Barry Jackson

Heat signs Southeastern Conference Player of the Year

The Heat on Sunday gave a two-way contract to Georgia forward Yante Maten (1), who is seen here shooting against Florida during a game Jan. 30 this year. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
The Heat on Sunday gave a two-way contract to Georgia forward Yante Maten (1), who is seen here shooting against Florida during a game Jan. 30 this year. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

After originally preferring to hold its second two-way contract for training camp, the Heat changed its mind this weekend and gave a two-way deal to undrafted Georgia power forward Yante Maten.

The Heat offered Maten a less appealing standard exhibit 10 contract two weeks ago, a deal that would have given him $50,000 guaranteed and about $35,000 if he failed to make the Heat but was instead assigned to Miami’s G-League affiliate in South Dakota.

Instead, the Heat decided to give Maten a more lucrative two-way contract when faced with the possibility of losing him to another team. Players on two-way contracts can earn as much as $385,000.

Austin Walton, Maten’s agent, said the Heat changed its offer to a two-way deal – which Maten preferred – in the past two days.

“They knew there were other suitors and they didn’t want to lose him,” Walton said. “It was the place Yante wanted to be.”

Walton said Maten had offers from “half the league.”

Teams are permitted to give two-way contracts to two players, with undrafted Michigan forward Duncan Robinson having previously received the Heat’s other two-way deal for this season.

Under terms of a two-way contracts, players can spend no more than 45 days in the NBA (before the G-League season ends), with the remainder of the season spent with the team’s G-League affiliate.

Walton said the Heat originally told him that it wanted to hold its second two-way contract and have multiple players compete for that slot in training camp.

The Heat last week bypassed a chance to offer undrafted Arkansas point guard Daryl Macon a two-way contract instead of a standard deal. Macon instead signed with Dallas.

Maten, 6-8, averaged 10.7 points and 5.6 rebounds in summer league for Miami, while shooting 44.6 percent from the field and 38.5 percent on three-pointers and 76.9 percent on free throws.

He averaged an SEC-leading 19.3 points and 8.6 rebounds at Georgia last year and ended his four-year career second on Georgia’s all-time list in points, third in blocks and fourth in rebounds. He became the first Georgia player to earn All-SEC honors three times.

“We saw him play in the SEC and he was player of the year [as a senior],” Heat executive Chet Kammerer said recently. “He’s been a solid player over his career at Georgia and had some individual highs over the course of his career. He started kind of slow but he’s really a solid basketball player. Versatile. He’s got a bright future ahead of him.”

Miami has 14 players signed, including its two two-way contracts, and Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem have invitations to return.

Teams can carry as many as 20 in preseason but can carry no more than 15 players once the regular season starts, plus the additional two players on two-way contracts.

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