Heat’s Jamaal Kane waits for his chance (just like Caleb Martin did last year), still getting treatment from Butler as rookie – Reading Eagle
Jamal Cain was ready to start even before the Miami Heat lost Caleb Martin and Nikola Jovic to suspensions Monday night after Saturday night’s game against the Toronto Raptors.
But the undrafted wing from Oakland University also appreciated the realities of life as a rookie NBA player with a two-way contract.
So when the Heat went 1-2 in their first three games, Cain waited and watched from the Heat bench until he put on his uniform.
“It looks like we’ll let you know when the time comes,” Cain said, awaiting word from the coaching staff.
With players on both sides limited to 50 games in the regular season, the lack of action in the opening week was a sign of respect that the Heat wanted to keep his 50 game when it was needed most.
Martin is familiar with this situation, having started last season on a two-way contract with the Heat, as did Cain.
“It’s very frustrating,” Martin said of being a two-way player, commenting before the suspension that kept him out of Monday night’s rematch with the Raptors at FTX Arena. “Obviously I’ve been through it before. He showed he can play and he can contribute. Trust me, I was just in his shoes last year at the beginning of the season when it gets really frustrating.”
So frustrating that Martin was placed on the “Inactive List (G League-Sioux Falls Skyforce)” twice early last season. Except he wasn’t anywhere near South Dakota, rather he stayed in South Florida, out of shape, waiting.
“It’s just part of it and understanding the terms of the contract,” Martin said, “and it’s not that they don’t believe in you. It’s strategic. So you never know when that stretch is going to come for him.”
Just like Cain didn’t know last week.
“But I stay ready,” Cain, 23, said. “I keep it the same because you never know.”
Martin said reading the state of the rest of the roster can usually be a clue, these latest suspensions being the latest example.
“It’s pretty much game-by-game,” Martin said of the two-way existence. “They do a good job of trying to give you as much warning as possible so you can be prepared. But you just never know.
“A lot of my stuff was based on Jimmy [Butler] played When Tyler [Herro] and all these guys play. So it’s up in the air. A lot of times in the middle of the season, some guys warm up and say, ‘No, they’re not going to play.’ So everything is changing a lot.”
Unlike Martin, who was already with the Charlotte Hornets for two seasons before signing his two-way deal, Cain remains subject to rookie initiation.
So, while a few veterans from the end of the bench may have soaped up before last week’s games on the training ground, Kane had to wait for the go-ahead from Butler.
“I have to get to it,” Cain said with a smile. “I was there and I asked Jimmy, ‘Can I play?’ and simply shouts: “No!” “
But the respect is there, so much so that the Heat wanted to wait to make the best use of — and maximize — Cain’s youthful athleticism.
“It’s definitely a confidence booster,” Kane said of the Heat not wanting to spend one of his 50 nights on the active roster when he likely won’t be able to enter the game for significant minutes. “Every time my name is called, I just want to make sure I’m ready to produce.”
And, if not, he remains ready to impress in a different way.
“I do have a raincoat that I want to wear,” he quipped about games when he doesn’t have a jersey in his locker.