Miami Heat forward Jamal Cain made a strong case to be promoted from his two-way contract to the 15-man roster.
In the Heat’s 120-104 preseason loss to the Spurs Friday, the Heat were without most of their key players and No. 1 pick Victor Wembanyama put on a show in front of the San Antonio crowd in his first home game, going for 23 points on 10 for 15 shooting, four rebounds, four assists and three blocks.
But it was Cain who was the game’s leading scorer. Cain finished with 24 points on a tidy 9 for 14 shooting (6 of 8 on 3-pointers) and 10 rebounds in 27 minutes.
Jamal Cain had hoped to get his two-way contract converted to a standard deal. His performance on Friday night might convince the Miami Heat to promote him.
Cain, who got the starting nod alongside Dru Smith, Duncan Robinson, Haywood Highsmith and Thomas Bryant, opened the night by making his first three 3-pointers and tallying 11 points and four rebounds in the first quarter.
Perhaps no Heat player has more at stake this preseason than Cain, who hopes to have his two-way deal converted to a standard contract just as Miami did with Orlando Robinson who, like Cain, spent last season on a two-way contract.
The Heat challenged Cain, 24, to show more in training camp and the preseason. Against the Hornets Monday, Cain did not attempt a shot in six minutes but did make an impact defensively late in the Heat’s comeback win. The Heat outscored the Hornets by 11 with Cain on the court in their preseason opener.
But Friday was Cain’s statement, and he remains a strong contender for the Heat’s 14th roster spot. Other in-house candidates include Smith (13 points, three assists and five turnovers in 26 minutes Friday) and Cole Swider (11 points on 3 of 14 shooting after his 17-point, fourth-quarter eruption against Charlotte).
A player with Cain’s experience could go from making over $500,000 to $1.8 million if converted to a standard contract. Teams can switch out players on two-way contracts at any time without impacting their salary cap.