The Heat rewarded Yante Maten with a two-year contract on Sunday in the wake of the undrafted forward from Georgia producing big numbers in the G-League.
The deal, which runs through the 2020-21 season, can be worth as much as $3.1 million. A portion of next year’s salary is guaranteed, with the rest guaranteed if Maten remains on the roster after several trigger dates during the offseason.
In order to do the deal, the Heat used a very samll portion of its $5.6 million taxpayer midlevel exception.
Maten’s salary for 2020-21 will be guaranteed if he’s on the roster opening night.
“He’s got a great offensive skill set,” Erik Spoelstra said Sunday morning before the Heat-Raptors game at ScotiaBank Arena. “You can’t teach that kind of touch for somebody of his size. He’s a gym rat, very coachable. We’re looking forward to growing with him. He’s a good kid.”
In 30 games playing for the Heat’s G-League team in South Dakota this season, Maten averaged 23.5 points, 9.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.1 blocks while shooting 53.8 percent from the field and 32.7 percent on three-pointers. He missed substantial time in January and February with an ankle injury, but impressed the Heat by rebounding, defending and a polished mid-range offensive game.
“You could make the case he was on his way to becoming MVP [before the injury],” Spoelstra said. “Best record in the league and he was tearing it up.”
Maten signed a two-way contract with the Heat last summer as an undrafted player out of Georgia. That contract limited his NBA service time to no more than 45 days before the G-League season ended. Maten has been with the Heat the past couple of weeks.
The Heat, by league rule, was obligated to add a 14th player to the roster on Sunday, and Maten emerged as the preferred choice instead of signing a veteran who was a free agent.
By signing a standard contract, Maten is eligible for the team’s playoff roster.
Duncan Robinson, still on a two-way contract, would not be eligible unless his deal is also replaced by a standard contract. The Heat has been considering giving Robinson a standard deal, but nothing had been resolved on that front as of Sunday morning.
Maten’s signing gives the Heat 11 players under contract this season, with impending free agents Rodney McGruder and Udonis Haslem not included in that group. They are collectively scheduled to earn around $132 million, which is right at the projected luxury tax line, but could be lowered by about $6 million by releasing Ryan Anderson. That does not account for an allocation for the Heat’s first-round draft pick.
That group of 11 includes two players with opt out clauses: Hassan Whiteside ($27.4 million) and Goran Dragic ($19 million). Whiteside isn’t expected to opt, and Dragic might not either.
That 11-player number also includes Anderson, whose salary will be reduced from $21.4 million to $15.6 million if he’s bought out by a July 10 deadline, as expected.
The Heat is well above next season’s projected $109 million cap.
Maten, the 2018 SEC Player of the Year, played four seasons at the University of Georgia, appearing in 128 career collegiate games (97 starts). Among the school’s all-time lists, he finished second in points (1,886), third in blocks (198), fourth in rebounds (889) and free throws made (518), sixth in field goals made (655), 13th in free throw percentage (.755) and 15th in field goal percentage (.483).
He led the conference in scoring average as a senior, becoming just the fifth player in school history to accomplish the feat. Additionally, Maten became the first Bulldog in 25 years to earn three All-SEC honors in his career and just the sixth player in program history to achieve the feat.
“We like guys that have had a lot of success in college,” Spoelstra said. “Player of the Year, that doesn’t happen by accident, particularly in such a competitive conference.”
SPOELSTRA TO RECRUIT HASLEM
Spoelstra said he will try to pursuade Udonis Haslem to return for a 17th season with the team. Goran Dragic and other players have spoken about how valuable Haslem’s leadership is.
“I’m going to try to convince him to keep on going,” Spoelstra said. “He has the right to take his time, and that’s what he’s going to do. But at least we got him to that point, where it’s not an automatic package deal with Dwyane [Wade]. That would be fitting, but I would like to see him continue. We need it and what he brings to the table is what so many organizations are missing - that leadership, knowledge, somebody that really understands your culture. I will respect whatever decision he makes, but I am going to recruit him hard this summer.”