From 12 to 31: How Delon Wright finally ended up playing for the Miami Heat

Here's the story of how Delon Wright ended up signing with the Miami Heat, the team his older brother played for 20 years ago.
Orlando Magic v Washington Wizards
Orlando Magic v Washington Wizards / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages

MIAMI -- Delon Wright was 12 the last time he stepped foot on the Miami Heat’s practice floor.

That was before Wright, 31, went through his first practice since signing with the Heat after agreeing to a buyout with the Washington Wizards during the All-Star break.

Wright, whose older brother Dorell played for the Heat from 2004-2010, used to play at the Heat’s upstairs practice court with the sons of Tim Hardaway, Shaquille O’Neal, Alonzo Mourning and Gary Payton while Heat games were going on downstairs.

“We were just up here playing around, not even watching the game, we were just up here shooting, playing around,” Wright said Thursday. “And to be here now is crazy.”

“It does feel like a full circle,” Spoelstra said. “He has a skillset that fits us. We’re all really familiar with him.”

Wright has been in the NBA for nine seasons and has spent time with Toronto, Memphis, Dallas, Detroit, Sacramento, Atlanta, and Washington, before joining the Heat at this stage of his career. 

As the rebuilding Wizards prioritized giving playing time to younger players, Wright found himself out of the rotation. When he was in town for Udonis Haslem’s retirement ceremony in January, the idea of joining the Heat first came up.

Erik Spoelstra was sitting at the same table with both Wright brothers at a dinner during Haslem’s celebration week when former Heat guard Quentin Richardson (2009-10) approached Spoelstra and said the Heat should trade for Delon before the February deadline.

“Q was the one who brought it up,” Spoelstra said. “He was like, ‘Delon would be a great fit, when is this going to happen?’”

The Heat didn’t make a trade on deadline day but Wright and the Wizards agreed on a buyout soon after. Other teams called with interest, but Delon, with the support of Dorrel, was locked in on Miami.

“Once the buyout opportunity came, we talked about it and were like, ‘Yeah, it’s a no-brainer. It’s time to go,’” Delon said.

Wright’s excitement was evident as he spoke to reporters after his first Heat practice.

“Growing up watching my brother, watching D-Wade, I already knew about Heat culture and what to expect,” Wright said. “So I’m just happy that I’m finally here. Just one of those surreal moments.”

In Miami, Wright will be expected to handle the ball, play defense and make open 3s. It’s a simple role, but one he embraces after toiling on a nine-win Wizards team for most of the season.

“Be the defensive guy, get the other guys involved, and me playing off of them,” Wright said. “Playing two minutes, three minutes on a team that isn’t really trying to win, to now playing for something, I’m definitely re-energized.”

Over the next few days, Wright will study the playbook with assistant coach (and former teammate) Wayne Ellington and familiarize himself with Miami’s terminology. But he’ll also be thrust into playing time right away as the Heat embark on a four-game trip with Terry Rozier (knee sprain) and Josh Richardson (dislocated right shoulder) still recovering from injuries.

Both Rozier and Richardson will travel with the Heat on this upcoming trip, which starts in New Orleans on Friday before stops in Sacramento, Portland and Denver. Spoelstra said there is optimism that one of Rozier or Richardson can play on this trip.

Richardson was seen in a sling after Thursday’s practice while Rozier was not wearing a brace or wrap on his sprained knee.

After barely cracking a losing team’s rotation, Wright will have an opportunity to help the Heat climb the East standings over the final 27 games of the regular season.

“If I wanted to transition in the middle of the season, Miami was the best place to do that – for obvious reasons,” Wright said. “I’m ready to play, I’m ready to compete. I’m just excited. It’s Miami.”