Haywood Highsmith has bigger plans. Nonetheless, the Miami Heat forward offered a reminder Wednesday night at the NBA Las Vegas Summer League that he can be a cut above this level of competition.
Expected to compete for playing time at power forward this season in the wake of P.J. Tucker’s free-agency departure, Highsmith closed with 17 points and seven rebounds in a 75-71 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers’ summer roster on the UNLV campus.
“I feel like summer league has just been an opportunity for me to grow,” Highsmith said.
On a partially guaranteed contract, Highsmith was mostly efficient with his play, closing 6 of 13 from the field, albeit 1 of 7 on 3-pointers. He also produced a highlight blocked shot on Malik Ellison dunk attempt with 14.3 seconds remaining on a play initially called as a foul but then overturned upon replay.
“He does provide some stability for us out there on the floor,” said assistant coach Malik Allen, who is guiding the Heat’s summer roster. “He can figure out how to play with other guys pretty quick.”
By contrast, guard Javonte Smart, who is on a two-way deal with the Heat, scored 20, but it came on 8-of-26 shooting.
Allen said he would have preferred for Smart to take the first, best-available shot, rather than trying to do too much.
“As crazy as it sounds,” Allen said, “there are times he should have taken the first one.”
The Heat also got 13 points and 10 rebounds from Orlando Robinson, the undrafted center out of Fresno State who last week received an Exhibit 10 contract for an invitation to training camp.
“He was more aggressive,” Allen said.
Undrafted University of San Francisco guard Jaramee Bouyea, who received his own Exhibit 10 contract on Tuesday night, closed 1 of 10 from the field.
“He had been finishing those all summer league,” Allen said of Bouyea’s wayward drives.
It also was a rough night for guard Marcus Garrett, who is working his way back from midseason wrist surgery, 0 for 9 from the field and 2 of 6 from the line.
“I think he was overthinking a little bit,” Allen said.
Quadriceps injuries kept Heat big men Omer Yurtseven and Nikola Jovic out for a second consecutive night. Yurtseven, who arrived from Europe last week after playing in World Cup qualifying for Turkey, has yet to play in summer league. Jovic, the No. 27 pick in last month’s NBA draft, last played in Saturday’s victory over the Boston Celtics.
Also held out by the Heat was Mychal Mulder, with the guard on a two-way contract given the night off for rest.
The Heat opened with a lineup of Robinson, Highsmith, Smart, Garrett and Bouyea.
Among those who watched from across the Heat bench were Heat players Bam Adebayo and Caleb Martin, coach Erik Spoelstra, and assistant coaches Chris Quinn and Octavio De La Grana. Former Heat guard Mario Chalmers also was in attendance.
The Heat have two summer-league games remaining, Friday at 10 p.m. Eastern against the Toronto Raptors (NBA TV) and then one additional game either Saturday or Sunday, depending on the seeding result of their first for Las Vegas games.
The loss dropped the Heat to 1-2 in Las Vegas and 2-4 overall in summer league, after going 1-2 in San Francisco in the California Classic.