Heat’s $90 Million Sharpshooter Benched: Is the Move Permanent?

Duncan Robinson

Getty Duncan Robinson #55 of the Miami Heat looks on during the second half of a game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on November 10, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.

It feels like it’s been years since the Miami Heat‘s roster was at full strength, but the team is slowly but surely, finally getting their original starting lineup back in order.

While the first half of the season has been challenging for everyone, it’s seemed particularly rough for sharpshooter Duncan Robinson, who’s been struggling to find his rhythm on the court after signing a $90 million contract extension this past summer.

Robinson’s accuracy on long-range shooting has taken a dip from last year, but he’s remained the team’s most reliable, available player — until recently. After starting in all of his 72 appearances last season, and in the Heat’s first 35 games this season, he was forced out after catching COVID-19 in late December.

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Robinson was able to rejoin his team before taking on the Portland Trail Blazers on January 5, but with a minutes restriction. He was then kept out of the starting lineup again during his second game back against the Phoenix Suns.

Coming off the bench, however, the 27-year-old forward has thrived. Over the past two games, he’s scored 39 points while drilling 12-of-22 on threes, which has people wondering if Heat’s head coach Erik Spoelstra will keep him as a reserve player moving forward.

While Spoelstra still calls Robinson “a starter,” he did not specify when or if he will be inserted back into the starting lineup.

“Right now, we are living day to day, where we all should be living,” Spoelstra said, as reported by Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson.

“If you have everybody healthy, you ultimately want to try to get to a consistent rotation. We are not at that point right now. I wouldn’t read too much into anything right now. Different games may call for different things. We will try to communicate as best we can with that. But these are uncommon times right now knowing more depth and talent will be coming back soon.”

Robinson Spoke to the Media About No Longer Being in the Starting Lineup

When asked about this seeming demotion, Robinson answered with a very team-first approach. “It was definitely an adjustment, a little bit,” he said, as reported by Sun Sentinel‘s Ira Winderman. “Honestly, my role is still the same. Once you’re out there, it doesn’t feel really any different. But, yeah, whatever this team needs me to do, I’m happy to do.

“Starting? Great. If it’s coming off the bench? Great. One thing you can count on is I’m going to come in and just let it fly.”

As for his forced extended absence from the team due to COVID-19, “Missing games, I pulled my hair out, not really having any symptoms was a challenge,” Robinson admitted.

Robinson suffered a bout of coronavirus before the start of last season, but he said this round wasn’t nearly as bad.

“This is now the second time I’ve actually had it,” Robinson said. “I had it last year prior to the start of the season. And I got it a lot worse that time. And I think this time having the vaccine and the booster definitely helped me with the symptoms.”

Spoelstra Says the Constantly Shifting Starting Lineups Is ‘Not Easy for Anybody’

Erik Spoelstra

GettyHead coach Erik Spoelstra and Gabe Vincent #2 of the Miami Heat looks on against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center on December 15, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Between over half the team being out with injuries or placed in health and safety protocols, the Heat’s starting lineup has been a revolving door of whoever’s available to play, and new players signed to 10-day contracts under the NBA’s hardship rule.

Somehow, the Heat have managed to keep winning over the past few months and currently sit in third place in the Eastern Conference with a 25-15 record. But it seems Spoelstra’s main goal is to get the original band back together.

“Look, this is not easy,” Spoelstra said of getting Robinson back in the mix. “This entire thing right now to the average fan or anybody else out there, it’s not easy.

“We brought him off the bench, just so we could control his minutes, Spoelstra explained after the Heat’s 123-100 win over the Suns, during which Robinson drilled 8-of-16 on three-pointers.

“We’re just trying to figure this out game by game,” Spoelstra continued. “He’s a starter, but because of last game, we just went with the same lineup. And that’s not easy for anybody, emotionally or mentally.”

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1 year ago

Not a big deal for him not to be a starter. Strus is a better overall player for the first team. Duncan is a defensive liability. Other teams target him as the weak spot. Duncan will get many open shots on 2nd team defenses.
Spo needs to make the right decision for what is best for the team. Yurt needs to be the starter. Everyone plays good with him. He is smooth, calm and collected. He has the potential to be very special NOW.

Starters should be:
Lowery, Strus, Butler, Tucker and Yurtseven

2nd Team:
Hero, Robinson, Martin, Okpala and Adebayo