No one need tell Gabe Vincent that NBA life comes at you fast. On June 12, Vincent was in the Miami Heat’s starting lineup, playing in the NBA Finals, living the NBA dream. Less than three weeks later, he was a former member of the Miami Heat.
Now, five months later, Vincent laughs at the irony of it all, on the eve of what would have been his return to Kaseya Center, if not for a nagging knee injury. Going into last season’s playoffs, Vincent was a capable component of the Heat’s core, coming off a respectable if not overwhelming regular season. At that moment, he seemingly very much would fit into the Heat’s price point in free agency.
And then the playoffs happened, with Vincent in the starting lineup as the Heat pushed past the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round, in the starting lineup as the Heat pushed past the New York Knicks in the conference semifinals, in the starting lineup as the Heat pushed past the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals. Pushing past, in the process, opposing fellow starting point guards such as Jrue Holiday, Jalen Brunson and Marcus Smart. Suddenly, a valued component of a run within three wins of a championship. Suddenly, valued enough for the Los Angeles Lakers to offer $33 million over three years at the start of free agency, an offer Vincent couldn’t refuse.
I kind of thought I’d be back,” Vincent said by phone from Los Angeles this past week to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, with the Lakers to play Monday in Miami. “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.” No sooner did Vincent agree to terms with the Lakers, then the Heat, in a rare acknowledgment of financial terms, put out that the team had countered with $34 million over four seasons, more total cash, but decidedly less per season.