The most consistently impactful player on the San Antonio Spurs summer league team this year has been Darius Days, an undrafted big man out of LSU. On Saturday, the Miami Heat announced that they have signed Days to a two-way contract.
This has to be considered a disappointing turn of events from San Antonio’s perspective. The Spurs have an open spot on their roster for another two-way contract and it appeared as if Days was the leading candidate for the job. Now, he’s off to the Heat.
At 6-foot-7 and 245 pounds, Days is a unique prospect. While short for a big man, he’s extremely strong and times his jumps well when going for rebounds. Additionally, his mechanics on his three-point jumper are flawless and he’s comfortable playing out on the perimeter. In three summer league games for the Spurs, Days averaged 13.7 points and 10.0 rebounds in only 21.9 minutes per game, while shooting 55.6% from the field and connecting on 6-of-16 three-point attempts.
Obviously, summer league success doesn’t translate to NBA success — but Days looked like a prospect worth keeping around. A 22-year-old big man who can rebound, hit threes and play with boundless energy sounds like a player that could have been useful on the Spurs. Last season, San Antonio had very little depth at power forward and seemingly had no one who could simultaneously rebound and spread the floor at that position.
Days joins a Heat franchise that has been the best team in the league at identifying and developing undrafted players. Last season, Miami made it to the Eastern Conference Finals with the undrafted duo of Max Strus and Duncan Robinson in their rotation. Another undrafted player, Omer Yurtseven, started a dozen games for the Heat in the regular season.
Maybe Days won’t be another undrafted success story for the Heat. Perhaps he never even plays in an NBA game. However, it definitely feels like the Spurs let an intriguing prospect slip through their grasps.
This situation reminds me of a similar story that took place back in 2003. During summer league, an undrafted undersized big man stole the show for the Spurs due to his relentless play and his toughness. Near the end of summer league, San Antonio offered him a partially guaranteed one-year contract. But right before he signed it, the Heat approached him offering him a partially guaranteed two-year contract.
Nearly two decades later, Udonis Haslem is still with the Heat and the Spurs still rue the day they let their summer league standout slip away.