Gabe Vincent explains how ‘business’ got in way of new deal with Miami Heat

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According to Gabe Vincent, he was looking to return to the Miami Heat, but the business side of NBA free agency led him to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers instead.

“So, it wasn’t easy, and I don’t think it’s any secret — I was pretty open about willing to go back and wanting to go back and my love for the organization, and I think it was pretty reciprocated,” Vincent said. “But when it came down to it, business got in the way, and there were certain points that the Heat could only get to, and other teams were able to get to more, and it just kind of made more sense at the end of the day. And business played a role, but also just situations, etc. So, L.A. was the play, and we’re looking forward to the future.”

Vincent agreed to a three-year, $33 million contract with the Lakers that became official on July 6. He played his first four NBA seasons for the Heat, who signed the undrafted University of California, Santa Barbara product in January 2020, almost two years after his final college season.

Last season was perhaps his best in the NBA so far, as he averaged 9.4 points per game while playing about 26 minutes per contest. But Vincent, who turned 27 in June, really took off in the playoffs by averaging 12.7 points in more than 30 minutes per game, helping Miami reach the NBA Finals.

It was thought that a longer tenure with Miami could be in the cards, but once free agency opened, Los Angeles moved quickly on the guard. The Lakers, who were swept by the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals, saw Vincent as a way to improve their backcourt.

His presence should help the Lakers form a nice guard rotation with Austin Reaves and D’Angelo Russell, who both re-signed with L.A. this offseason.

Miami, since the end of the season, has been frequently linked to Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard, and the delay in knowing how that will play out may have cost the Heat in their attempt to keep Vincent. Lillard’s potential departure from the Trail Blazers has been rumored the entire offseason, but the 32-year-old didn’t get around to requesting a trade until earlier this month after free agency started.

The Heat also lost Max Strus to the Cleveland Cavaliers via a sign-and-trade, and they likely will have to part with at least one player in any possible trade for Lillard. Vincent likely would have been a key player for the Heat in the 2023-24 season even if Lillard were on board.

Miami clearly found a diamond in the rough in the 27-year-old, which is just the kind of player a championship team needs to emerge. But if he is going to get a ring of his own, it is going to be elsewhere.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. His introduction to the business included the legendary Heat-Knicks rivalry from the 1990s.