Almost a year ago, Miami Heat forward Duncan Robinson re-signed with the team on a five-year $90 million contract. Now, the Heat forward’s future with the team is in question. Robinson’s role with the Heat has changed over the past couple of months. He started 67 games for the Heat this past season before losing his starting job to Max Strus.
Check out our Miami Heat Offseason Preview here
The Heat sharpshooter remained in the rotation until he was out in the second round of the NBA playoffs. From there, he played spot minutes in the Eastern Conference Finals with Miami suffering injuries to key players. On his podcast “The Long Shot”, Robinson admits the change was challenging for him.
“It does not matter if you’re playing JV basketball, if you’re playing middle school basketball, if you’re playing college basketball, if you’re playing in the NBA at the highest level. Not playing, it sucks in a lot of ways,” Robinson said in the podcast’s new episode. “Especially when you feel that you’re capable and you feel that you can help win. It’s a really, really challenging feeling to combat, especially when you’re on the cusp and in the midst of a run where your team is playing really well.”
Going from a starting role to not playing is tough. For three years, Robinson has been a consistent starter for Miami. His shooting has been vital for the Heat’s offense. The spacing his elite shooting provides helps open up things for Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. However, teams have picked up on this and done well against Miami’s dribble hand-offs. Additionally, they also target Robinson on defense. Because of this, Miami has often gone with wing defenders like Caleb Martin and Victor Oladipo over him.
During the podcast, Robinson mentioned how Games 1 and 2 in the first-round series set the tone for his unexpected playoff experience. He also added that he was bothered by the Game 1 to Game 2 shift in minutes. In Game 1, he scored 27 points on eight made threes to set a Heat playoff record. Everything was clicking for Robinson in Game 1. He was making tough contested three-pointers and even attacked the basket a few times. But in Game 2, he only played six minutes with no field goal attempts. In Game 3, he shot 1-of-4 from three-point range and logged 14 minutes.
“I think that particular Game 1 to Game 2 shift in that series was something that I probably let bother me a little bit more than I should have,” Robinson said. “Because in Game 3, I think I got my like six-minute run in the first half. I think I missed a couple shots and didn’t play as well.”
“I still think if like in Game 3 I came out and hit some shots, that’s why I’m not like here and eager to put the burden or responsibility on other people. I still think that if I had like handled my business and made shots and defended better than I did and know that I’m capable of doing.”
Robinson’s role with the team going forward is uncertain. It’s unknown if he’s going to start again, stay in the rotation, or even remain on the team. There’s a possibility Robinson’s contract could be used to facilitate a trade for a star or key player. Players such as Donovan Mitchell, Bradley Beal, and Zach Lavine could want a change of scenery this offseason. While Robinson would not be the main piece in a potential trade, his contract is important for salary matching purposes. If he does remain on the team, he’s going to have to become a better all-around player than he has been. According to Robinson, the motivation is there.
“It’s one of those things I can’t dwell on, but I can definitely not forget,” Robinson said. I’m trying to shift my perspective that like now with the offseason, I have this incredible opportunity with this newly built-in packed-in motivation. Motivation, saying it’s an all-time high would probably be an understatement.”
It’s going to be an interesting offseason for Robinson and the Heat. We’ll see what happens.
Follow Jacari McRae on Twitter @JMcRae23
Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images