Caleb Martin on rejecting bigger Heat offer: 'Live and learn'

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Tuesday, July 9, 2024

CAMDEN, N.J. -- Caleb Martin turned down a deal that would have reportedly paid him $65 million over the next five seasons to stay with the Miami Heat and instead signed a four-year deal guaranteed for more than $32 million with the Philadelphia 76ers, a decision he's taking as a lesson and moving past.

"Just certain things didn't work," Martin said Tuesday at the Sixers' New Jersey complex. "There was a lot of things behind the scenes that went on. Ultimately, there was a lot in making that decision. There's a lot that contributed to how everything went. But past is past, can't do nothing about that. I'm looking forward to being here and being a part of Philly and trying to bring everything I can in order to try and win a championship. That's my main focus now."

Martin, 28, averaged 8.5 points over five seasons, including the past three with the Heat. It was in Miami where Martin developed a reputation for raising his game in the playoffs.

He'll likely fill a starting spot left open in Philly, where the 76ers have revamped their roster after another early postseason exit. They spent more than $400 million to sign George away from the Clippers and keep Tyrese Maxey, their homegrown All-Star guard, in the fold for five more years. Team president Daryl Morey also signed free agents Andre Drummond and Eric Gordon and re-signed Kelly Oubre Jr.

The win-now moves for a franchise that hasn't advanced out of the second round since 2001 are designed to put the Sixers in the hunt with NBA champion Boston and put pressure on New York, Indiana and even Milwaukee to at least remain a threat in the East.

Martin was undrafted coming out of college after stints at North Carolina State and Nevada. He entered the NBA with almost no guarantees. He signed with the Hornets and played for their G League affiliate before being waived and joining the Heat before the 2021-22 season.

Martin stuck with Miami and eventually became a breakout star of the 2023 playoffs when he pushed the Heat to the NBA Finals.

He could enter 2024 as the starting power forward for a franchise that hasn't won an NBA title since 1983.

Martin averaged 19.3 points on 60% shooting and scored a playoff-career-high 26 points on Boston's home floor in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals in 2023. He was solid in the first two rounds that season against No. 1 Milwaukee and No. 5 New York, averaging 10.8 points on nearly 53% shooting.

It's one reason the 76ers and Heat both wanted him on their rosters, even if the final call to come to Philly came at a steep price for Martin -- and a nice discount for the Sixers.

"I mean, you're always going to wish you can make as much money as you can," Martin said. "It's part of the game, it's part of life. You live and learn. You take risks. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.