The Miami Heat enlist Serbian striker Nikola Jovic at number 27

There was a big question about the Miami Heat’s entry into this year’s NBA Draft: Would the Heat keep or trade their first-round pick?

The Heat could have attached the selection to a multi-year contract in a deal to lighten the salary. Among other possibilities, Miami could have packaged the choice with a player in an exchange to acquire a pre-first round selection or distribute the choice over multiple second rounds or a future selection.

But the Heat chose to keep their 27th overall pick in Thursday night’s NBA Draft held at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, beating Serbian striker Nikola Jovic.

“We just think this kid is a growing talent you couldn’t give up at 27 from that point of view,” Heat president Pat Riley said Thursday night shortly after the team selected Jovic. “There were other guys on the board that we liked, but I also think they were duplicates of what we had. So this is a very unique player. Unique dimensions, unique abilities. So this is where we wanted to go with it. “

Among those the Heat got around were Kentucky guard TyTy Washington Jr., Milwaukee striker Patrick Baldwin Jr., Ohio State striker EJ Liddell and UCLA striker Peyton Watson, who were still all on the board when Miami chose.

Riley called Jovic “a development player” and noted that he was at the top of the Heat draft board when selecting the first round and that the team “remained loyal to our board”.

19-year-old Jovic (6-11 and 223 lbs) is a skilled striker with a 7-foot wingspan who played professionally for Mega Mozzart in Serbia. He averaged 11.7 points shooting 42.8% from the field, 35.6% on three and 75.4% from the foul line, 4.4 rebounds, 3.4 assists on 2.7 balls lost and 0.4 blocks per game in 25 appearances for Mega Mozzart during the 2021-22 season

“If I get into a game right now, I’m sure I can help the team,” Jovic said in a call with reporters after being drafted by the Heat. “My disappearance, vision. What a lot of people don’t see is that I have improved in defense. I’m a great guard who can turn everything on. The things that can translate immediately are my shooting, my passing skills and basketball IQ. “

Jovic, who made his international debut at 18, averaged 18.1 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.7 blocks in 31 minutes per game while playing one year at the World Cup. FIBA U19 of 2021.

“He is he played against some really good teams, he played against a lot of good players, he was trained very well, ”Riley said. “He So he’s a size 6-10, he’s long, he can handle the ball, he’s tremendously skilled. So we’ll see where he goes from here. We believe we have gotten an excellent choice on that number. “

In the NBA’s 2021-22 preseason poll of general managers, Jovic was among those who received votes for the best international player not in the NBA.

According to the NBA scouting report on Jovic, he is a “skilled three-tier shooter with enormous size for a winger who was productive in his first full season playing with Mega Mozzart’s senior team. … Displaying intriguing potential as a floor spacer but gaining opportunities to handle the ball in pick and roll matches and attack from the post and perimeter, his talent was evident at times when his pull-up fell. While he has room to get stronger, more comfortable using his frame against smaller defenders, and more stable with the ball to help him create a higher shot rate, his ability to score with touch from all over the floor and switching to his size on the move is certainly intriguing “.

Ringer’s scouting report on Jovic compared him to Danilo Gallinari and described him as a “player at best with the ball in hand in open court or in pick-and-roll. He is able to enter his shot from any area of ​​the floor. He doesn’t force him, though. Jovic has a good selection of shots and has the vision as a passer-by to improve his teammates ”.

Jovic is expected to earn around $ 2.2 million next season as the 27th pick and will be under the team’s control for five seasons. Jovic’s next step is likely Summer League basketball with the Heat in San Francisco and Las Vegas, with the team heading to the West Coast on Tuesday to begin Summer League rehearsals.

“The thing that impressed us the most at the time was that he’s big in size, he’s got great length, he’s got great skills, he’s young and he’s going to get better,” continued Riley. “The way we play, constantly changing, we are a kind of positionless basketball. He has the ability to do those things. So that’s how we see it. “

Jovic, who was born in England before moving to Serbia and raised playing water polo and basketball, is only the Heat’s second-round first-round pick in franchise history that played his previous season overseas. The other was Martin Muursepp, who was the 25th overall pick in the 1996 draft and only played 83 games in the NBA and 10 for the Heat.

Of the decision not to exchange choice no. 27, Riley said, “We talked about it and I’d rather take the player now. We have a team that in free agency we do not know what will happen. But I’d rather take the player now, develop it, and you can always put off choices down the road if you want to. But there was nothing that was really that exciting in the second round or whatever it was for the choice, so we decided to use the choice. ”

Jovic is somewhat familiar with the Heat, having participated in Game 5 of the Miami second-round playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers at the FTX Arena. The Heat won that game 120-85.

“The atmosphere was crazy,” Jovic said. “The first impression was great.”

As for the other Eastern Conference teams, the Orlando Magic brought forward Paolo Banchero with the n. 1, the Detroit Pistons have chosen guard Jaden Ivey at No. 5, the Indiana Pacers chose striker Bennedict Mathurin at no. 6 and the Washington Wizards chose guard Johnny Davis at number 10.

Jovic is the only player the Heat have added to this year’s draft, as Miami was forced to forfeit this year’s round two selection due to the NBA’s investigation into last offseason’s Kyle Lowry takeover.

The Heat’s current salary cap breakdown for next season includes 10 players: Jimmy Butler ($ 37.7 million), Bam Adebayo ($ 30.4 million), Lowry ($ 28.3 million), Duncan Robinson ($ 16.9 million), Tyler Herro ($ 5.7 million), Max Strus ($ 1.8 million in unsecured salary), Gabe Vincent ($ 1.8 million in unsecured salary), Omer Yurtseven ($ 1, 8 million unsecured salary), Haywood Highsmith ($ 1.8 million unsecured salary) and the planned $ 2.2 million limit for Jovic.

Including cap holds, the Heat have approximately $ 130.4 million committed to salaries for next season with the 2022-23 salary cap expected to be set at $ 122 million and the luxury tax threshold expected to be set at $. 149 million. Strus, Vincent and Yurtseven’s $ 1.8 million salaries are guaranteed for next season Wednesday, and Highsmith’s first $ 1.8 million salary for next season becomes guaranteed if not waived before 1. July.

The Heat are expected to operate as an over-the-cap free agency team this off-season as they hold no room for the limit. By entering free agency beyond the maximum limit, the Heat will have the opportunity to bring back to life most of the roster from last season that only won one victory before reaching the NBA Finals because they will be able to exploit the Bird rights of their free agents to re-sign some of them.

As an over-the-cap team, the Heat will also have a few exceptions available for signing players: the $ 10.3 million mid-tier non-contributing exception and the $ 4.1 semi-annual exception, or the $ 6.4 million taxpayer mid-tier exception.

The Heat would be able to use both the $ 10.3 million mid-tier nonpayer exception and the $ 4.1 semiannual exception in one scenario, but using one of these exceptions would limit the Heat. about $ 155 million.

Or the Heat could choose to use the $ 6.4 million mid-level taxpayer exception, which would not limit the Heat. But using this exception will prohibit Miami from using the $ 10.3 million mid-level nonpayer exception and the $ 4.1 million semiannual exception during the 2022-23 NBA calendar.

With forward PJ Tucker expected to give up his $ 7.4 million player option with the Heat for next season before Wednesday’s deadline, the Heat will have six players on his end-of-season roster going into free agency this season. summer: Dewayne Dedmon, Udonis Haslem, Markieff Morris, Victor Oladipo and Tucker will be free agents without restrictions and Caleb Martin will be free agents with restrictions.

The Heat owns all the Bird rights to Haslem and Oladipo, so it can exceed the salary cap to re-sign their maximum salary despite being over the limit.

The Heat owns Dedmon’s Early Bird rights, so he can cross the salary cap to re-sign him with a starting salary of up to about $ 11 million but for no less than two seasons.

The Heat does not hold any form of Bird rights to Morris, Tucker and Martin. This means Miami is limited to the non-Bird exception, semiannual exception, one of the mid-level exceptions, or a minimum contract to re-sign them this summer.

Free agent negotiations across the NBA can begin June 30 at 6pm, with free agent signings licensed to begin July 6 at noon.

This story was originally published June 23, 2022 10:55 pm.

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Anthony Chiang covers the Miami Heat for the Miami Herald. He attended the University of Florida and was born and raised in Miami.

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