The Miami Heat, $18 million over the salary cap and closing in on the luxury tax, hasn't made a lot of noise since the free agent period began at midnight Sunday.
But at least the one player the Heat did add to its 15-man roster — former two-way player Derrick Jones Jr. — delivered an encouraging performance in the team's first game of summer league action Monday night.
The 6-7, 200-pound freakishly athletic swingman, whom the Heat rewarded with a two-year minimum-salary deal on Saturday ($1.4 million guaranteed in 2018-19, $1.6 nonguaranteed in 2019-20) after he played in 14 games last season while also splitting time in the G League, showed off a sweet new stroke with his left-handed jump shot.
The 21-year-old finished with a team-leading 24 points, 11 rebounds and made four of five from three-point range in a 79-68 loss to the Golden State Warriors in the California Classic at the Golden 1 Center. His only missed three-point shot was an airball. He also missed four of his 10 free throws.
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The Heat, which plays the second of three games in Sacramento on Tuesday night at 9 against the Lakers, has three players who were with the team last season on the summer league roster.
Center Bam Adebayo, the team’s 2017 first-round pick, had a rough shooting night. He finished with 14 points and 14 rebounds, but was only 3 of 13 from the field. He also was called for seven fouls (players in summer league are allowed up to 10).
Point guard Derrick Walton Jr., who was on a two-way contract last season and was given a qualifying offer for this coming season, was a ghastly 1 of 12 from the field. He finished with five points, five rebounds, five assists and three turnovers.
Miami shot 29.3 percent from the field and 7 of 31 from three-point range.
"I thought our guys really competed, I liked that," Heat summer league coach Eric Glass said. "I thought our defense got better in the second half, we held them to 40 percent, that’s always a goal. I thought Derrick Jones, I told you he had an improved shot, 4 out of 5 is pretty good for him. I liked Bam’s effort, he didn’t have as many shots fall for him. I liked his effort on the glass, defensively."
Jones, the runner-up in the NBA’s 2017 dunk contest (his nickname is Airplane Mode), had a ridiculous two-handed dunk that drew oohs from the crowd in the fourth quarter. But that’s a part of his game he has always had.
Working on his jumper has been a priority for Jones Jr. In 52 NBA games through two seasons, Jones has shot just 20.7 percent (6 of 29) from three-point range and struggled to consistently hit open jump shots.
He appeared in 14 games for the Heat last season, starting eight, and averaged 3.7 points and 2.4 rebounds, while playing 15.1 minutes per game and shooting 38.8 percent from the field but just 18.8 percent (3 for 16 on threes). Miami believes he can become a very good wing defender.
"Even if he didn’t make them tonight his confidence is much better because of the work he’s putting in," Glass said of Jones. "He's put in a lot of hours. He’s seeing the ball go through the net in the practice gym. It’s a little bit different in a game, too. This will help him but he’s got sweat equity and he’s getting confidence from that."