The Miami Heat have added guard Dru Smith to the 15-man roster, promoting him from his two-way contract, and made other roster moves ahead of the start the NBA regular season next week.
Smith will sign a multi-year contract and fill Miami’s 14th roster spot, meeting the NBA minimum for players a team must carry on the standard roster. The move was first reported by The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
The Miami Heat’s decision to sign point guard Dru Smith over forward Jamal Cain to the 15-man roster comes down to positional need.
The decision to sign Smith over forward Jamal Cain, who impressed in the preseason, ultimately came down to need. The Heat are thin in the backcourt with only Kyle Lowry, Tyler Herro and Josh Richardson available as ball-handlers; and they have an abundance of forwards already on the roster.
Coaches have been impressed with Smith in training camp and the preseason. Erik Spoelstra trusts Smith to initiate offense, saying recently, “He tends to make the right play that the team sees, whether it’s a shot, a pass or getting off it early. He can get our group organized. A lot of it is really under the radar, it’s not spectacular stuff. But it’s winning stuff.”
Smith tallied 21 assists and just 12 turnovers in four preseason games while posting averages 6.5 points, 2.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.8 steals. He shot 30.3% overall and made just 1 of 8 3-pointers.
Cain averaged 11.3 points on 54.5% shooting and 8.3 rebounds in four preseason games.
Smith’s promotion vacated a two-way spot that is filled by Cole Swider. A knock-down 3-point shooter, Swider’s most memorable preseason moment came in the opener when he scored 17 points in the Heat’s fourth-quarter comeback win over the Charlotte Hornets. Swider joins Cain and R.J. Hampton as the Heat’s two-way players.
The Heat’s roster stands at one short of the maximum 15, but the team is expected to carry 14 players for the season because of the luxury tax. With this group, the Heat would owe more than $20 million in luxury taxes for the season. A 15th standard contract would only add to that bill.
Miami’s decision shouldn’t necessarily be considered a blight on Cain. In fact, by keeping Cain on a two-way deal, the Heat are better positioned to retain him long-term. Should the Heat want to sign a free agent during the season, they would likely waive Smith’s partially guaranteed contract to create the roster spot, thus exposing Smith to waivers and creating the possibility of losing him to another team. Cain, meanwhile, can still be converted to a standard deal at any point.
The Heat also announced that they have waived Justin Champagnie and Cheick Diallo. Both are expected to join the team’s G League affiliate in Sioux Falls.