After just one exhibition for the Miami Heat, its’s time to amplify the starting lineup.
Starters Bam Adebayo and Kendrick Nunn are now eligible to participate in Friday’s practice and the Heat’s second scrimmage on July 25 vs. the Utah Jazz.
Following a mandated 24-36 hour quarantine featuring two negatives samples of COVID-19, both players were cleared to engage in the NBA’s “bubble” at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex on Thursday.
While the Heat had the day off following a 104-98 win over the Sacramento Kings, Adebayo and Nunn went through a workout with coaches.
Arriving Tuesday night, both players did not participate or attend in Miami’s first scrimmage, as they were still complying with the league’s health and safety regulations.
The return of Adebayo and Nunn makes the Heat’s entire 17-man roster available to play together for the first time — injuries to Meyers Leonard and Tyler Herro, along with trade deadline acquisitions of Andre Iguodala, Jae Crowder and Solomon Hill limited the rotation — this season.
In addition, two-way players Gabe Vincent and Kyle Alexander are fairly new to the Heat, spending most of their 2019-20 season with Sioux Falls Skyforce, Miami’s G League affiliate.
Despite the extended absence of both players, forward Jimmy Butler is confident Adebayo and Nunn will find their touch and confidence with ease.
“They’ll be alright, you get in there and you just hoop for a little, get a rhythm in a couple of scrimmages and then be ready to go,” Butler told reporters following Wednesday’s victory. “I know that they’re going to be in shape because they’ve been doing what they’re supposed to be doing. But we really do need these guys, want these guys back ASAP.”
Butler ultimately hopes to have both young players back with the team. Although the final goal is to win games, it’s also about being united once again.
“They’re a key piece,” Butler said. “They’re very, very important to what we want to try to accomplish this year, and probably for many more years moving forward. More than basketball, we just want our brothers back.”
It remains unknown if Adebayo and Nunn will play in Saturday’s contest.