Heat’s G League Star Ditches Team, Signs With Conference Rival

Javonte Smart

@javontesmart/Instagram Sioux Falls Skyforce guard Javonte Smart, who was a star during Miami Heat's summer league, signs with the Milwaukee Bucks.

When the Miami Heat picked up Caleb Martin during free agency and signed him to a two-way contract, it was an unexpected move that left the team with just one more available slot for a two-way player, a role that ultimately went to Marcus Garrett.

Therefore, guard Javonte Smart, who went undrafted out of LSU, and became one of the standout players from the Heat’s summer league, was relegated to Miami’s G League, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, where he’s been performing at a star level.

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In five games with the Skyforce, the 22-year-old averaged 22 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 3.6 assists in 35.5 minutes per game, while shooting 49.4% from the field and 39.6% from beyond the arc.

Smart’s performance must’ve caught the attention of the Milwaukee Bucks. On November 30, the Heat’s Eastern conference rival announced they successfully poached the young guard, and were signing him to a two-way contract.

The LSU alum performed way better while playing in the G League than he did during the Heat’s preseason games. During his five appearances, he averaged 8.8 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 1.6 assists in 18.1 minutes per game.

Smart Will Replace Bucks’ Guard Justin Robinson

The 2021 Second Team All-SEC selection was a star player at LSU, where he averaged 16 points, 4.0 assists, 3.7 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per game during his senior year. He also led the SEC in three-point field goal percentage.

Smart, who will wear a No. 6 jersey with the Bucks, will be replacing guard Justin Robinson, who had signed a two-way contract with Milwaukee on September 15. During his 17 appearances with the Bucks, Robinson failed to live up to expectations, averaging just 2.8 points and 1.2 assists in 11.6 minutes per game.

Fans Want Martin to Be Elevated to the Main Roster

It wasn’t clear how much playing time Martin would see with the Heat, as the former Mountain West Player of the Year has had an uneven NBA career thus far. After nailing 54.1% on threes during his rookie season, he shot just 24.8% from deep last year.

Under a two-way contract agreement, Martin can be on the Heat’s active roster for 50 of the season’s 82 games, while also developing with the G-League’s Sioux Falls Skyforce. However, Martin has become a permanent part of the Heat’s rotation, and head coach Erik Spoelstra has already used him in 19 games thus far this season.

On November 19, with Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, and Markieff Morris ruled out against the Denver Nuggets, Martin got his first official start with the Heat, and he made the most of it, scoring 18 points with four rebounds.

Ultimately, there are two reasons why the Heat hasn’t signed the 26-year-old to a regular contract.

The first reason is money. The Heat are just $450,000 under the salary cap and elevating Martin to a standard contract would require the team to get hit by the ominous luxury tax… which leads us to the second reason.

If Miami is going to go over the salary cap, they will likely only do so to add a major player before the trade deadline. Miami still has one final open spot on their roster, but it’s likely that Heat president Pat Riley is waiting to see who becomes available before giving it to Martin.

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