MIAMI -- Nikola Jovic on Monday clarified recent comments made to a Serbian media outlet, telling reporters after Miami Heat practice at Kesaya Center that he is not frustrated with his role or lack of playing time.
“I never guessed it would end up like that but things got kind of told different. Basically what I said is this team is playing great now and, minute-wise, I see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Jovic said. “And this team is playing great, so there’s no point in even playing me right now.”
Jovic was referencing a recent interview with Serbian media outlet, MaxBet Sports. The interview was conducted in Serbian, though translated excerpts went viral on social media over the weekend attributing quotes such as “I kind of feel like I can play and I deserve it,” “I’m being misused” and “I hope that some things will change” to the second-year forward.
“I said a couple of those things but in a different way,” Jovic told Miami-based reporters Monday. “But I’m going to say it again in English so you guys don’t have to translate it and nobody is going to make a big deal out of it because you’ll hear me say it.”
When asked if he’s frustrated with his role, Jovic said emphatically, “No.”
“I want to play and I always say that I will help this team as much as I can,” he continued. “[Saturday night in Brooklyn], I was not playing great but this team is playing great. Before the injuries, we were top three in the East and we should be there. Guys without me are playing unbelievably good and I support them, like last year, they should stay like that.”
Jovic played 17 minutes for a shorthanded Heat team in a loss to the Nets on Saturday night. He recorded one point while missing all three of his shots, six rebounds and five assists. Those marked his most minutes played since Oct. 28. Jovic spent the better part of last week in the G League, where he started three games at center for the Sioux Falls Skyforce.
“In the G League, you know playing-wise, we don’t have a five so I play the five,” Jovic said. “Sometimes it’s not easy to play the things you’re not really good at. Which playing the four, I’d basically be a lot better. That’s basically it.”
Jovic, though listed at 6-foot-10, is not a center by trade but the Skyforce, like many G League teams, lacks a true center to play the position. As the tallest player on the roster, Jovic logs minutes at center. (In general, most teams in the G League play small because 7-footers are hard to come by in the minor leagues. Players with size are typically called up to the NBA clubs.) The Heat recently sent 7-foot, 235-pound Orlando Robinson to the G League, potentially creating a path for Jovic to log minutes at forward when he returns.
But Jovic said playing out of position, though frustrating at times, is also helping him improve “in different ways, which I think I’m doing.”
“It’s not easy but I’m improving in that way,” Jovic said. “It’s not my best abilities but I’m improving. And I’m grateful that I’m playing.
“I really hope the people understand,” he continued. “I hope soon everything is going to come back to normal.”
Jovic was clearly agitated about the weekend’s events when speaking with the media Monday and said when he woke up Sunday morning his phone was blowing up with calls and texts about the quotes that quickly made the rounds on social media.
“I don't want that to happen again,” Jovic said. “When I woke up I felt bad. But it was just the Serbian media. I didn’t know people were translating it and taking it that way. So, yeah, I feel sorry. I’m going to talk to the coaching staff and tell them that they know I would never say something like that. So, I’m cool.”