Now officially at the halfway point of the NBA season, the Miami Heat have managed to both survive and thrive through some pretty difficult circumstances, overcoming a wave of COVID-19 among its players and significant injuries to stars Bam Adebayo (23 games) and Jimmy Butler (18 games).
They’ve been able to do so thanks to the emergence of some unlikely heroes, including two-way forward Caleb Martin, second-year big man Omer Yurtseven, reserve guard Gabe Vincent and wing Max Strus. These were expected to be back-bench players but all have shone when given some run on the floor, enabling the Heat’s impressive 26-15 start.
One guy who has not quite produced as expected: sharpshooting wing Duncan Robinson, who was given a five-year, $90 million contract in the offseason. Robinson has seen his scoring slip from 13.1 points per game to 12.1 points, with his 3-point shooting dropping from 40.8% last year (it was 44.6% the previous year) to 35.7% this year.
And, according to team insider Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel, that could make Robinson a trade chip as we approach the NBA trade deadline.
Max Strus Could Make Robinson Expendable
Writing this week, Winderman suggested that the shooting of Strus, who has made 42.0% of his 3-point tries on 6.3 attempts per game, would make Robinson available.
“With the emergence of Strus,” Winderman wrote, “an argument could be made for putting Robinson’s $15.7 million salary into play. But that only would be if a major deal were to be deemed necessary. Otherwise, such a salary would be better saved for the next big deal that comes along, if/when a big deal is needed.”
That is a big “if.” Indeed, with the Heat sitting at third in the conference, just two games behind the East-leading Bulls and still waiting on Adebayo’s return from thumb surgery, Miami does not appear to be much in need of a major deal. Simply getting healthy would go a long way toward the Heat making a run at the top seed in the conference.
Robinson Has Been Shooting Well Lately
Besides which, there is reason to believe that Robinson is on his way toward pulling himself out of what began as a bad slump (10.4 points, 31.8% 3-point shooting in his first 22 games) and morphed into inconsistency. Robinson had some strong showings in December, but struggled to put a string of good games together.
He has looked significantly better in his last four games, which were interrupted by a stint on the COVID-19 health and safety protocols list. He’s averaged 19.8 points on 50.0% shooting, 47.9% 3-point shooting, even as he has been coming off the bench for the last three of those games.
Miami coach Erik Spoelstra has long lauded the impact that Robinson has on the team, even when he is not making shots—because he is such a well-established threat as a 3-point shooter, Robinson gets attention even when he is not making shots.
Still, Robinson says he is OK with being a reserve.
“Whatever this team needs me to do,” Robinson said. “I’m not stubborn or hard headed — I got to have this role, or whatever. I’m open to whatever contributes to winning.”