The Miami Heat withdrew their qualifying offer to former Michigan Wolverine Derrick Walton, Jr., making him an unrestricted free agent Wednesday, the Sun Sentinel confirmed.
He previously held a two-way deal with the organization, but the Heat decided to place him on the free agency market rather than commit to a $50,000 guaranteed contract for the upcoming season. They had a Friday deadline to commit to him, but pulled the trigger yesterday.
The decision comes after Walton struggled during NBA Summer League play. He is averaging only 8.5 points a game on just 36 percent shooting. He still facilitates his teammates on offense to the tune of 5.5 assists per contest.
The Miami Heat have withdrawn their qualifying offer to guard Derrick Walton Jr. He is now an unrestricted free agent, putting his future with the team in doubt.— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) July 12, 2018
“I’m not worried about it,” Walton said leading up to the decision. “I’m honestly not worried about it. Just worry about what’s in front of me and let that be what it is. At the end of the day, there’s not really much I can do about it in the first place, so I can just control what I can control.”
This potentially squashes the further collaboration between Walton and his former Wolverine teammate Duncan Robinson. The latter signed a two-way deal with the Heat on Tuesday.
The only opening for Walton to return to the Heat is that a second two-way deal is still available. NBA teams are allowed two of these deals per season, and Heat Vice President of Player Personnel Chet Kammerer expressed interest in keeping the second deal open until later in the year.
The Heat may keep him on the Sioux Falls Skyforce — their G-League affiliate — due to his improvement on defense. He averaged three steals in the Summer League, and Heat assistant Eric Glass noted, “He’s focused on...competing on the defensive end of the floor and that’s all you can ask for.”
He remains on their Summer League team, which is currently playing the New Orleans Pelicans today in the first round of the Summer League playoffs (NBA TV).