Heat Forward Sends Strong Message About Role Following PJ Tucker Departure

Haywood Highsmith, Victor Oladipo, Dewayne Dedmon

Getty Haywood Highsmith #24, Victor Oladipo #4 and Dewayne Dedmon #21 of the Miami Heat celebrate a three pointer against the Boston Celtics

The Miami Heat were hurt by the loss of key forward PJ Tucker, who elected to leave the Heat for the Philadelphia 76ers in free agency. Tucker signed to a three-year, $33.2 million fully guaranteed deal with Philadelphia this postseason. A decision that Jimmy Butler jokingly took exception to in a hilarious Instagram exchange

Tucker posted a farewell post on Instagram on July 7, a message that Butler soured with his message in the comment section “F*** you and @joelembiid yeah I brought him into this 🤷🏿‍♂️.” While the comment was in jest, the team will certainly miss his contributions. 

Tucker started 70 games for the Heat last season, averaging 7.6 points, 2.1 assists, and 5.5 rebounds. His presence will surely be missed this season. However, one current member of the Heat thinks he can step in and fill Tucker’s role. 

Haywood Highsmith on Filling in for Tucker’s Absence

Current Heat big man Haywood Highsmith talked to the Miami Sun Sentinals Ira Winderman about how he may be able to fill in following Tucker’s departure. 

“I have some of the intangibles P.J. has,” Highsmith, 25, told the Sun-Sentinel. “I’m very versatile on defense, and I like to play defense like him. And we’re both kind of stronger types of guys, can set screens, short rolls, and can get in the paint and make plays. So I think it’s always been in me.

“I can be a power forward. P.J.’s kind of like bigger, but I’m kind of like longer, I would say. So I could see me being a kind of power forward. But I think Miami does a very good job of just making sure we have people that guys can look up to and see ourselves.”

The 6-foot-6 forward has had a strong showing in the California Classic summer league tournament averaging 10.7 points and over 8 rebounds per game. He looks to continue to make an impact and earn himself more minutes in the season to come. 

Other Heat Roster News

Haywood Highsmith is a current player that hopes to fill the roles of PJ Tucker but isn’t the only new face that may find himself in more of Miami’s deeper rotation. Caleb Martin signed a new deal with the Heat for three-years and $20 million. Martin averaged 9 points, 3 rebounds, and an assist while shooting 50 percent from the field and 41 percent from the three-point line last season. 

The Heat also added another big man with the signing of undrafted 7-foot big man Orlando Robinson. Robinson was signed to an exhibit 10 deal on July 7, which is essentially a guaranteed invite to Heat training camp, where he can compete for a full-time roster spot but will likely be moved to their G League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce.

They also signed their newly drafted rookie Nikola Jovic to a deal after selecting him in the first round. Jović was named the 2022 All-Adriatic League Top Prospect of the Year, appeared in 25 games with Mega Basket last season, and averaged 11.7 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.4 assists.

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