Duncan Robinson took an important step forward Monday in his push to make the Heat’s roster.
With Robinson’s contract guarantee jumping from $250,000 to $1 million if he’s not waived by 11:59 p.m. Monday, the Heat decided — as expected — to not waive the 6-8 forward before the deadline, according to a league source. His full salary for this upcoming season is $1.4 million, with the rest of it becoming guaranteed if he’s still on Miami’s roster at midseason.
Robinson, who was one of the Heat’s two-way contract players last season after going undrafted in 2018 out of Michigan, averaged 16.3 points while shooting 42.9 percent from the field and 33.9 percent on threes, 5.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists in seven summer league games. With the goal to prove he’s more than just a three-point shooter, he looked comfortable making plays off the dribble and displayed growth as a rebounder and defender, which were areas the Heat wanted to see improvement in.
“We’re proud of Duncan,” Heat summer league coach Eric Glass said Saturday night. “He got better on the defensive end for sure, and his rebounding was much better. We’ve seen his offense. We know he can shoot.
“We know he’s learning to put the ball on the floor a little bit. All those things have evolved in his game. The two big areas were rebounding and defense, and those two areas have really improved.”
The additional $750,000 guaranteed to Robinson makes it far more likely — almost a lock, unless he’s traded — he will make the regular-season roster because the Heat doesn’t have room to guarantee salary to a player who isn’t going to make the cut. Miami stands less than $1 million below the $138.9 million hard cap, which was triggered by the sign-and-trade transaction used to add Jimmy Butler this summer.
The Heat is hard capped for the rest of the season at the $138.9 million apron, a number it can’t exceed in any circumstance. To sign any free agent, including Udonis Haslem, Miami would need to release a player on a non-guaranteed/partially guaranteed contract or make a trade that sheds salary.
Robinson is one of four Heat players under non-guaranteed or partially guaranteed contracts counting against the hard cap, along with wing Derrick Jones Jr. (full 2019-20 salary of $1.6 million), forward Yante Maten ($1.4 million) and guard Kendrick Nunn ($1.4 million).
Jones, 22, is pretty much a certainty to make the roster, as he’s expected to be a consistent part of the Heat’s rotation next season.
As for Nunn, the 23-year-old made a very strong case to make the Heat’s roster as one of the standouts at summer league. Nunn, who was named to the NBA Summer League First Team on Monday, averaged 22 points while shooting 50.5 percent from the field and 38.5 percent shooting on threes, 4.3 rebounds and 5.2 assists in six summer league games.
With Robinson also on track to make the roster after clearing Monday’s guarantee date, it leaves Maten in danger of missing the cut if Miami needs to open a roster spot for Haslem or another free agent. Haslem is still deciding whether to return for a 17th NBA season or retire.
Maten, who was one of the Heat’s two-way contract players last season, averaged 11.6 points and 7.6 rebounds in five Las Vegas summer league games.
As for the other guarantee dates to watch for: Aug. 1 is a big one.
Maten has already been guaranteed $100,000 for this upcoming season, and it will increase to $150,000 if he’s not waived by Aug. 1. Nunn has been guaranteed $50,000, and it jumps to $150,000 if he’s not waived by Aug. 1. And Jones’ full $1.6 million salary becomes guaranteed on Aug. 1.