If there was a hierarchy of current Heat players who would be sent away if Miami went through with a trade for Damian Lillard, guard Tyler Herro would be at the top of the list. But No. 2 probably would be second-year forward Nikola Jovic, who was the No. 27 pick in the 2022 draft by the Heat. Miami is building a win-now roster, and Jovic is one of the few young assets they could put into a potential deal.
Jovic would, no doubt, get more playing time if he were to land in Portland. But he does not necessarily want to be dumped off in a Lillard trade.
“It’s basketball,” he told Sportal.gr (via Google Translate) while preparing with Serbia for the 2023 FIBA World Cup. “Whether I’m in Miami or somewhere else, I feel like I have a lot to learn. Of course, I would like to be in Miami. These guys are great and they helped me a lot in my rookie season and I would like to stay with them and continue to grow as a basketball player and as a person because they are incredible people. Whatever will be, will be. I hope to stay there. That’s all.”
Jovic Has Added Weight This Year
Jovic played in 15 games as a rookie last season, and averaged 5.5 points and 2.1 rebounds. He made eight starts early in the year and was clearly overmatched, shooting just 39.3% from the field and 22.2% from the 3-point line in those games.
He needs a better understanding of the game but, physically, he still needs to mature. He was 6-foot-10 but was listed at just 209 pounds last season. He has grown to 6-foot-11 and was listed at 225 pounds in Summer League.
“You can see that my game has changed a lot in the summer ,” Jovic said. “I’ve added weight to my body, I’m trying to be as productive as I can. Maybe I don’t have that many shots in set play, but in transition I can do a lot to help the team in every situation. I want to do a good job.”
He credited the mentality of Jimmy Butler as an influence in his rookie season.
“His mindset in the way he works has helped me a lot,” Jovic said. “He is one of the players who work hard all the time. Every time he’s on the court he gives 100% and that’s something I want to get from him.”
Jovic Could See Time for Serbia
Serbia’s chances for a medal at the World Cup took a hit this summer when NBA Finals MVP Nikola Jokic decided not to play as he recovers from Denver’s long championship run. Losing Thunder signee Vasilije Micic, who also wants to get ready for the NBA season, further hurt their chances. The Draft Kings Sportsbook lists Serbia as the No. 7 favorite to win gold at the World Cup.
Atlanta’s Bogdan Bogdanovic will be the veteran leader this time around for the Serbs, who also feature Thunder big man Aleksej Pokusevski, former Warrior Nemanja Nedovic and Sixers rookie Filip Petrusev.
But the absence of bigger names could mean an opportunity for Jovic, who was impressive in a warmup against Italy this week, logging 18 points, seven rebounds and three assists. At the very least, it could open the way for Jovic to be sent elsewhere.