The Trail Blazers and center Meyers Leonard have failed to reach an extension agreement, Jason Quick of CSNNW.com tweets. Leonard can become a restricted free agent in July. Leonard hopes to pump up his value with a strong season, Quick adds in a separate tweet. “I’m betting on myself,” he told Quick.
That appears to be a sound strategy, considering that several teams have been quietly rooting for Leonard to enter the free agent market, according to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Leonard’s salary for this season is $3,075,880. The team has until the end of June to extend the qualifying offer of $4,210,880 that would make Leonard a restricted free agent.
Neil Olshey, the Blazers’ president of basketball operations, delayed the negotiation process because he wanted to avoid drawn-out negotiations with Leonard’s agent Aaron Mintz, Quick reported in late October. The Blazers wanted to preserve cap space for next summer by putting off the extension, Quick pointed out, because the first year of his salary would have counted against the cap if they had signed him before the deadline.
Leonard is averaging 7.0 points and 4.0 rebounds through the team’s first three games after averaging 5.9 points and 4.5 rebounds during his third NBA season.