Are Justin Hamilton’s Days With the Miami Heat Numbered?


Wednesday is the deadline to waive players without fully guaranteed contracts. For Justin Hamilton, it could be his last day with the Miami Heat.

This Saturday, all non-guaranteed contracts in the NBA become guaranteed. That means 5 p.m. Wednesday (to account for the league’s two-day waiver period) is the deadline to waive players who teams do not want to fully guarantee.

For Justin Hamilton, already guaranteed 75 percent of his $816,000 contract, it could be his last day with the Miami Heat.

Hamilton’s missed seven-straight games with concussion-like symptoms. During that time, fellow bigman Hassan Whiteside (who is also working on a non-guaranteed deal) has blossomed into a key part of the rotation and fan favorite.

The Heat have also gone to a new starting lineup, which has led to a substitution pattern more kin to a traditional lineup–with Chris Andersen starting at center and Chris Bosh moving to power forward. With that, a traditional 7-footer like Whiteside fits in better than Hamilton.

J-Ham, with his ability to step outside and shoot, had been played alongside Udonis Haslem at the 4 before suffering his injury.

But with the new rotation Shawne Williams, who had been lighting it up from beyond the arc, has had a hard time getting on the court. He figures higher in the rotation than Hamilton.

Hamilton has been rendered expendable and, between him, Whiteside and Andre Dawkins, seems the most at risk of losing his job.

However the South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Ira Winderman throws this wrench into the system.

"The Heat are scheduled to fly at midday Wednesday in advance of Thursday’s start of their five-game trip against the Portland Trail Blazers, meaning they likely will be in the air at the guarantee waiver deadline."

However, Hamilton’s not been traveling with the team due to his symptoms. If the Heat plan on waiving him, they could write it off as him being inactive due to his concussion.

Letting Hamilton go would open up a roster spot, which the Heat could either (1) sign an immediate contributor with or (2) use strategically to stash a D-League prospect. And, remember, the Heat have the $2.65 million disabled player exception to work with.

My money would go on the latter. With Khem Birch, Tyler Johnson and Larry Drew II thriving with the Sioux Falls Skyforce, the Heat may want to lock one of them up with a 10-day contract when they become available Tuesday.

That may be smart since, as Chris Reichert of is hearing, Birch is a prime candidate to get a call-up this season.

Losing Birch who, of all accounts, has a potentially bright NBA future, would be a couple notches below devastating.

If the team senses some sniffing around its other D-League prospects–such as Johnson or Drew–it could waive Dawkins and sing one of them to a 10-day deal. Teams can sign players to a maximum of two 10-day contracts per season before they have to sign them for the balance of the season or move on.

There is always the chance that someone who could contribute becomes available on the waiver wire. In that case, the Heat could open up to two roster spots (since Whiteside isn’t going anywhere).

So the Heat will have some thinking to do regarding the last few spots of their roster, and they will have to play it strategically.

Next: Heat Check Podcast: Looking at the Whiteside of Life