Friday, January 21, 2022

Miami Heat star could be ‘in play’ at close: Insider

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Now officially halfway through the NBA season, the Miami Heat have managed to weather some pretty tough circumstances and thrive, coping with a surge of COVID-19 among their players and significant injuries to stars Bam Adebayo (23 games) and Jimmy have overcome Butler (18 games).

They’ve succeeded thanks to the emergence of some unlikely heroes, including two-way forward Caleb Martin, sophomore Big Man Omer Yurtseven, reserve guard Gabe Vincent and Wing Max Strus. These were supposed to be backseat players, but all shone as they grounded, allowing for the Heat’s impressive 26-15 start.

One guy who didn’t quite work out as expected: sniper wing Duncan Robinson, who was handed a five-year, $90 million deal during the offseason. Robinson has slipped from 13.1 points per game to 12.1 points per game, with his 3-point shooting going from 40.8% last year (it was 44.6% last year) to 35.7% this year year has fallen.

And according to Sun-Sentinel team insider Ira Winderman, that could make Robinson a trade chip as we near the NBA trade deadline.

Winderman wrote this week that shooting Strus, who was making 42.0% of his 3-point attempts at 6.3 attempts per game, would expose Robinson.

“With the emergence of Strus,” Winderman wrote, “an argument could be made to bring Robinson’s $15.7 million salary into play. But only if a major deal was deemed necessary. Otherwise it’s better to save that salary for the next big deal that comes when/when a big deal is needed.”

That’s a big “if”. Indeed, with the Heat sitting in third place in the conference, just two games behind the east-leading Bulls and still waiting for Adebayo’s return from thumb surgery, Miami doesn’t seem in need of a big deal. Just getting healthy would go a long way towards putting the Heat at the top of the conference.

That being said, there’s reason to believe that Robinson is on track to pull himself out of what started out as a bad slump (10.4 points, 31.8% 3-point shooting in his first 22 games) and into inconsistency. Robinson had some strong performances in December but struggled to put together a good series of games.

He’s looked significantly better in his last four games, which have been interrupted by a stint on the list of COVID-19 health and safety protocols. He has averaged 19.8 points on 50.0% shooting and 47.9% 3-point shooting despite coming off the bench in the last three of those games.

Miami coach Erik Spoelstra has long praised the impact Robinson has on the team even when he’s not shooting. Because he’s such an established threat as a 3-point shooter, Robinson draws attention even when he’s not shooting.

Even so, Robinson says he’s fine with being a reserve.

“Whatever this team asks of me,” said Robinson. “I’m not stubborn or stubborn – I have to have this role or whatever. I’m open to anything that contributes to winning.”

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