Gabe Vincent has learned to live in the moment, including these moments as starting point guard over the past six weeks for the Miami Heat.
But he also knows what’s ahead, to hit free agency in July.
So, yes, also an eye to the future, a future that during last season’s playoffs appeared would come with a significant payoff, earning unprompted praise from Trae Young, but a future now somewhat clouded by an uneven season, including scoring just three points on 1-of-5 shooting in Saturday night’s road loss to the Chicago Bulls.
“I think if someone told you they were in this situation and they didn’t think about it, they’d be lying to you,” Vincent said, with the Heat closing out the two-game trip Sunday night against the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena. “So it’s something that definitely comes across your mind that you do think about. But I don’t think it’s something that has impacted my play, per se.”
Like many on the roster, there have been a series of peaks and valleys for the fourth-year point guard, Saturday being one of the lower moments.
“We’ve played different brands of basketball throughout the season,” Vincent said. “I think anyone that watches the game can see that. And there’s been different stretches of guys having success and not having success, and I think maybe the style of play can have an effect on not just myself, but a number of other guys that may be role players on this team.
“So it’s been an up-and-down year for a number of guys and for this team overall. So I think it’s just a product of that, as well.”
Having gone undrafted out of UC-Santa Barbara in 2018, Vincent makes clear he takes nothing for granted.
“Obviously, being a guy that’s come up through the G League and had a different route than probably a majority of the NBA, that chip on my shoulder, that wanting to prove myself, I guess it doesn’t ever really go away,” he said. “But I feel like I have established myself in this league and showed everyone, all 30 teams, that I can play and I can help a team win.
“So in terms of being stressed out about it, I’m going to leave that to my agent and let him deal with it and just do what I can to help the Miami Heat the remainder of this year.”
For the moment, actually six weeks worth of moments, it has meant stepping in as the starting point guard, as Kyle Lowry slowly works his way back from a 15-game absence due to knee pain, with Lowry sitting out Saturday in Chicago.
“I think it’s something that this team and organization has trusted me with time and time again, whether it was Kyle out now or being injured and couldn’t play for a while in the playoffs last year,” Vincent, 26, said. “So I think I’ve earned their respect from them and the trust from them and my teammates to be able to step into that role.
“I know I’m capable of doing it. So their support means the world to me and I just try to go out there and help my teammates and help my team win.”
That doesn’t mean there hasn’t been an adjustment.
“I think it’s different when you’re starting the game against their starters,” he said. “I think most of my career in the NBA, per se, has been off the bench, and a lot of that is going against a warm starting unit or a cold second unit. Either I’ll come on the court before their second unit comes in, or I’ll come on after their second unit has been on and been a little warm and I’m a fresh body.
“So in that regard, it’s a little bit different, coming off the bench and to try to be a little bit of a spark and change the pace of the game. And as a starter, you’re trying to set the tone. So it’s a little bit of a different approach. But you obviously still want the same result.”
The expectation is that at some point before the start of the postseason, coach Erik Spoelstra will return Lowry to the starting lineup.
“I’m all about winning,” Vincent said. “I’m all about winning, and I think I’ve shown that by wearing different hats throughout my time here. So it’d be a no-brainer for me as coach, there’d be no fight back, no pushback, nothing. I’d think I’d still have all the respect and trust from my teammates. So I think I’d be fine, whatever he thinks is best.”