Miami Heat 14th Roster Spot: Erik Spoelstra Favorite Still a FA

Erik Spoelstra, Miami Heat coach, needs another player for his 14th roster spot.

Getty Erik Spoelstra, Miami Heat coach, needs another player for his 14th roster spot.

All things being equal for Miami, based on team need, familiarity and the satisfaction of righting a wrong, signing free-agent guard Kendrick Nunn to fill the Miami Heat’s 14th roster spot is probably the best thing Miami could do as we careen toward the start of the NBA season.

It is, after all, the Heat’s fault that Nunn is in the situation he’s in today, jobless and lower down on the financial scale than he ought to be.

Nunn is not old—he’s only 28. He was not a star last season by any stretch, but he did play in 70 games, during which he posted credible numbers (7.1 points, 42.4% shooting, 35.4% from the 3-point line). He was better after he arrived in Washington following a trade out of Los Angeles, and made 39.2% of his 3s in 31 games as a Wizard.

Nunn is still a free agent. Asked about it in his mailbag this week, Sun-Sentinel Heat beat writer Ira Winderman did not shoot down the idea of Nunn coming aboard altogether, though he did note it would likely have to be a non-guaranteed deal:

“While the Heat’s commitment is to those already in camp, to give them a fair shot after the time those prospects have invested since August on the practice court, it certainly is not beyond the realm, as mentioned above, to fill the 14th spot on the standard roster with an outsider. Much of that deliberation could come down to whether the Heat believe they have the required depth at point guard, as well as whether such an outside candidate would be willing to accept a non-guaranteed contract.”

Miami Heat Need to Fill 14th Roster Spot

There ae candidates for the still-open Miami Heat 14th roster spot, but none with Nunn’s qualifications. For one thing, he was a favorite of coach Erik Spoelstra during his time in Miami.

Since the Heat have already brought back Josh Richardson, and because they’re still thin at point guard following the departures of Gabe Vincent and Victor Oladipo, it might be nice to have Nunn back where he started his career, which has gone sideways since he left Miami.

As a rookie, Nunn opened eyes across the NBA by averaging 15.1 points. He was solid in his second season, too, but it was after that year that he got a raw deal from the Heat. Nunn hit restricted free agency in 2021 and was given a qualifying offer of $4.7 million, which allowed Miami to match any deal Nunn got.

But once the team landed Kyle Lowry, re-signed Duncan Robinson on a five-year, $90 million deal and started poking around for veterans like P.J. Tucker and Markieff Morris, the Heat decided Nunn’s money could be better used elsewhere.

So, they rescinded Nunn’s qualifying offer and made him an unrestricted free agent–on August 3, more than a month after the start of free agency. Instead of a big payday, Nunn got a two-year, $10 million deal from the Lakers, with a second-year option.

NBPA President Criticized Heat

Of course, it’s not the Heat’s fault that Nunn then injured his knee and missed an entire season once he got to the Lakers. But it is a good example of why players need to maximize every contract they can get, and the Heat damaged Nunn’s ability to do that.

Nunn played half a season with the Lakers before he was dealt to Washington as salary filler in the Rui Hachimura trade. Players association president C.J. McCollum was not happy about the situation, and called out the Heat on Adrian Wojnarowski’s podcast.

“He was going to be a free agent,” McCollum said that summer. “They basically waited until the money dried up, right? You correct me if I’m wrong. Have you seen this happening in the league and not being discussed at all, where they talk about players forcing their way out, player movement, but then what about the manipulation that goes into some of these situations where teams are waiting for the market to dry up before they release a player’s rights?”

They can’t change the past but maybe giving Nunn a shot now that he needs one could make the Heat feel better about their present and future. Signing Kendrick Nunn to fill the Miami Heat’s 14th roster spot is not pure altruism, either—he could very well prove he can still play.

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