Miami Heat: What does ongoing Caleb Martin interest say about team’s motives?

Caleb Martin
Caleb Martin has spent the last three seasons with the Miami Heat. (Jessie Alcheh/AP Photo)

Outside of the NBA Draft, the Miami Heat have had a remarkably humdrum offseason. They re-signed Kevin Love to a two-year deal within minutes, spontaneously announced all three two-way signings on the second day of free agency and then announced their rookie signings Tuesday.

Miami entered the summer with nearly more questions than answers, including what the Heat would do with their top two free agents–Caleb Martin and Haywood Highsmith–despite toeing near the ultra-onerous second-apron.

Through three days of free agency, neither player has signed, and what was expected to be a robust market for both has been anything but according to the public sphere. In reality, we don’t know who has offered what or what’s on the table for either player.

Though Heat insider Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald reported Tuesday that Miami “made a push” to retain Martin ahead of free agency, and one source told Heat insider Ethan Skolnick of the Five Reasons Sports Network that it was in the range of $12 million.

What does that mean for the team’s motives? Let’s examine.

What does any offer to Caleb Martin say about future motives?

We don’t know if that $12 million number is completely accurate. For the sake of conversation, let’s say that the number is $10 million, not $12 million.

Before Martin, Kevin Love and Thomas Bryant opted out of their player options before free agency, Miami was less than $1 million from the $189 million second apron. Now with Love ($3.8M cap hit for ’24-25), No. 15 pick Kel’el Ware ($4.23M) and No. 44 pick Pelle Larsson ($1.16M) all signed, it is $1.9 million above the first apron but $8.9 million below the second apron. That’s accounting for Tyler Herro’s $2.5 million in unlikely bonuses (a requirement for apron calculations) and Orlando Robinson’s $2.1 million non-guaranteed contract, which becomes fully guaranteed on July 15.

Thus, if Caleb Martin said yes tomorrow for $10 million, the Heat would be over the second apron.

I don’t have sourcing, but I’d imagine they don’t want to go over the second apron. Unless you’re not a contender, you don’t either. Being over the second apron limits the vehicles they can drive and their lanes on the highway.

They won 46 games last year and have been a play-in team in back-to-back years. Courting the same–or similar–roster while in that hampered, cumbersome, nonsensical apron would be malpractice.

Should these reports for Martin be true–or Highsmith, for that matter–what does it mean? Moves are on the way. (Or at least we hope.)

They may not be sexy; they may not be monumental; they not even be meaningful or useful one or two years from now. But the Heat has essentially three big contracts to choose from: Duncan Robinson ($19.4M), Terry Rozier ($24.9M) and Tyler Herro ($29M), who appears to be the most likely of the trio to be traded despite making the highest number.

I discussed in our offseason preview that I was genuinely curious how most league executives thought about Rozier, coming off a serious neck injury, and Robinson, who had a serious back injury that can’t fully be cured.

Regardless of who it chooses to get some salary relief, if they have any interest in retaining either one of Martin or Highsmith, it’s going to mean moves. That could mean either accumulating assets for future trades or finding better complementary pieces to surround Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo with. You likely wouldn’t get an agreement from Martin (or Highsmith) before it’s completed, but if they’re still unsigned and want eight figures, trades have to be made to stay below the second apron.

We don’t know what those potential machinations look like nor do we know if they can realistically pull off such moves. It’s not as simple as plugging it into a trade machine. It takes two to tango.

For all we know, it may be shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side, but the Heat’s grass is currently dry, bare and lifeless. It needs water, and the market may force the Heat’s hand sooner rather than later if it wants Martin or Highsmith back.


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Bryant back on a one year vet mimimum


Now worries…Riley will submerge his face in an ice bucket before Heat overpay for anyone.


What about Duncan, Tyler and Kyle? Overpayment to players has been our Achilles heel during the Butler era. It is the biggest reason, more than even injuries, why Jimmy doesn’t have a title, because we were so limited in options after the overpayments. We got super lucky getting rid of Kyle, but now no one wants the other two assets, particularly Ty. Perhaps now Pat has learned his lesson.


Speaking of overpaying, the Knicks haev been overpaying and haven’t even sniffed an ECF yet. I personally think everyone is overreacting a bit to getting bounced because we were hobbled all year. Every season there is different luck involved. Look at the Bucks. They make a move for Dame and Giannis gets hurt for the playoffs. Sh!t happens. If we can improve the roster trading one of Herro or Duncan, great.


In Jimmy’s 5 years, Miami has only finished in the top 4, once. The 2019-20 – 5th seed, 2020-21 – 8th seed, 2021-22 – 1st seed, 2022-23 – 8th seed, 2023-24 – 8th seed.

Yeah, Miami has had a lot of success in the playoffs during those 5 years, 2 times making the finals, 1 time making the ECF, but discounting the entire regular season for 3 runs, is tough in my eyes. Also Miami’s struggles against top tier teams last year was at another level.

Miami was 14-26 against teams that made the playoffs during the regular season and 1-4 in the playoffs. So a combined 15-30 against teams they’ll need to beat if they are to make a run. Hard to have confidence when you are getting doubled up.


To take it a step further – in the games against the final four teams – Dallas, Minnesota, Indiana and Boston – during the regular season Miami was 1-9. And during the playoffs 1-4.

So against the top teams in the league, Miami managed a 2-13 record. I think there is plenty of reason to think there is a clear set of teams above Miami, and the margin isn’t that close.


Cool. We’ll get to find out again.


To take that a step further they were like that the year before as well having struggled beating good teams in the reg season. LOL thats where not having that consistent 25+ ppg scorer comes into play.


It can be both. Saying the margin has grown Aand that Miami has a feasible contender that has a tight rope to walk aren’t mutually exclusive.

And we should also recognize that with the waning of Lebron and Golden State there’s no such thing as certainty in the league. Miami positioning itself to be consistently competitive into the deeper rounds of the playoffs (even if it’s *if things break right*) is commendable.

Sure Boston might have a run of dominance–well then we should also recognize our FOs foresight in positioning the team to make it’s run Pre-Boston dominance. How many teams just folded when GSW seemed unbeatable? Out west it was only Houston that actively tried everything to push them… And it’s why Daryl Morey will never be unwillingly unemployed.


I like Caleb, but at $10-$12 I need to see a lot more consistency. He can go from Eastern Conference Finals MVP to a dude chucking push shots building public housing. I would prefer to bring Highsmith back at a lower price point who still has some unrealized potential.


Idk, if we can keep both anyways. Highsmith might go for 10 mill as well. 3 and D wings are a very popular archetype. Hopefully I’m wrong.


76ers interested in Highsmith. He would be very helpful on that team. Ugh that will suck.


That would suck big balls, if he went there smh.

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