Caleb Martin on Rejecting Bigger Offer from Heat – ‘Live and Learn’

Caleb Martin on Rejecting Bigger Offer from Heat – ‘Live and Learn’

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

“Some things didn’t work out,” Martin said Tuesday at the Sixers’ complex in New Jersey. “A lot of things happened behind the scenes. At the end of the day, a lot of things contributed to this decision. A lot of things contributed to how it all happened. But the past is the past, there’s nothing you can do about it. I’m looking forward to being here and being a part of Philly and trying to do everything I can to try to win a championship. That’s my main goal right now.”

Martin, 28, averaged 8.5 points in five seasons, including the last three with the Heat. It was in Miami that Martin earned a reputation for elevating his play in the playoffs.

He will likely fill a starting job left vacant in Philadelphia, where the 76ers have been overhauling their roster after another early playoff exit. They spent more than $400 million to sign George from the Clippers and keep their homegrown All-Star guard Tyrese Maxey on the team 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 past the second round since 2001 are designed to put the Sixers in contention with NBA champion Boston and put pressure on New York, Indiana and even Milwaukee to at least remain a threat in the East.

Martin went undrafted 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 released and joining the Heat ahead of the 2021-22 season.

Martin remained loyal to Miami and ultimately became a star of the 2023 playoffs when he pushed the Heat all the way 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 percent shooting and scored a career-high 26 points in the playoffs on the Boston court in Game 7 of the 2023 Eastern Conference Finals. He was solid in the first two rounds this season against No. 1 Milwaukee and No. 5 New York, averaging 10.8 points on nearly 53 percent shooting.

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

“I mean, you’re always going to want to make as much money as you can,” Martin said. “That’s part of the game, that’s part of life. You live and you learn. You take risks. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t.”

The Associated Press contributed to this article.