As they await a resolution to Damian Lillard’s trade request, the Miami Heat have begun the process of filling out their training camp roster by agreeing to deals with two sharpshooters.
The Heat over the weekend agreed to sign forward Cole Swider to an Exhibit 10 contract, according to multiple reports. The Heat have also verbally agreed on an Exhibit 10 contract with Drew Peterson, sources told the Miami Herald.
Peterson was a standout on Miami’s Summer League roster, so that he received a training camp invite is not surprising. Peterson, 23, went undrafted out of USC this year. The 6-foot-9 forward shot 47.1% on 4.3 3-point attempts for the Heat in Las Vegas Summer League last month.
Of the two, Swider is less known to Heat fans. Swider played most of last season as part of the Lakers’ G League affiliate and became a free agent when Los Angeles waived him late last month. Swider, 24, has a track record of making shots from the perimeter. In the G League last season, he averaged 17.1 points while shooting 43.6% on 7.6 3-point attempts per game for the South Bay Lakers. In his seven NBA appearances, he went 3 of 8 (37.5%) from beyond the arc. In four years at Syracuse, Swider made 38.1% of his 3s.
At 6-foot-9, Swider’s combination of size and shooting makes him the kind of player the Heat have had success developing in the past. With Max Strus having signed with Cleveland as a free agent and Duncan Robinson’s future in question amid the Lillard trade speculation, Swider enters Miami’s developmental pipeline at the right time.
Swider could compete for one of Miami’s two-way contracts during training camp. The Heat currently have Jamaree Bouyea and Dru Smith occupying two of their three two-way spots, as Jamal Cain (who finished last season on a two-way) waits to sign a standard, 15-man roster contract with Miami or another team. Two-way spots can be swapped out at any time without impact to the salary cap. Bouyea and Smith will also be involved at training camp, but Smith’s position is precarious after an up-and-down Summer League showing.
It’s important to note that Swider and Peterson’s deals are verbal agreements. The Heat cannot officially sign players to Exhibit 10 contracts (a deal that typically represents a training-camp invite) until they have 14 players under standard contracts. The Heat currently have 13, with the roster in a holding period because of the Lillard situation. These verbal agreements are a sort of work-around.
Despite the uncertainty around Lillard, the Heat are still moving to replenish their farm system. The team already saw two success stories — Strus and Gabe Vincent — depart via free agency and more could be on the way out in a potential Lillard deal. Given the Heat’s track record for development, any player they invite to training camp is worth paying some attention to.