After trading KZ Okpala to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Miami Heat‘s roster was down to 13 members, and per NBA rules, they had two weeks to fill in the required 14th spot. On February 14, the Heat announced they re-signing a familiar face, forward Haywood Highsmith.
The Athletic’s Shams Charania was first to break the news on Monday. Charania tweeted, “The Miami Heat are signing forward Haywood Highsmith to a 10-day contract, agent Jerry Dianis told @TheAthletic @Stadium. Highsmith spent time with Miami earlier this season on a hardship 10-day.”
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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.
The 6-foot-4, 220-pound forward, made the most of his time with the Heat. During his first stint, he scored a total of 12 points, shooting 4-of-8 from the field and 4-of-7 on threes over 42 minutes of play, as reported by Miami Herald‘s Anthony Chiang.
After his contract expired with the Heat, Highsmith returned to playing with the Delaware Blue Coats, the G League affiliate of the Philadelphia 76ers. Over his 17 games with the Blue Coats, the small forward has averaged 13.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and one block.
Highsmith Is Likely a Placeholder, Allowing the Heat to Wait & See How the Buyout Market Plays Out
By signing Highsmith to a 10-day contract, the Heat has successfully added insurance to the roster while guard Tyler Herro remains out with a knee contusion, and offers the team flexibility to wait and see which players become available in the buyout market.
“In order for a player to be available for another team’s playoff roster, he must be waived by March 1,” Sun Sentinel‘s Ira Winderman reported. “Such a player then can be signed until the final day of the regular season to be playoff eligible.”
The Heat Could Also Be Waiting to Add Highsmith as a 2-Way Player
The question is not if, but when the Heat will elevate Caleb Martin to a standard contract, and if they like what they see in Highsmith, Miami could sign him to what would be a vacant two-way contract.
The Heat’s other two-way player, Kyle Guy, was signed after putting up standout performances during his time as on an emergency 10-day contract. The NBA created an exception due to COVID-19 which allows teams to sign players to two-way spots at any time throughout the regular season.
Whichever way this shakes out, the signing of Highsmith couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. In addition to Herro being ruled out for Tuesday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks, All-Star Jimmy Butler remains questionable with a strained right shoulder, as is Martin with lingering Achilles issues. Markieff Morris (neck) and Victor Oladipo (knee) remain out.
The Heat have just two more games before the All-Star break commences. Miami faces the Dallas Mavericks at home on Tuesday night before traveling to Charlotte to take on the Hornets on Thursday.