldn’t necessarily be seen as a negative thing for Cain. In reality, the Heat are in a stronger position to keep Cain long-term by retaining him on a two-way contract. The prospect of Smith being lost to another club exists if the Heat decide to renounce his partly guaranteed contract in order to make room for a free agency signing during the current campaign. At any time, Cain may still be changed into a regular agreement.
Additionally, the Heat said that they had released Justin Champagnie and Cheick Diallo. Both are anticipated to sign on with the team’s Sioux Falls G League club.