MIAMI — It didn’t take long for forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. to see his name in NBA trade rumors.
Just days after the Heat selected Jaquez with the 18th overall pick in this year’s NBA draft in June, he was one of the players on Miami’s roster linked to a potential trade for Damian Lillard. That whirlwind of uncertainty lasted nearly three months.
But Jaquez survived that speculation and remains on the Heat’s roster, as the Portland Trail Blazers instead dealt Lillard to the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday.
“I won’t lie, at first it was in the back of my head,” Jaquez said earlier this week. “Like what’s going to happen? Am I going to leave? You never know. But as we moved on and time went on, I just got really comfortable in my situation that whatever happens happens. I just believe it’s all a part of a bigger plan. Things happen for a reason. If I stay, great. If I get traded, it was fun while it lasted. But I try not to worry about that. I can only control what I can control.”
Next up for the 22-year-old Jaquez is his first NBA training camp after spending the last four seasons at UCLA. The Heat hold their annual media day at Kaseya Center on Monday before opening training camp at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton on Tuesday.
Here’s the rest of the Miami Herald’s conversation with Jaquez ahead of his rookie season:
— Q: A shoulder injury cut your summer league short this offseason. How’s your shoulder, and how long did it take to recover from that?
— A: “It took a little while. After summer league, it still took some time to get back. But when I ended up coming here to Miami to start working out and getting into training, it started feeling a lot better. I’m good right now. I’ve been healthy, I’ve been working out every day with the team. I’m just trying to get in the best shape possible. I feel amazing. I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life right now.”
— Q: What’s changed about your body during your first few months in the Heat’s program?
— A: “I’ve gained weight, for sure. I stay pretty consistent in my weight fluctuation. But I’ve gained weight and cut down on body fat. So I’ve put on some muscle, which has been great. The strength team does a great job of keeping track of all that stuff and getting everybody in prime condition. So that’s what I’ve been doing. They’re happy and I’m happy.”
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