Gabe Vincent reflects on the end of his Miami Heat tenure: ‘I kind of thought I’d be back’'
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Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Former Miami Heat and current Los Angeles Lakers guard Gabe Vincent recently reflected on the end of his tenure in South Florida.

A key cog in Miami’s rotation for multiple seasons, Vincent found himself in the starting lineup during the team’s run to the NBA Finals last season.

During the Heat’s 2023 playoff run, Vincent averaged 12.7 points, 3.5 assists and 1.4 rebounds per game while shooting 40.2 percent from the field and 37.8 percent from beyond the arc.

He became a valuable commodity in free agency this past offseason, and the Lakers signed him to a three-year, $33 million deal as a result. It was an offer that Vincent couldn’t pass up, even if it wasn’t the outcome he was always expecting.

“I kind of thought I’d be back,” Vincent said of the Heat while speaking to the Sun Sentinel. “But things change. I had an opportunity to perform the way I did in the playoffs, and I think that changed drastically what my offseason looked like.”

Miami did counter the offer Vincent received from the Lakers, putting a four-year, $34 million contract on the table. While the offer was for one more season, it was for significantly less money per year.

After spending four seasons with Miami, Vincent has now returned closer to home — he grew up in Northern California. Vincent also played collegiately at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB).

“It wasn’t like I was looking to get back this way as soon as possible,” Vincent said of California. “My relationship with them (the Heat) is still very strong. It’s unfortunate that it didn’t work out, but it’s still business at the end of the day. And I had to make the best decision for my family.”

It would have been hard for Vincent to turn down a three-year deal worth $11 million per season to take a Miami offer that clocked in at less than $9 million per season.

“For me it was tough,” Vincent said. “Obviously the dollar figure matters; I am human. I’m not going to say that didn’t play a role. At the end of the day the money situation was interesting.”

It’s also possible that the Heat – who were rumored to be interested in star guard Damian Lillard via trade – had other offseason plans in mind.

Vincent acknowledged that he raised his value during the team’s shocking playoff run, which may have played a role in his offseason, with Miami not choosing to match the dollar figure he received as a free agent.

“I think the run we had shocked everyone,” Vincent said of the Heat making the NBA Finals last season. “I thought there’d be a place for me back there. And just unfortunately we just couldn’t come to an agreement. When things changed and I had an opportunity to play at a high level, I raised my value. I think that, alone, made it difficult. We were aware of that.”

During the regular season with Miami in the 2022-23 campaign, Vincent averaged 9.4 points, 2.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game while shooting 40.2 percent from the field and 33.4 percent from beyond the arc.

He’s come off the bench in all four games he’s played in with the Lakers, although he missed the team’s last contest against the Los Angeles Clippers with an injury. Unfortunately, he’ll also miss Monday’s reunion when the Lakers play the Heat in Miami.

As a Laker, Vincent has averaged 6.0 points and 3.0 assists per game. He’ll look to get things rolling once he’s able to play again.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.