The Miami Heat are again in an injury wait game, this time with forward Caleb Martin.
Martin was injured in the first half of Wednesday night’s loss to the Phoenix Suns at FTX Arena and was initially diagnosed with a strained left knee. An MRI is expected to follow on Thursday.
Martin was already dealing with a sore left Achilles which had left him questionable in recent injury reports. He missed five games in seven games with the condition in February before returning to appear in the final eight games.
Despite the return of guard Victor Oladipo after an 11-month injury layoff, Martin had remained in the rotation, while manager Erik Spoelstra moved Gabe Vincent and Max Strus to smaller roles instead.
Martin, 26, started the season on a two-way contract. He was then converted to a standard contract on February 15, making him eligible for the playoff list. He becomes a limited free agent on July 1, with the Heat able to match outside offers up to their salary cap.
The Heat have 15 games left in their regular season, with the Cleveland Cavaliers next up Friday night. The regular season ends April 10th and the NBA playoffs begin April 16th.
Martin, who was added in the offseason after being released by the Charlotte Hornets, has played in 52 games this season, including 10 starts. He averages 9.4 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.1 assists in a 22:51 average and often plays in the closing lineup due to his defensive skills.
With forward Markieff Morris still sidelined in his recovery from a neck injury sustained in his Nov. 8 clash with Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, Martin was one of Spoelstra’s few options as a backup power forward for starter PJ Tucker. Spoelstra’s remaining options are the recently signed Haywood Highsmith, bigger two big man lineups or a small appearance with Strus Martin taking the record in the second half of Wednesday night.
For the heat, it means extra time less than whole.
“I mean, one thing you don’t like to see is one of your brothers going down,” center Bam Adebayo said. “It’s an important piece for us. He does so many things defensively and he kind of has an offensive game. So that hinders us.
“Of course you never want to see one of your brothers go down, but he’ll get back on his feet.”
With Highsmith’s signing, the Heat have no roster spot for a Martin complement, if needed, already at the roster limit of 15 under standard contract, plus guards Kyle Guy and Javonte Smart on two-way contracts.
Spoelstra explained that the team signed Highsmith, 25, with the future in mind. The 6-foot-7 forward has been signed to a three-year deal that includes non-guaranteed 2022-23 and 23-24 seasons.
“We really like him as a two-way attacking-defensive player,” Spoelstra said. “He kind of fits the mold of this 3-D guy. He can defend several positions. He is strong. He can guard faster guys. He can guard bigger guys. And he’s a more than capable 3 point shooter.”
The Heat initially signed Highsmith to two 10-day contingency contracts following the team’s COVID outbreak in late December.
“We are very happy to have him in the program,” said Spoelstra. “We really liked him when we had him in January and we hoped we could get something done by the end of the year and we did.
“He’s been great so far, even if he’s just been with the boys and developing. And we look forward to a great summer with him.”
Wednesday’s 111-90 loss to the Suns was the Heat’s second-worst home loss this season, surpassed only by the 111-85 loss on Dec. 1 to the Cavaliers, Friday’s opponents at FTX Arena.
Also, Wednesday’s Heat’s 55-38 rebound deficit was the third-worst deficit of the season, the worst since outrebounding 18 in a Dec. 4 loss in Milwaukee.
“Clearly unacceptable,” said security guard Duncan Robinson. “We’ve been pretty good at it all year, but definitely a learning experience that we now know definitely can’t happen.” . .
With 17 goals against the Suns, guard Tyler Herro saw his franchise-record streak come off the bench in seven straight 20-point games. The previous heat record was four in a row by Chris Gatling in March 1996. . .
Wednesday marked the Heat’s first loss as Robinson scored 20 or more goals, now 11-1 in such situations after Robinson led the Heat with 22.
https://www.twincities.com/2022/03/10/caleb-martins-left-knee-is-the-heats-latest-injury-concern/ Caleb Martin’s left knee is Heat’s latest injury problem – Twin Cities