“There’s a truism in the NBA scouting world: Don’t sign Heat role players,” Pincus wrote.
“If Miami is letting them go, it’s for a reason—and they tend to over-perform for coach Erik Spoelstra.”
The Heat let two key role players walk this past offseason, as guard Gabe Vincent signed with the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency and sharpshooter Max Strus was dealt to Cleveland in a sign-and-trade deal.
The Lakers have been burned on two recent occasions of signing Heat role players, as Vincent has missed most of this season with a knee injury.
Previously, the Lakers had signed guard Kendrick Nunn in free agency from Miami. Nunn missed the entire 2021-22 season with a knee injury after signing with Los Angeles. He ended up returning for the 2022-23 season, but the Lakers traded him to the Washington Wizards after he played just 39 games for the franchise.
While it’s unfortunate that both players were injured – and signed with the Lakers as free agents – the Heat have been able to get a lot out of undrafted players in recent seasons.
Duncan Robinson, Strus, Vincent, Haywood Highsmith, Caleb Martin and others have carved out serious roles for the Heat, helping them make several deep playoff runs since the team signed star Jimmy Butler prior to the 2019-20 season.
Strus has a chance to change that narrative, as he’s played well for the Cavs this season. The sharpshooter is averaging 13.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game in the 2023-24 campaign, while shooting 40.3 percent from the field and 34.7 percent from 3.
Strus’ efficiency is down a bit from last season (41.0 percent from the field, 35.0 percent from 3), but he’s also taking more shots per game (12.2 per game this season versus 9.9 per game last season with Miami).
Pat Riley and the Heat front office seem to be able to replace players each season, and this season, the team has done that with first-round pick Jaime Jaquez Jr., who has taken on a major role for Miami with Strus and Vincent no longer on the roster.
It’ll be interesting to see how the next group of Heat free agents end up getting viewed in the market.