Miami Heat

Miami Heat waive Larry Drew II, add Tony Mitchell to roster

MIAMI — With the start of the regular season inching closer, the Heat are trying to make the most of the 20-player preseason roster limit while they still can.

Miami waived guard Larry Drew II and replaced that vacant spot by signing developmental-league veteran forward Tony Mitchell on Thursday. After releasing Drew and adding Mitchell, the Heat’s roster is still at the preseason limit of 20 players.

Miami has until Monday to trim its roster down to 15 players for the start of the regular season.

Tony Mitchell signs his Heat contract. (Photo from the Miami Heat)

Mitchell, a 28-year-old who went undrafted out of Alabama in 2012, excelled in the developmental league. He’s appeared in 78 NBA G League games (52 starts) and averaged 21.2 points, 5.9 points, 2.8 assists and 1.3 steals in 32.7 minutes while shooting 42.5 percent from the field.

Along with those numbers, Mitchell earned G League Rookie of the Year honors in 2013 while being named to the All-G League First Team and All-G League Rookie Team. He’s also pretty athletic, as he captured back-to-back developmental league Slam Dunk titles in 2013 and 2014.

Since his success in the G League, Mitchell has spent the last three seasons overseas playing for a variety of teams. He split last season between three teams in Israel, Australia and Puerto Rico, appearing in a total of 35 games (13 starts) and averaging 13.0 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 21.6 minutes while shooting 42 percent from the field.

Aside from playing in the developmental league and overseas, Mitchell has appeared in three career NBA games. All of them came with the Milwaukee Bucks during the 2013-14 season, as he totaled six points, one rebound, one assist and a steal while shooting 60 percent (3-of-5) from the field.

Even after Thursday’s transaction, Drew and Mitchell are both expected to end up with the Heat’s G League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce.

Mitchell’s deal with the Heat is not a two-way contract, according to a league source.

But the deal is set up to send Mitchell to Sioux Falls as an affiliate player. If he ends up with the Skyforce, he would count toward the Heat’s four affiliate players.

As for Drew, he is set up to head to Sioux Falls as a returning player if he’s not claimed by another team and signed to an NBA contract. Drew, who would not count toward Miami’s affiliate player total since he’s a returning player, appeared in one preseason game for the Heat and recorded one rebound, one assist and a steal in five minutes of action on Oct. 5 at Brooklyn.

There are now six players who have been on the Heat’s preseason roster eligible to be moved to Sioux Falls if released — Erik McCree, Derrick Walton Jr., Matt Williams Jr., DeAndre Liggins, Drew and Mitchell. With Heat coach Erik Spoelstra calling this “a no-cut camp,” the 15-man roster is pretty much set with these six players on track to end up with the Skyforce.

Drew and Liggins would not count as affiliate players since they are returning to the Skyforce, and Walton signed a two-way contract and will not count as an affiliate player or toward the Heat’s final 15-player NBA roster limit. This means McCree, Williams and Mitchell are the three players who could take up affiliate spots if they play for Sioux Falls, with one of the four affiliate slots still open in this scenario.

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