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Caleb Martin was not one of the Miami Heat players who made an appearance at summer league this year. He hasn’t even posted many workout videos on social media this offseason.
After a breakout stretch during the Heat’s playoff run to the NBA Finals last season, Martin has intentionally tried to stay off the radar this summer. Especially after he noticed that he was getting recognized more following his impressive playoff performance last season.
“I actually think I’ve stayed inside this summer more than any other summer,” said Martin, who finished as the runner-up for Eastern Conference finals MVP last season. “It’s just times that I’ve been out that it’s been like that and I’ve been recognized. More than anything, once stuff like that goes on and there’s a lot of buzz, I don’t like to really jump in the mix and do stuff. I kind of like to stay reserved.
“I think I’ve stayed out of the way more than any summer before. I didn’t make it out to summer league and I just focused on trying to recover and stuff like that. I kind of stayed out of the mix, honestly.”
Martin, who turns 28 on Thursday, will soon be back in the mix when the Heat holds its annual media day at Kaseya Center on Monday before opening training camp at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton on Tuesday.
Here’s the rest of the Miami Herald’s conversation with Martin ahead of his third season with the Heat:
How did you manage this short offseason after losing in the NBA Finals in June?
“It has just felt a lot shorter. Just trying to take advantage of the days that you have off because you know it’s going to be a quick turnaround after making the Finals. It’s a little bit different because it felt like it was more of a recovery summer than most other summers just because of the amount of time we spent playing and traveling. The emphasis is on trying to recover more than anything right now while also trying to improve your game at the same time.”
What was your focus in offseason workouts this summer?
“I think just, obviously, continuing to stay consistent shooting the three-point ball. Definitely that. And I just continued to try to add things to my game and arsenal. Definitely stuff off the dribble, just being more creative when it comes to that type of stuff. A lot of it is just confidence. Just continue to build off last year and help that carry over, and have a more mature and better mentality coming into this year.”
You began last season as the Heat’s starting power forward and then moved to the bench to play more minutes as a wing after the addition of Kevin Love. Do you prefer one role over the other and how do you expect to be used this season?
“I think it’s open-ended again. I’m the type of guy who’s going to be used in a multitude of ways. So I can’t sit here and say I’m going to be strictly on the wing and coming off the bench or anything like that. I’m sure there are going to be games depending on matchups or style that I might start and play power forward. Then there are going to be other games when I move to the bench and I play the wing position. So it’s always up in the air when it comes to me. That’s my role is just being the guy who can deal with it as it comes.”
Did you stay in Miami most of the summer or did you go home to North Carolina?
“I was at home most of the summer. I was definitely back and forth, though. In the beginning of the summer, I was down here quite a bit working out and chilling in Miami. Then I spent a lot of the second part of the summer back at home in North Carolina.”
You’re entering your third season with the Heat. What does this organization and city mean to you?
“I feel like this is my second home. I really feel like I found a place here. Just being able to progress here and play here and have a run like last year just to kind of see the magnitude of how invested the city is behind us. Now you have the soccer team with [Lionel] Messi here and it’s popping off and you got the Dolphins playing well, it’s pretty cool. It almost feels like it’s a college town but for pro sports. So it’s pretty dope to see how invested the fans are not only in basketball, but all the sports here in Miami.”
Most of last season’s roster is on track to be back, but you lost two starters from the playoff run in Gabe Vincent and Max Strus. How do you replace those guys?
“Obviously, those were my guys. Those were everybody’s guys. So obviously that’s going to be a big hit for us. We definitely have a void to fill. It’s tough to just replace guys. But it might be something where you’re trying to find a new identity. That’s just what happens when guys move around. You just have to find another way to get it done and find whatever works for you as a team. Spo (Erik Spoelstra) will be messing around with that in training camp and preseason and all that type of stuff. But we’re the ones who are out there. We have to find that new connectivity and chemistry with the new guys. But I feel like we got the right type of guys who fit that system and that shouldn’t be hard. It seems like everybody is about winning. You know what it is when you come to play for the Heat. So you just gotta jump in line with the culture. I feel like we got the right guys to do that.”
With the Damian Lillard situation still unresolved, how do you think the team will deal with the potential uncertainty surrounding the roster in camp and beyond?
“It’s tough at times, I’m sure. Everybody is human, man. You got to think about certain things, you hear certain stuff or whatever. But you kind of just get to a point where it’s like whatever is going to happen is going to happen. There’s nothing you can do about it by sitting there and thinking about it. So you don’t really have any type of control over that. At the end of the day, teams are going to try to build the best team and some things have to happen in order to do that. That’s just what comes with the business. The more you understand that and the more you kind of accept that then the easier it will be. It’s not easy having to think about it. But that’s just what comes with the business and it happens all the time.”
How do you deal with the trade speculation individually? Do you ask for clarity or let the situation play out?
“Obviously, I love for somebody to keep it real with you and they know that. But again, I’m not going to sit here and kill myself mentally over something I can’t control. So that’s what I’ve kind of learned over the years, especially the last two seasons. That’s the good part about having value and sometimes that’s the tricky part of having value. That’s what comes with being valuable. It’s not always a bad problem to have, but it’s not always in your favor.”