Caleb Martin offers details on how J. Cole’s relationship with Miami Heat assistant paved way for him to land with team

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Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Heat small forward Caleb Martin played a crucial role with the team as a rotation player both in the 2021-22 regular season as well as in the team’s subsequent playoff run.

Martin did not take a traditional route to the NBA. He entered the league as an undrafted free agent back in the 2019-20 season and spent two seasons with the Charlotte Hornets.

As it turns out, Martin joining the Heat required a bit of luck. Rapper J. Cole’s relationship with Heat assistant coach Caron Butler actually helped Martin earn his spot with the team.

“J. Cole ended up having a connection with Caron here, which I didn’t know about before,” Martin said to the Miami Herald. “That was after I got waived and he just saw how tough the process was on me trying to figure out my next move and he just wanted to see if he could help and use his connect.”

Butler listened to J. Cole and invited Martin to an open scrimmage in South Florida last summer. Martin took full advantage of the opportunity and eventually earned a two-way contract from the organization.

“He was huge, man,” Martin said of the superstar rapper. “Because I think here at the time, they already had a two-way in mind before I was even a thought. I think the fact that he reached out [to Butler] — they were boys, they were cool. I think it obviously helped that I played in the league for two years. But yeah, I just think that it would have been tough to come here and put myself in front of these guys if it wasn’t for [J. Cole]. So a good amount of it was due to him, for sure.”

It’s a pretty amazing story, and it highlights just how uncertain things can be for undrafted players even after seemingly proving that they belong in the NBA.

Martin has certainly made it clear that he belongs now. In 60 regular season games in the 2021-22 campaign, he averaged 9.2 points in just 22.9 minutes of playing time per game. He shot a blistering 50.7 percent from the field and 41.3 percent from deep.

Now, Martin is set to become a restricted free agent this summer. He is likely to earn a nice boost in income, and he surely deserves it.

Whether or not he gets that raise from the Heat or a team elsewhere in the league remains to be seen.

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Jonathan is a freelance writer, filmmaker, and passionate fan of the NBA. In the past Jonathan has covered politics, entertainment, travel, and more. He is a proud contributor of Heat Nation.