Summer League Defensive Star Rejected Miami Heat Contract Offer: Report

Erik Spoelstra, Miami Heat coach

Getty Erik Spoelstra, Miami Heat coach

Given the Heat’s recent history of turning undrafted finds into long-term NBA role players under developmental master Erik Spoelstra, it comes as a pretty big surprise when a promising young player turns down a chance to luxuriate in the much-vaunted Heat culture, even if only for a little while. Yet it appears that is what Chase Audige, a talented defensive wing from Northwestern, has chosen to do.

From ace Miami Herald reporter Barry Jackson, on Twitter: “Heat broached signing Northwestern rookie Chase Audige to (an) Exhibit 10 contract (training camp invite), but he has opted to take an Exhibit 10 from another team where he has better chance to make roster, per source. So Drew Peterson (and_ Cole Swider remain the two confirmed Heat Exhibit 10s.”

Audige was excellent in Summer League play, where he averaged just 5.4 points in five games, but notched 1.2 steals and impressed with his blanketing defense. Audige, who helped the Wildcats to a Big 10 title and their second-ever NCAA appearance last year as NU went 22-12, was the Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year last season and one of five national finalists for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award.

Audige Would Be a Good Fit in Miami

His profile and approach do seem to fit in with how the Heat operate. Miami likes to identify players who have one NBA-caliber skill, then try to work to round out their games in practices and in the G League. Audige is, no doubt, an NBA-caliber defender, but he posted pretty shabby shooting numbers with the Wildcats, making 36.8% from the field and 32.5% from the 3-point line as a senior.

If Audige can become a consistent—even just an average—3-point shooter, he could have a chance at an NBA career in front of him.

“Honestly, I am just coming out and trying to win at all costs,” Audige said ahead of Summer League. “I am a winner to my soul, to my core, I will do anything to win, whether it is a 3-pointer, diving on the floor or trying to pick up full-court. So, I mean, I just want to add everything to my game and give no excuses or anything to why I can’t be on the court. I can compete at a high level and do what I gotta do to win the game.”

Heat Are Deep at Shooting Guard

But Audige’s trepidation about signing with the Heat probably comes from its depth on the wing. There’s no telling what might happen with the Miami roster given the uncertainty of a potential Damian Lillard trade, but if things fall through on Lillard completely, the Heat will still have Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson and returning veteran Josh Richardson at shooting guard. Caleb Martin is primarily a small forward, but gets significant minutes at shooting guard, too.

Even without Audige, the Heat will have a pair of Exhibit 10 players to check out in camp, as Jackson noted—Cole Swider, who was signed after the Lakers let him go as one of their two-way players, and Drew Peterson, who averaged 13.9 points last year as a fifth-year senior at USC.

Miami has two open roster spots and one spot remaining on its two-way contract ledger.

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