Miami Heat Sign Ex-Lakers 3-Point Specialist to Contract

Cole Swider, former Lakers 3-point specialist

Getty Cole Swider, former Lakers 3-point specialist

At long last, the Miami Heat have made a transaction. Alas, it’s got nothing to do with a Damian Lillard trade from the Trail Blazers.

Instead, the Heat inked former Lakers sharpshooter Cole Swider to a contract over the weekend, giving him a shot to earn a spot with the team on an Exhibit 10 deal. Swider will report to camp with the Heat and will have a shot to make the team on a regular contract or on a two-way contract.

Swider was undrafted out of Syracuse in 2022 and was on a two-way with the Lakers for the last year. He appeared in just seven games for L.A., scoring nine points on 3-for-8 3-point shooting in 41 total minutes.

He was considerably better for the South Bay Lakers, where he shot 43.6% from the 3-point arc in 27 games, trying 7.6 3s per game there. He was the seventh-most efficient G-League 3-point shooter among players with at least 5.0 attempts per game last year. In all, Swider averaged 17.1 points in 29.0 minutes.

Lillard or No, Heat Will Need Shooters

Following an offseason in which the Heat lost two of their three highest volume 3-point shooters—Max Strus, who led the team with 563 attempts last year but will play for Cleveland next season, and Gabe Vincent, now a Laker after shooting 350 3-pointers last year—there certainly could be a place for Swider on the Miami roster, if not the rotation.

The Heat currently have 13 spots filled, and have two of their three two-ways signed (though those are constantly subject to change), with point guard Jeramee Bouyea and shooting guard Dru Smith currently under contract. The Heat, with total salaries at roughly $178 million,  figure to be over the luxury tax threshold this season, though they are cognizant of the so-called “second apron” that kicks in at $182.5 million in payroll.

It could make sense for Miami to keep a player like Swider on a two-way as long as possible, to lessen the tax hit—even if the team did plan to add him to the roster eventually. The Heat did that with Caleb Martin two seasons ago.

Swider Made 38.1% on 3s in College

Swider, who spent three years at Villanova before transferring to the Orangemen for his senior season, was an excellent collegiate shooter, making 38.1% of his attempts in his four NCAA seasons. His resume in that department is well-established.

And Swider has the added bonus of potentially being useful to the Heat even if Miami finally pulls off a deal for Lillard. Such a deal would almost certainly include Tyler Herro, who hoisted the second-most total 3-pointers on the team, and could also include sharpshooter Duncan Robinson.

It is unclear what else the Heat might get back in that sort of trade, but it is almost a foregone conclusion that Herro would be at the center. And the Heat might not get back much more than Lillard himself—unless the Blazers convince the Heat to take back center Jusuf  Nurkic, who has three years and $55 million on his contract—as well.

Finding a third team to take on Herro remains a challenge for the Heat and Blazers in a possible trade. Assuming one gets done, though, a team built around Lillard, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo still would require ample spacing to allow room for those guys to work, and that is where Swider would be especially useful.


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