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There were no guarantees when Haywood Highsmith reported for summer-league duty with the Miami Heat this past week in San Francisco. Now, there is an investment.

Without a move by the team by Friday’s deadline, Highsmith received a $50,000 guarantee toward his $1.8 million 2022-23 salary.

Added by the Heat amid the team’s COVID breakout in December and then brought back for the balance of the season in February, Highsmith is with the team’s roster for summer leagues this month in San Francisco and Las Vegas.

His next guarantee date is opening night of the regular season, when an additional $400,000 of his salary would be guaranteed.

Having previously spent time with the Philadelphia 76ers and their G League affiliate, Highsmith, at 6 feet 6, is being tested as an undersized power forward.

For now, he is letting the financial aspects take care of themselves, as he works toward a roster spot while also mentoring the younger players on the team’s summer roster.

“To be honest, I don’t really circle those days,” said the 25-year-old, who went undrafted out of Division II Wheeling (W. Va.) University. “I just work. I don’t worry about that type stuff.

“As long as I’m working, putting in the work and showing what I can do and doing what I can control, it’s going to work out itself. So I don’t sit here and say, ‘Oh, it’s a guarantee day if I get past this date.’ I’m going to keep working.”

Highsmith and Omer Yurtseven, who will join the Heat for the Las Vegas portion of the July schedule, are the only veterans under contract on the Heat’s summer roster.

Highsmith was in the Heat’s starting lineup for Saturday’s summer-league opener at the California Classic against the Los Angeles Lakers at Chase Center, alongside Heat two-way players Javonte Smart and Mychal Mulder, as well as first-round pick Nikola Jovic and undrafted free-agent center Orlando Robinson.

Jovic signed

The Heat announced during their summer-league opener that Jovic has signed his rookie-scale contract, one that starts with a $2.2 million salary for the coming season.

Selected at No. 27, Jovic is locked into two guaranteed seasons, with the Heat then holding team options for the following two seasons.

By NBA rule, the Heat cannnot trade Jovic for 30 days from Saturday’s signing.

Brotherly love

No sooner had Cody Martin agreed to a four-year, $32 million free-agent contract to remain with the Charlotte Hornets, then Heat forward Caleb Martin, his twin brother, on Saturday posted dollar-sign emojis as congratulations.

Caleb Martin remains a restricted free agent in the wake of the Heat extending a $2.1 million qualifying offer for 2022-23 that allows them to match outside offers up to the $10.3 million mid-level exception.

Based on the Heat’s preference to avoid an NBA hard cap, the highest the Heat likely would go with Martin would be the $6.5 million taxpayer mid-level, which would max out at a three-year, $20.4 million contract.

Caleb Martin stressed after the season that his preference was to remain with the Heat, who upgraded him this past season from a two-way contract to a standard deal.

Caleb Martin would gain Bird Rights with the Heat if he remains for the team for another season.

One proposal

With the Heat and Phoenix Suns among Kevin Durant’s preferred landing spots amid his recent trade request from the Brooklyn Nets, John Hollinger, the former Memphis Grizzlies executive, offered up a Heat permutation in a piece for The Athletic.

“How about one where Miami sends out [Bam] Adebayo, Kyle Lowry, Duncan Robinson, Tyler Herro, two unprotected firsts (2023 and 2028) and three picks pick swaps (2024, 2027, and 2029) for Durant, [Ben] Simmons and Seth Curry?” Hollinger offered.

He continued, “It still seems tricky. The Heat might argue they don’t need to include this much draft equity, and would surely look for scenarios to avoid including Adebayo at all. Since those scenarios basically don’t exist, it might be a conversation-ender. Even if it wasn’t, Simmons would become a guy the Heat had to count on — yikes — and they wouldn’t have a center. But they would have Kevin Durant.”


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ASK IRA: Is Kevin Durant too much of a moving target for Heat?

Q: Ira, is Kevin Durant teasing us? Now it’s Boston and Philadelphia instead of us and Phoenix. It’s like he can’t make up his mind. – Art.

A: First, as has been the case since Kevin Durant’s trade request became public on June 30, it still is not about what he wants, but rather what works best for the Nets. With four more seasons under contract, Durant is not in position, as he would be if he were an impending free agent, to dictate terms. But, yes, the calculus now seems to be changing daily, with the latest report of the 76ers and Celtics becoming Durant’s current destinations of choice. It certainly is understandable that he has moved on from his Phoenix desires, considering Deandre Ayton is off the market. And perhaps there is a realization that if the Heat aren’t offering Bam Adebayo that there is no deal to be made with Brooklyn. But Philadelphia? What exactly is there remaining in return after everything was cleared out by the 76ers in the James Harden trade? On one hand, Durant’s desires and the accompanying inaction has brought the personnel market to a half. On the other hand, his situation has produced the desired result of keeping the NBA in the summer-doldrum headlines. So there is that.

Q: I don’t think Kevin Durant wants to put up with Pat Riley, who has always been the de-facto coach. – Centrist.

A: No, Pat Riley has not. Erik Spoelstra has coaching autonomy, but also the utmost respect to work in concert with Riley. And in Spoelstra, it would give Kevin Durant the best (or second best, depending on the view on Steve Kerr) coach that Kevin has played under during his career. The biggest negative for Durant with the Heat might simply be the Heat lacking the assets needed to get him to South Florida.

Q: Hey Ira, I think most old school Heat fans (me included) want to see Udonis Haslem in a Heat uniform for his 20th season. However, what’s best for the team: nostalgia and locker-room presence or signing a veteran power forward that can give us 25 minutes per game? Could retirement be how UD helps the team most this season? – David, Venice.

A: But this all is moot. If Udonis Haslem was not returning, he would have sent such a message to the Heat by now, and the Heat, in turn, would have signed a player for the 14th roster roster. This is no indication of anything other than a 20th Heat season, and, this time, likely a formal farewell tour.


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