Since December, Haywood Highsmith has signed two 10-day hardship contracts with the Miami Heat, and despite any explosive performances, the team must’ve loved what they saw in the 6-foot-4 forward/guard.
While the contract is not yet inked, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news on Monday, March 7, that the 25-year-old will be remaining in South Beach for the foreseeable future.
“The Miami Heat are signing guard Haywood Highsmith to a three-year deal, his agent Jerry Dianis tells ESPN,” Woj tweeted. “Highsmith had three 10-day contracts with Heat this season. New deal includes team options.”
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Highsmith, who went undrafted of Wheeling University, a Division II school, in 2018, appeared in four games with the Heat back in December and January. The 25-year-old was signed to two emergency 10-day contracts while Miami’s regular was depleted due to health and safety protocols, and injuries.
The report of Haywood’s contract came as a huge surprise for Heat fans, and the news received mixed reactions on Twitter. “I respectfully haven’t seen the hype the Heat see in him,” one man tweeted, while another person shared a screenshot of his recent stats and wrote, “Am i missing something? Obv box score isn’t everything but like what is he doing to impact the games?”
In nine appearances with the Heat, Highsmith has averaged 10 minutes per game off the bench while averaging 2.7 points and 1.6 rebounds.
In between his stints in Miami, Highsmith returned to playing with the Delaware Blue Coats, the G League affiliate of the Philadelphia 76ers. Over 17 games with the Blue Coats, the small forward has averaged 13.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and one block.
Not everyone saw the Heat’s commitment to Highsmith as a bad deal, exuding Heat Culture with a “trust the process” type of reaction. “Clearly they know more than you cuz they see him every day and we’ve only seen him in limited minutes,” one man tweeted, defending the Heat’s signing.
Another fan tweeted, “Either trade asset or we turning him into the next Paul George and I refuse to accept anything in between 😂😂.”
There Were ‘No Intriguing Options on the Buyout Market’
After Highsmith signed his second 10-day hardship contract with the Heat, he was largely considered to be a placeholder, offering Miami the flexibility to wait and see which players become available in the buyout market. There was also speculation that Highsmith was in line to sign a two-way contract after elevating Caleb Martin, but that offer went to Javonte Smart.
For those confused as to why the Heat would sign Highsmith to a multi-year contract, Miami Herald’s Anthony Chiang offered some insight. “The Heat opts to fill its final roster spot with a developmental prospect, with no real intriguing options becoming available on the buyout market,” Chiang tweeted.
Heat’s P.J. Tucker has already taken Highsmith under his wing. “I just try to give him pointers,” Tucker said. “That’s what it’s about. Helping each other out, teaching each other. He’s a guy trying to build his career and break into the rotation and be one of the guys. Just real little stuff to help him along the way because he’s already a good player.”
Signing Highsmith Means the Heat ‘Expect Markieff Morris Back’
Sun Sentinel’s Ira Winderman also offered interesting insight as to why the Heat would commit to Highsmith. “By signing Haywood Highsmith rather than a veteran free-agent power forward, it is another sign that the Heat expect Markieff Morris back,” Winderman tweeted.
Morris hasn’t played since taking a blindside hit to the back from Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic on November 8. While the Heat have remained tight-lipped about his return timetable, by signing an insurance player rather than a starting-caliber forward, it seems to signal Miami expects the 32-year-old veteran to be back in action before the postseason.