It’s not a surprise the Miami Heat and Kendrick Nunn parted ways earlier this summer. The Heat’s sign-and-trade for Kyle Lowry made him a franchise anchor, along with Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. Miami prioritized retaining Duncan Robinson. And there’s the question of whether keeping Nunn would’ve held back Tyler Herro’s development.
The Heat pulled their qualifying offer for Nunn, making him an unrestricted free agent. He then signed with the Los Angeles Lakers. But now, with both teams’ rosters more or less complete, we have to wonder if both sides will regret the breakup.
The news that the Lakers plan to sign Rajon Rondo adds to their glut in the backcourt. It appears that Russell Westbrook, Kent Bazemore and Talen Horton-Tucker have their rotation spots locked in. Malik Monk is good — remember this night? Wayne Ellington, another former Heat player, will get playing time if he makes 40 percent of his 3s.
With Rajon Rondo apparently on the verge of joining the Lakers, and with Russell Westbrook, Wayne Ellington, Malik Monk, Kent Bazemore and Talen Horton-Tucker there, it will be interesting to see what type of role Kendrick Nunn winds up with there.— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) August 28, 2021
Where does that leave Nunn? Will he become a situational player, called upon when Westbrook takes a night off for load management?
To be fair, the Heat also don’t have a permanent rotation spot for Nunn once Victor Oladipo comes back. But Oladipo won’t be back for the start of the season, which will leave Gabe Vincent with a bench role. Would any Miami fan rather have Vincent soak up those 15 minutes per night than Nunn early in the year?
Maybe Vincent’s time playing for Nigeria in the Olympics and for the Heat in the Summer League have turned him into a competent backup point guard. In that case, Miami would have made the wise move to give a temporary rotation spot to someone who took a minimum contract instead of paying the “repeater tax” to keep Nunn, who wouldn’t play once Oladipo returns.
That is one possibility. Another one is that the Heat lose the minutes Vincent plays, and Miami has to look to beef up their bench options in the backcourt. In that case, it would’ve been better to keep someone who knows the system and could fill the role.