With Miami Heat forward Caleb Martin still sidelined due to COVID-19, and a dwindling roster ailed with various injuries, the franchise made their first coronavirus-related personnel of the 2021-22 NBA season on Tuesday, signing Zylan Cheatham to an emergency 10-day contract.
Cheatham was plucked by the Heat from the New Orlean’s G Leauge affiliate, as first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. the Birmingham Squadron. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound forward, who initially went undrafted out of San Diego and Arizona State, is absolutely crushing it with Birmingham this season.
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The 26-year-old has averaged 14.2 points, 10.4 rebounds, 1.2 steals, and 1.8 assists per game, as reported by Miami Herald‘s Anthony Chiang. Cheatham is shooting 49.1% from the field and 42.9% from the arc.
NBA Draft analyst Jonathon Givony is excited to see what Cheatham provides during his opportunity with the Heat. He “has really turned himself into a reliable shooter (42% 3P%), can really pass, versatile defender and plays extremely hard,” Givony tweeted. “Looks en route to a callup based on what I’ve seen in Vegas.”
It remains unclear whether or not Cheatham will be cleared in time to join the Heat for their upcoming home game against the Indiana Pacers at 7:30 p.m. at the FTX Arena.
Cheatam’s Contract Can Be Terminated as Soon as Martin Returns
Because the Heat only has one player out due to COVID-19, Miami was not required to add an emergency player, but the NBA’s newly amended rules allow the team to add Cheatham without his salary impacting the salary cap or luxury tax.
It’s a good move for the Heat considering how many members of their roster are out with injuries: Jimmy Butler (tailbone), P.J. Tucker (left knee), Bam Adebayo (torn UCL in hand), Tyler Herro (quad contusion), Markieff Morris (whiplash), and Victor Oladipo, the latter of whom yet to play a game this season after undergoing surgery last May.
Any replacement player a team adds must complement the roster member that’s been placed on Reserve/COVID-19 list. Because Martin is on a two-way contract, Miami could only select a player with three or fewer NBA seasons under his belt to replace him.
Cheatham’s appeared in four games with the New Orleans Pelicans during the 2019-2020 NBA season, during which he scored 12 points, shooting 6-of-9 from the field, 0-1 on threes, nine rebounds, and three assists. Funnily enough, Cheatham’s first game as a member of the Pelicans on November 19, 2019, was against the Heat (Miami won.)
However, once Martin is out of protocols and is cleared to resume basketball activities, Cheatham’s contract with the Heat will be terminated even if it’s before his 10-day clock has expired.
NBA Analysts are Excited to See What Cheatham Can Provide With the Heat
While it may be only temporary, Cheatham’s signing on Tuesday was met with across-the-board excitement from NBA analysts.
Five Reasons Sports Network tweeted, “Excited to see Zylan Cheatham become a rotation player for the Heat so @hottakeharry can argue the franchise messed up by not trading him for a second round pick when it had the chance.”