The reality of NBA two-way contracts is that they are fluid, nothing guaranteed during the offseason beyond the moment.
That’s what made Saturday’s Las Vegas Summer League opener significant for Miami Heat guard Mychal Mulder.
After struggling with his offense in the Heat’s three previous summer-league games at the California Classic, Mulder this time converted his first five 3-point attempts on the way to 23 points in an 88-78 victory on the UNLV campus over the summer roster of the Boston Celtics.
“He was due,” said Heat summer-league coach Malik Allen.
Already with 84 games of NBA regular-season experience with the Golden State Warriors, Orlando Magic and Heat, the 28-year-old still finds himself searching for an NBA foothold, amid the uncertainty of his two-way contract.
At least for this offseason, Saturday was a start.
After shooting .286 from the field in this month’s previous three summer-league games in San Francisco, including just 5 of 23 on 3-pointers, Mulder settled the Heat’s offense Saturday, making himself available for quality looks.
“It was good to finally knock the lid off that was there in San Francisco,” Mulder said.
Saturday’s game also marked the first action for Marcus Garrett in front of a crowd since he was waived from his two-way contract by the Heat in January to undergo wrist surgery.
Garrett, who went undrafted out of Kansas last year, played off the bench and offered remainders of his feisty on-ball defense at point guard, including a strip-and-score in the second quarter.
“It felt good,” Garrett said. “Knowing I’ve been away since January, it’s something I’ve been praying for.”
He closed with 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting.
“When he gets between those lines,” Allen said, “he’s a tough competitor.”
There also was another solid effort from undrafted center Orlando Robinson, who started for the fourth time in as many summer outings by the Heat, this time finishing with 12 points and eight rebounds.
“He draws attention,” Allen said. “He had a big impact on the game.”
By contrast, it was an uneven effort from first-round pick Nikola Jovic, who was coming off a 25-point performance in his previous outing. This time the Serb forward was a non-factor on offense, scoreless and taking only one shot in his 13:58.
“It’s an adjustment for him,” Allen said of the 19-year-old. “But he’ll get there. It’s going to be a process for him.”
The Heat opened with a lineup of Robinson, Jovic, Haywood Highsmith, Javonte Smart and Kyle Allman Jr.
Center Omer Yurtseven sat at the end of the Heat bench but did not play, still sore from last Sunday’s World Cup qualifying for Turkey. He will be re-evaluated Monday.
Among those from the Heat regular-season roster watching from across the bench were Tyler Herro, Gabe Vincent and Max Strus, who was among the Heat’s breakout players during 2021 summer league.
The Heat next play Tuesday at 7 p.m. Eastern against the Atlanta Hawks (NBA TV). Among those on Atlanta’s summer roster is undrafted University of Florida forward Anthony Duruji, former Heat guard Marcus Georges-Hunt and Heat G League player Chandler Hutchinson.