Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Former Heat prospect strikes deal with Western Conference foe: report

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Like a number of other NBA teams, the Miami Heat has run a number of different players through their two-way roster spots of late. Everyone from Darius Days and Marcus Garrett to Javonte Smart, Mychal Mulder, Haywood Highsmith, Chris Silva, Kyle Guy and even Caleb Martin have held a two-way spot in the last nine months or so.

And while Martin was the big hit story, scoring a full-fledged deal and a role in Erik Spoelstra’s rotation, Smart also did well when given the chance during his brief South Beach run.

Regardless, the Heat decided to enact him earlier this summer. Not only that, the team’s G-League affiliate – the Sioux Falls Skyforce – saw fit to trade his return rights to Birmingham Squadron in exchange for point guard Jared Harper and a pick. So he’s like… really, really gone.

Jump to the present, however, and Smart appears to be knocking on the Association’s door again.

According to a report by Hoops Rumors’ JD Shaw On Thursday, the New Orleans Pelicans have plans to sign Smart to a deal with Exhibit 10.

As of this writing, no official announcement has been made regarding Smart heading to the Big Easy. However, the reported contract would give him a chance to show off his stuff during the training camp, after which he would have an incentive to join Pels’ partner club.

Perhaps not coincidentally, this partner is the squadron mentioned above.

New Orleans would also have the option of converting his deal to a two-way contract. However, the club signed bilateral pacts to both Izaiah Brockington and Dereon Seabron earlier this month.

After impressing the Heat last summer, Smart was tapped as an affiliate player at Skyforce. He then joined the Milwaukee Bucks as a two-way signee before finding his way back into the Heat’s system.

The former LSU star appeared in four games with Miami and averaged 5.0 points, 1.3 rebounds and 0.5 steals while nabbing 44.4% of his attempts from three-point range. He also averaged 21.1 points, 4.6 boards, 3.6 assists and 1.9 steals per outing while at Sioux Falls.

Elsewhere in the wide world of former Heat players, forward KZ Okpala — who spent parts of three seasons with the Heat from 2019-22 — has finally signed his John Hancock with the Sacramento Kings, the team announced Wednesday.

News that the two sides are reaching an agreement was first reported by Yahoo! Sports’ Chris Haynes, who indicated that the 23-year-old will be signed to a two-year deal. That means he’ll likely be fighting for a back-end roster spot in camp.

Miami traded Okpala to the Oklahoma City Thunder (who later released him) in February. This move ended his time in Miami; a tenure sadly marred by injuries. Still, Coach Spo was impressed with his experience with the baller.

“We’ve seen a lot of progress,” Spoelstra told the Sun Sentinel after Okpala was dealt. “And that’s probably the frustrating thing for him, because he wasn’t able to bring as much to the pitch as he would have liked… In terms of his professionalism, his work ethic, his commitment to improve, all those things, we me.” saw it on our doors that he’s really improved.

In his 63 games with the Heat, the 6-foot-8 Okpala averaged 2.8 points and 1.8 rebounds per game.



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