The Miami Heat have decided to promote guard Dru Smith to a standard multi-year NBA contract, while sharpshooting forward Cole Swider will be transitioning to a two-way deal, as reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Also, the team has officially waived both forward Cheick Diallo and wing Justin Champagnie, who were previously on Exhibit 10 contracts.
Dru Smith, aged 25, has been part of the Heat’s developmental system since he initially inked a training camp deal with the team back in 2021.
During that year, he played for Miami’s G League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, before once again signing with the Heat for their 2022 training camp. At the conclusion of the 2022 camp, Smith secured a two-way contract with the team.
Throughout the early stages of the 2022/23 season, the Heat had been alternating between Orlando Robinson and Smith, both on two-way deals, along with Jamal Cain.
They made several swaps among this trio. Eventually, Smith briefly signed with the Nets on a two-way contract before returning to Miami in this free agency period.
Now, as a significant development, Dru Smith has earned a multi-year standard contract, which includes an opening-night guarantee of $425,000, as reported by Tim Reynolds.
This contract structure is akin to the one Orlando Robinson received from Miami, featuring a conditional guarantee for the second year of the deal.
Furthermore, the second year of the contract includes a July trigger date, and the Heat’s ability to sign Smith to a two-year deal was limited due to the tax apron. Smith had an impressive preseason, with an average of 6.5 points and 5.3 assists in four games.
Head coach Erik Spoelstra commended his performance during training camp, and the Heat valued his ability to orchestrate the team. Smith and Kyle Lowry are the only genuine point guards on the Miami roster.
It’s intriguing to see Miami choose Smith over Cain for the 14th roster spot, as Cain had been hoping to secure that spot. Cain averaged 11.3 points and 8.3 rebounds in four preseason games.
However, retaining Cain on a two-way contract makes it more flexible for the Heat to keep him in their system, especially since they might consider changing the 14th roster spot during the season.
Waiving the 14th player to convert them to a two-way deal exposes that player to potential claims by other teams, which would have added risk to signing Cain to a standard contract.
Swider is another player who garnered attention during training camp and the preseason. He began the preseason with an impressive 17-point performance, making five three-pointers.
Swider, who spent the previous season on a two-way contract with the Lakers before being waived this summer, averaged 11.2 points and connected on 37.1% of his three-point attempts (7.0 tries) in five preseason appearances.
The 6’9″ forward had a 43.6% three-point shooting record in 27 regular-season G League games last year.
Swider aspires to follow in the footsteps of Heat sharpshooter Duncan Robinson as an oversized shooter with a successful career in Miami. He joins Cain and R.J. Hampton as the Heat’s two-way players.
Regarding the Heat’s training camp players, Diallo had limited playing time in the preseason, with an average of 2.7 rebounds in 6.9 minutes.
Champagnie had a more prominent role, averaging 7.5 points in 22.1 minutes, making a strong case during camp battles.
Although both players are being waived, the Heat likely intend to assign them to the Skyforce, where they can be eligible for a bonus of up to $75,000 if they spend 60 or more days there.
Champagnie had experience with the Skyforce last season, and Miami may revisit the possibility of reacquiring him in the future, similar to what they did with Smith.
With these series of moves, the Miami Heat’s roster for the opening night of the season appears to be solidified, although there’s still room for potential Exhibit 10 signings in the future.