“Ex-Lakers G/F Cole Swider is signing a deal with the Miami Heat,” tweeted Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium on August 6.
Swider, 24, is a former undrafted free agent out of Syracuse University (by way of Villanova) who made just seven appearances with the Lakers during the regular season, averaging 1.3 points and 1.0 rebounds per game. But he averaged 17.1 points, 4.8 boards and 1.8 assists in 27 regular season appearances with the South Bay Lakers in the G League.
The 6-foot-9 forward shot 37.5% from beyond the arc with the Lakers and 43.6% in the G-League. He showed well this summer during Summer League in Las Vegas, too, averaging 15.2 points and 5.6 rebounds.
“Gods plan! Blessed for this opportunity,” Swider tweeted on August 6.
They do still have two regular roster spots open, though those slots could be filled with ready-made contributors rather than another project like Swider. And, with their three two-way contract spots already allocated to Colin Castleton, Alex Fudge, and D’Moi Hodge, there was no viable path to keeping Swider with the organization without wasting a roster spot.
As the Lakers try to maximize their window to win a title with LeBron James, the Heat appeared to be in a better position to make room for Swider.
“Heat deal with Cole Swider, which is an Exhibit 10 deal, cannot be official until Heat sign one more player to a standard deal,” tweeted Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel on August 6. “Swider deal essentially a camp invitation.”
Cole Swider Lands in Hotbed of Player Development
Swider has to look no further than Vincent — someone brought in by his former team — as a sign he made a sound choice for himself. Vincent, 27, is also a former undrafted free agent whose development in Miami culminated in a breakout performance (12.7 points per game) during their run to the NBA Finals.
He parlayed that run into a lucrative three-year, $33 million contract with the Lakers in free agency this offseason.
And it’s not just Vincent for whom Swider could be helping fill the void in Miami.
“With Max Strus and Gabe Vincent already gone, Heat could need insurance/Plan B with 3-point shooting in case Duncan Robinson and/or Tyler Herro sent out in deal for a possible Blazers point guard,” Winderman said in a follow-up tweet.
Swider is bigger and has already flashed being a better shooter than the 6-foot-3, 195-pound Vincent who shot 37.8% from deep in the postseason but is a 33.4% three-point shooter for his career. It stands to reason that Swider could land an even bigger payday if he follows a similar trajectory in his development.
Anthony Davis Gets Player Option
While Swider is on his way out, the Lakers made sure Anthony Davis wouldn’t be going anywhere, inking him to a three-year, $186 million extension that keeps him under contract through the 2027-28 season.
It’s the largest average annual value in NBA history.
But, per Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, there is a player option in the final year of the deal that could see Davis become an unrestricted free agent after the 2026-27 season. Just how that will play out remains to be seen, especially with LeBron James’ future still somewhat nebulous as he enters the first year of a two-year, $99 million deal with a player option for 2024-25.