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Hammons, Mickey front-runners for last Heat roster spots

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Will Hammons turn into another successful reclamation project for the Heat?

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat’s signing of Larry Drew II put their roster at 18. But teams can only have 15 players on their roster. And we may already have an idea of who will still wear a Heat jersey opening night.

The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson reported that center A.J. Hammonswhom Miami took in the Josh McRoberts trade — and power forward Jordan Mickey are front-runners for the Heat’s 14th and 15th spots. Jackson added that the Heat will also “give a legitimate look” at sharpshooter Matt Williams Jr.

As fellow Hot Hot Hoops writer Leonard Kreicas said, Hammons is known as a skilled 7-footer who has had a questionable work ethic. Similar concerns dogged Hassan Whiteside, who bounced around from the D-League to China and Lebanon before finding a home in Miami. Might the Heat have found someone who can at least serve as a quality backup for Whiteside, Bam Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk? Hammons will have to prove it.

Mickey appears to be more likely to make the roster -- he signed a guaranteed contract that includes a team option for the 2018-19 year. But would it make sense for the Heat to load up on front-court players in a league that is increasingly moving to more shooting and versatility?

That’s where Matt Williams Jr. comes in. He shot 45 percent on 3s for the Heat in the Vegas Summer League earlier this year. He won’t get much playing time — which 15th man does? — but it’s good to have shooters who can contribute when injuries occur. After all, who wants to go back to the days when the Heat somehow thought having Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Erick Dampier, Eddy Curry and Dexter Pittman on the same team was a good idea?

(As I’ve covered here, NBA teams can have two additional roster spots for players who sign “two-way contracts” that allow them to spend up to 45 days with them and the rest of the season in the developmental league.)