Former Heat Prospect Lands Contract With Western Conference Foe: Report

Javonte Smart Heat

Getty Javonte Smart poses for a photo during the Miami Heat's 2021 media day.

Like a number of other NBA teams, the Miami Heat have cycled a number of different players through their two-way roster spots recently. Everyone from Darius Days and Marcus Garrett to Javonte Smart, Mychal Mulder, Haywood Highsmith, Chris Silva, Kyle Guy and even Caleb Martin has held down a two-way spot in the last nine months or so.

And while Martin was the big success story, netting a fully-fledged deal and a role in Erik Spoelstra’s rotation, Smart acquitted himself well when given the chance during his brief South Beach run, too.

Regardless, the Heat elected to waive him earlier this summer. Not only that, the team’s G League affiliate — the Sioux Falls Skyforce — saw fit to trade his returning player rights to the Birmingham Squadron in exchange for point guard Jared Harper and a pick. So, he’s like… really, really gone.

Flash forward to now, though, and Smart appears to be knocking at the Association’s door once again.

Smart to Join New Orleans Pelicans for Camp

Per a report from Hoops Rumors’ JD Shaw on Thursday, the New Orleans Pelicans have designs on signing Smart to an Exhibit 10 deal.

As of this writing, no official announcement has been made regarding Smart heading to the Big Easy. However, the reported contract would give him an opportunity to strut his stuff during training camp, after which he’d be incentivized to join the Pels’ affiliate club.

Perhaps not coincidentally, that affiliate is the aforementioned Squadron.

New Orleans would also have the option of converting his deal to a two-way. However, the club signed both Izaiah Brockington and Dereon Seabron to two-way pacts earlier this month.

After impressing the Heat last summer, Smart was tapped as an affiliate player with the Skyforce. He went on to join the Milwaukee Bucks as a two-way signee before finding his way back into the Heat’s system.

The former LSU standout appeared in four games with Miami, averaging 5.0 points, 1.3 rebounds and 0.5 steals while knocking down 44.4% of his attempts from three-point range. He also averaged 21.1 points, 4.6 boards, 3.6 assists and 1.9 steals per outing during his time in Sioux Falls.

Okpala Finally Signs His New Deal in Sacto

Elsewhere in the wide world of former Heat players, forward KZ Okpala — who spent parts of three seasons with the Heat from 2019-22 — has finally put his John Hancock on a deal with the Sacramento Kings, the team announced on Wednesday.

News of the two sides coming to an agreement was first reported way back in mid-July by Yahoo! Sports’ Chris Haynes, who indicated that the 23-year-old was getting a two-year deal. That said, he’ll likely find himself fighting for a back-end roster spot in camp.

Miami traded Okpala to the Oklahoma City Thunder (who later released him) in February. That move brought to an end his time in Miami; a tenure that was unfortunately marred by injuries. Nevertheless, Coach Spo was left impressed by his experience with the baller.

“We saw a lot of progress,” Spoelstra told the Sun Sentinel after Okpala was dealt. “And that’s probably the frustrating thing for him, because he wasn’t able to get on the court as much as he would have liked… In terms of his professionalism, his work ethic, his commitment to improve, all of those things, we saw it in our doors, that he really improved.”

In his 63 games with the Heat, the 6-foot-8 Okpala averaged 2.8 points and 1.8 rebounds per game.

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