Gardner Makes NBA Summer League Debut

The show goes on for former Marist Red Fox Patrick Gardner, who scored 6 points in his NBA Summer League debut for the Miami Heat, in a 95-83 loss to the Sacramento Kings at the California Classic.

Though Gardner did not hear his name called in the 2023 NBA Draft, it did not take long for him to agree to a deal with the Miami Heat shortly after the draft ended. The deal came with an invite to NBA Summer League, giving Gardner a chance to prove himself in hopes of making the team. 

The Heat kicked off their Summer League campaign with a two-game set in Sacramento for the California Classic, facing off with the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings. After a coaches decision DNP in Miami’s first game on Monday, Gardner would get his first look at NBA action in Miami’s second matchup with the host team, the Sacramento Kings.

While Keegan Murray, the fourth overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, stole the show with 41 points on Wednesday night, Gardner was a steady contributor for Miami. First checking in over seven minutes into the first quarter, Gardner would make his first basket before the quarter expired.  

Gardner got another point at the free throw line in the second quarter, then a smooth three pointer to cut the Kings lead to one point with under a minute remaining in the third quarter.

The Kings would pull away in the fourth quarter, ultimately winning 95-83. In a little over 15 minutes of play, Gardner finished with 6 points, making two of his three shots. He also added four rebounds and a steal in his professional debut, and his +/- of four was the second highest on the team. 

After wrapping up the California Classic, Miami travels to Las Vegas to continue their Summer League action. With the Heat assured at least five more games, Gardner will have some more opportunities to earn a spot on the Heat’s regular season roster, or their G-League affiliate team, the Sioux Falls Skyforce.

With star Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard requesting the trade less than a week ago, and his preferred destination being Miami, it should make for an interesting summer for the Heat. Portland may be eyeing some of the Heat’s Summer League roster for pieces of a potential return for Lillard. Second year forward Nikola Jovic, and the newly signed rookie, Jaime Jaquez Jr., who was taken with the 18th overall pick in this year’s draft are names that fans believe may be involved if the trade gets completed. 

A trade involving multiple young members of the Heat could help further open the door for Gardner to secure a spot with the Heat or their developmental squad, the Skyforce. 

Gardner and the Heat are back in action this Saturday, against the Boston Celtics at Cox Pavillion in Las Vegas. The game is set to tip off at 3:00 pm and will be streamed on NBA TV.

Photo From Marist Athletics

Edited By Dan Aulbach

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