Miami Heat Might Have Found Their PJ Tucker Replacement

PJ Tucker Heat-Celtics

Getty Miami Heat forward PJ Tucker reacts during a playoff bout with the Boston Celtics.

The Miami Heat haven’t made too many moves this offseason. Much of Miami’s offseason has been waiting on the shoe to fall around the Kevin Durant and Donovan Mitchell trades. Both the Utah Jazz and Brooklyn Nets are hoping to meet historically high trade demands, and not much traction has been made in their pursuits for either All-Star. If the Heat are unable to land either Mitchell or Durant, they have been reported to possibly look at free agents like Collin Sexton or Montrezl Harrell

However, despite not making too many moves thus far, the Miami Heat have received public praise for one of their re-signings. In an August 12 article from The Ringer, Dan Devine wrote about Miami’s re-signing of Caleb Martin as one of the top-seven under-the-radar deals this season. 

Caleb Martin Re-signing in Miami

On July 6, the Miami Heat agreed to terms to bring back forward Caleb Martin. Martin got an opportunity with the Heat after being invited to a Heat open scrimmage last summer. Rapper J.Cole is actually the one who made the call that got Martin the invite, and Martin quickly made an impression in Miami. The forward earned major rotation minutes for the Heat and averaged 9 points, 3 rebounds, and an assist while shooting 50 percent from the field and 41 percent from the three-point line in his first year in South Beach. 

In Devine’s article, the first player he praised in his list of “under-the-radar” deals this offseason was Martin re-signing in Miami. The Heat lost PJ Tucker to the Philadelphia 76ers and have a hole to fill in their starting lineup, and Devine notes that Martin could be that. 

“That could mean a promotion for Caleb Martin, the 26-year-old who parlayed a two-way contract into a three-year, $20.4 million deal after earning his way into Spo’s rotation by grinding it out on both ends of the court, and who just might be Miami’s best bet at replicating Tucker’s work,” Devine wrote

Why can Martin be the answer for Tucker’s absence in Miami? Devine cites the two players’ stats per 36 minutes. Martin averages 14.5 points per game compared to Tucker’s 9.8 per/36. The two are comparable in rebounds, with Tucker pulling in one more than Martin. The stats are comparable, and Martin would be projected to bring an added scoring impact. Martin stands 6-foot-5 with a 6-foot-10 wingspan and regularly played defense on positions one through four last season and brings a similar versatility as Tucker. Heat head coach Eric Spoelstra applauded Martin as a “swiss army knife” last season and with an added role could contribute immediately in South Beach. 

Martin’s Role in Miami Next Year

Devine made an intriguing case for Martin and his potential impact in the starting role for the Heat. However, Miami would likely prefer to add a proven veteran for that starting spot and keep Martin as a role off the bench. They have been linked to Jae Crowder after rumors he may be unhappy in Phoenix. Haywood Highsmith also has publicly stated his intent to compete for the Tucker minutes. 

Martin proved an ability to step up in the minutes he had in Miami last season. If he were to play starting minutes, he would likely be impressive. He is a highlight of Heat culture and the player development that happens in Miami. He credited the Heat for making him better while noting his best is yet to come. 

 “I feel like I can step in and start. It doesn’t matter what the role is and what a team needs from me, I feel like I can fill that void. My game expanded shooting-wise, being more efficient and consistent … I feel like I took big steps and I feel like I’m only going to take larger steps going forward.” Martin continued

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