Miami Heat sign Patty Mills, waive developmental project

Here's why the Miami Heat made the move and how Patty Mills can help.

Atlanta Hawks v Miami Heat
Atlanta Hawks v Miami Heat / Megan Briggs/GettyImages

In an effort to bolster a hamstrung guard rotation, the Miami Heat are signing veteran point guard Patty Mills, according to multiple reports.

The Heat will waive second-year guard Dru Smith to make room for Mills on the roster. Mills played 19 games with the Atlanta Hawks this season before agreeing to buyout in February. 

The Miami Heat have completely turned over the point guard position since the beginning of the season and have now added Patty Mills to back up Terry Rozier and Delon Wright.

Mills, 35, played sparingly this season and averaged 2.7 points and 0.7 assists on 37.3% shooting overall. Earlier in his career, he spent 10 seasons with the San Antonio Spurs (2011-2021), where he provided steady minutes off the bench and averaged 9.4 points, 2.4 assists and shot 39% on 3s.

Mills takes the place of Smith, who suffered a season-ending knee injury on an awkward fall in Cleveland during the eighth game of the season. Smith’s contract became fully guaranteed after he was ruled out for the season, so this move will add to the Heat’s payroll and luxury tax bill.

How can Mills help?

Don’t expect much. There was a time when Mills was among the most consistent backup guards in the league but those days are behind him – he has played a total of 59 games over the last two seasons with the Nets and Hawks.

He’s never been a primary facilitator but he’s still capable of knocking down open 3s (career 38.9% on 3s). In Miami’s offense, that’s all he be asked to do if and when he is on the floor.

Where trading for Terry Rozier was aimed at upgrading the point guard spot and signing Delon Wright was intended to add a rotation-caliber ball-handler and point-of-attack defender, signing Mills is meant to address the team’s depth. We’re looking at a break-glass-in-case-of-emergency situation in which the Heat just need another guard on the floor.

What does this mean for Tyler Herro and Josh Richardson?

Herro and Richardson are both ruled out for Tuesday night’s game against the Detroit Pistons and there is no timetable for their return. 

One could read the surprising signing of Mills as an indication that Herro, who missed three games with a hyperextended knee before sitting out Saturday's win over the Utah Jazz with right foot soreness, might be out longer than initially expected. 

Richardson has not played since exiting Miami’s Feb. 11 loss to the Boston Celtics with a dislocated right shoulder.

Even with both Herro and Richardson out, Mills doesn’t figure to factor into the planned rotation. The Heat still have Rozier, Wright and Duncan Robinson, but they are an injury away from being dangerously thin at the position. Hence the signing of Mills.