Unfortunately, the Heat couldn’t afford to keep guard Kendrick Nunn, who was due for a massive pay buy bump this summer as a restricted free agent. While Miami initially extended Nunn the $4.7 million qualifying offer on July 31, that offer was rescinded on August 3, making him an unrestricted free agent.
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Later that day, Nunn took a pay cut to ink a two-year, $10 million contract to take his talents to the Los Angeles Lakers. His “deal includes a player option,” The Athletic’s Shams Charania tweeted. “Nunn turned down significantly more money to chase a title with the Lakers.”
However, the Lakers team looks significantly different now than it did on August 3. A whole slew of veteran stars have joined LeBron James and Anthony Davis in Los Angeles, including former Washington Wizards’ point guard Russell Westbrook. On Monday, the Lakers kept growing, adding point guard Rajon Rondo after he was bought out by the Memphis Grizzlies.
If Nunn, 26, was looking to be the main backup for Westbrook, he now faces heavy competition for minutes not just from Rondo, 35, but from shooting guards Malik Monk and Wayne Ellington, who are competing for minutes behind Talen Horton-Tucker.
While the Lakers are still heavily favored to reclaim their title as the Western Conference champions, it’s a wonder if Nunn will enjoy the journey if he’s riding the bench the whole time. The break-up between Nunn and the Heat may turn out to be a regrettable decision for both parties.
The Heat Have ‘a Plan’ to Use Gabe Vincent as Lowry’s Backup
Instead of signing a new player and going over the luxury tax threshold, Five Reasons Sports Network tweeted that the Heat “plan” to offer the role of Lowry’s backup to Gabe Vincent.
Vincent, 25, signed a two-year $3.5 million deal with Heat last week, his first standard contract with the franchise after being one of the team’s two-way contract players during the 2020-21 season. The 6-foot-3 guard’s new contract comes after Vincent busted out as Team Nigeria’s star going into the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The former G-Leaguer scored 6-of-8 on threes during Team Nigeria’s exhibition game against Team U.S.A, drilling a total of 21 points and four assists.
Last year, Vincent played the maximum 50 games allotted for two-way players but struggled with efficiency. He averaged 4.8 points, 1.1 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game while shooting 37.8% from the floor and 30.9% on threes.
Lowry’s Age & Vincent’s Reliability Remains a Concern
Lowry is undoubtedly the most exciting addition to the Heat’s roster, as he’s one of the top point guards in the entire league. Last season, Lowry averaged 17.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 7.3 assists per game. The main concern is Lowry’s age. The six-time All-Star is 35 and will likely need to take more breaks than a typical starting point guard.
While it was expected for Vincent to provide occasional support off the bench, being Lowry’s backup puts a lot more responsibility on his shoulders.