It could become hard to hear behind all the noise of NBA free agency, but there will be sneakers squeaking on basketball courts in Orlando and Las Vegas in the coming weeks and a team representing the Miami Heat in summer league action.
For Heat assistant Chris Quinn, who entered the NBA as an undrafted free agent with the Heat in 2006 and who joined the organization as a assistant coach in 2014 with the Sioux Falls Skyforce, it’s going to be the first time since he traded in his basketball uniform for a suit he’ll be calling the shots on the sidelines.
“It’s exciting for me, individually, and also a huge responsibility,” Quinn said Wednesday after the Heat held the first of three summer league practices at AmericanAirlines Arena. “Summer league is not something we take lightly. Obviously we have a couple of guys on our roster, a first-round draft pick. But for everyone on our roster it’s an extremely important time of their lives and we’re trying to develop and grow and get everyone better, players and staff.”
The Heat’s summer league squad, coached by assistant Juwan Howard last season (he’s an assistant this year), features first round pick Bam Adebayo, second-year forward Okaro White (the only player with NBA experience on the team) and a cast full of undrafted players who are either fresh out of college or played overseas last season.
Former BYU center Erik Mika (6-10, 230) is the highest-rated (No. 82 prospect) among the undrafted players according to NBA Draft Express.
Guard Gian Clavell, a Puerto Rico native who moved to Miami when he was 16 and led Hialeah Gardens High to a state title in 2012, is also on the roster. Clavell, the Mountain West Player of the Year last year, was arrested twice in a 16-month span (July 2015 and Nov. 2016) and charged with domestic violence by his former girlfriend, a track athlete, at Colorado State University.
Both times, however, the charges were dropped. A Heat spokesman said the team did its due diligence investigating the situation before signing Clavell to its summer league roster.
“I’m just happy that they believe in me and gave me the opportunity to come here,” Clavell said Wednesday. “Of course, that situation, we have to move past it. I learned from it. I didn’t touch the girl at all. Just move forward, learn and just keep going.”
The Heat will open summer league play in Orlando Saturday at 11 a.m. against the Hornets and play against the Magic, Pacers and Pistons over the next three days. The championship round is July 6. All games in Orlando are closed to the public.
Miami then travels to Las Vegas, where games are open to the public, and plays its first game July 8 at 8 p.m. against the San Antonio Spurs. All teams in Las Vegas play a minimum of five games. So, the Heat will end up playing at least 10 games this summer.
Wednesday, 14-year veteran and team captain Udonis Haslem, a free agent starting Saturday, spoke to the summer league team and watched practice. Haslem’s journey from being an undrafted free agent who played overseas to becoming the franchise’s all-time leader in rebounds is the team’s greatest example of how the Heat has taken a low profile player and developed them into much more.
“He was a guy I watched growing up and just loved how he was a total dog out there,” Mika said of Haslem. “It didn’t matter who he was guarding, where they were playing, the circumstances, he just went out and gave it his all. I think there’s not a lot of guys that went undrafted that had a heckuva career. He’s one of them. The Heat do a really good job with guys like that. It certainly played a factor [in me signing with Miami]. When they said they were interested in me I told them right away I was interested in them because they develop guys, polish guys and they see things that maybe stat sheets or some scouts don’t recognize. For whatever reason they are good at what they do.”
Quinn is another one of those examples. Undrafted out of Notre Dame, he played for then assistant coach Erik Spoelstra during the 2006 summer league season and eventually landed a spot on the Heat roster under then coach Pat Riley. Quinn spent 3 1/2 years with the organization as a player before moving on to play with the Nets, Spurs and Cavaliers.
Quinn participated in two summer leagues with the Heat and also played in the NBA’s Development League and overseas in Russia and Spain.
“The first [summer league season], I’m sure you guys can look it up faster than me, but my stats wouldn’t be great,” he said. “Second year, they probably were a lot better.
“I think you develop a level of grit [playing in summer league]. For me, as an undrafted free agent, you had to fight and claw your way through. There’s other examples of it. You might not play a game. You might not play as many minutes as you want. There’s a lot of things going through your head. Maybe your agent’s calling. Maybe other people are telling you you should be playing more, or you should switch to a different team. There has to be a level of grit that you’re going to stick to it and believe in yourself and find a way.”
MIAMI HEAT SUMMER LEAGUE ROSTER
Bam Adebayo, C/F, 6-10, 245, Kentucky
Zach Auguste, F/C, 6-10, 240, Notre Dame
Gian Clavell, G, 6-4, 185, Colorado State
Zak Irvin, F, 6-6, 215, Michigan
Eric Mika, C, 6-10, 230, BYU
Lamond Murray Jr., F, 6-5, 200, Pepperdine
Jake Odum, G, 6-4, 180, Indiana State
Norvel Pelle, C, 6-11, 210, Varese (Italy)
London Perrantes, G, 6-2, 197, Virginia
Justin Robinson, G, 5-8, 175, Monmouth
Sebastian Saiz, F, 6-9, 240, Ole Miss
Okaro White, F, 6-8, 215, Florida State
Matt Williams, G, 6-5, 210, University of Central Florida
MIAMI HEAT SUMMER LEAGUE SCHEDULE
Saturday: vs. Hornets, 11 a.m. (NBA TV)
Sunday: vs. Magic, 3 p.m. (NBA TV)
Monday: vs. Pacers, 5 p.m. (NBA TV)
Tuesday: vs. Pistons, 5 p.m. (NBA TV)
July 6: Championship round
July 7: Off
July 8: vs. Spurs, 8 p.m. (ESPNU)
July 9: Off
July 10: vs. Wizards, 4:30 p.m. (NBA TV)
July 11: vs. Mavericks, 8 p.m. (NBA TV)
July 12-17: Playoffs