Some of the Los Angeles Lakers free-agent signings from the 2023 offseason have been great so far — others, not so much. That is the nature of the beast in the NBA and not every player that is brought in is going to work out right away. Some players need time, others may never be what a team was expecting when pen hit paper.
Perhaps the most disappointing/concerning free-agent signing is Gabe Vincent. Los Angeles signed Vincent to a bigger deal than any other external free agent, giving him a three-year deal for $33 million. This was coming off of a playoff run with the Miami Heat that undoubtedly elevated his value, and should have worried Lakers fans in the process.
Vincent played poorly to kickstart his Lakers tenure and did not really get a chance to turn it around. After four mediocre games, Vincent suffered a knee injury and hasn’t been seen on the court since. Unfortunately, Vincent has not progressed as fans (or the team) would have hoped, as the latest injury update provided no real timeline of when he could be returning.
The two-week timeline from Thursday’s update means that Vincent will be evaluated a month after the last game he played. Just because he will be re-evaluated does not mean he will return right after. This is simply an NBA team’s way of kicking the can down the road.
Gabe Vincent is another cursed Lakers signing from the Miami Heat
Not only were there warning signs about Vincent himself that the Lake Show overlooked because of Vincent’s good playoff run, but there was recent history that the front office ignored as well. As the old saying goes, history repeats itself.
And it looks like history may yet again be repeating itself if this Vincent injury does not pan out. The Lakers have signed several players from the Miami Heat who ended up being flops for the team. This is not a strange phenomenon with no explanation, though. Fans just have to look at “Heat Culture” and realize that it elevates guys when they are in Miami.
But when they leave the Heat, and join a team that does not have that same solid coaching staff in place, their flaws are typically revealed.
Kendrick Nunn is the most recent example of this and the parallels between him and Vincent are a bit too concerning. Both were viewed as steals by the fanbase as both showcased promising signs in Miami. Nunn never played his first season because of a knee injury that, at first, didn’t appear to be all that serious. When he eventually did play, he was awful and was traded.
There is a lot of mystique in the air around Vincent’s injury so there is no telling how long he might be out of action. He absolutely could end up being out as long as Nunn was when he suffered his injury.
Also signed the same offseason as Nunn was Trevor Ariza, who played 30 solid games for the Heat and looked crisp in the four playoff games that he did play. Ariza would play just 24 games for the Lakers during the 2021-22 season and was not great in those games. He has not been in the NBA since.
Heck, the team even took a flier on Dion Waiters during the 2019-20 season. Waiters was signed right before the season shut down and he didn’t hurt the team negatively at all but it showcases Rob Pelinka’s affinity for signing former Heat players.
The worst of all, though, came before Pelinka got the job. With a massive salary cap spike in 2016 because of a new TV deal, moves like Kevin Durant to the Golden State Warriors were possible. While Golden State did that, the Lakers committed $136 million to Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov.
Deng was coming off of a two-year stint with the Miami Heat where he looked solid. The Lakers undoubtedly overpaid him but at least the team would get a solid veteran presence that they could rely on. That was not the case at all. Deng’s contract infamously became one of the worst in franchise history and he played only 57 total games for the Lake Show.
Moving forward, maybe don’t sign a player from the Miami Heat?