If all goes well, this could be Caleb Martin’s last season with the Heat

In advance of the start of training camp on Oct. 3, AllUCanHeat is analyzing the Miami Heat player-by-player. This installment focuses on Caleb Martin, who could be Miami’s most important bench player this season.

Caleb Martin’s story was among the most compelling of the NBA playoffs. Anecdotes about his relationship with rap superstar J. Cole, tryouts for two-way contracts and his twin brother were dropped into seemingly every broadcast during the Miami Heat’s run to the Finals.

Now, that’s old news. The story Martin writes this coming season could be his last in Miami. Martin has a player option for the 2024-25 season and, if he can build on last season’s stretch run, will be up for a raise. The Heat are hoping that’s the case.

Martin’s 2022-23 regular season was underlined by inconsistency, but he stepped up when Miami needed him most. He began the season playing out of position and started 49 games at power forward before the Heat acquired Kevin Love in February.

From then, Martin mostly came off the bench until the Heat needed him to reprise his starting role in the Eastern Conference finals. In Game 7 against the Celtics, Martin scored 26 points on 11 of 16 shooting to go along with 10 rebounds and three assists. It was enough to garner consideration for Eastern Conference finals MVP.

This season, the Heat need Martin to be their most valuable bench player. Even as a potential Damian Lillard trade hangs over the roster, the Heat aim to keep Martin out of a deal because they view him as essential to a championship run.

Martin’s importance stems from his versatility. Listed at 6-foot-5, Martin plays bigger than his measurements and can defend multiple positions. He has also improved his 3-point shooting since joining the Heat in 2021. Since then, he’s made nearly 38% of his 3-point attempts.

Martin can play in lineups alongside Jimmy Butler to form an elite defensive duo or back him up to ensure Miami’s defense doesn’t miss a beat without their star player. He could see minutes at any position from shooting guard, small forward and power forward.

Each season in Miami has led to new career-high marks, and if Martin improves from his averages of 9.6 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists, he could decide to opt out of the final year of his contract worth $7.1 million. If that’s the case, the Heat could have a hard time bringing him back. But that would also mean that Martin had done his job and that the Heat might have gotten closer to their goal of winning a championship.

Caleb Martin

Position: Forward
Ht./Wt.: 6-5/205
College: Nevada
Years pro: 4
2022-23: 9.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists in 29.3 minutes per game
Contract status: Second year of three-year, $20.4 million deal ($6.8 million this season)