Leonard, 28, started 49 of 51 regular-season games for Miami before the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered play. Once the season resumed inside the Orlando campus, Leonard’s playing time became all but non-existent as head coach Erik Spoelstra elected to use a smaller lineup.
The four-year, $41MM deal Leonard signed with Portland in 2016 concluded after his lone season in Miami. Now the opportunity to compete for a championship — just like the Heat did in Orlando this year — is the goal.
“Now, it’s not even about the money or the one year for me,” Leonard said. “I know going into free agency, what I want is to compete in the playoffs and to compete for a championship, and I want to have a significant impact.
“Whether it’s starting or coming off the bench, I’m thinking 20 to 25 minutes. I feel that I’ve shown people, no question about it, that I can be impactful on both sides of the ball every single night, and that I certainly do bring value.”
In 444 career games, Leonard has averages of 5.6 PPG and 3.9 RPG as a primary bench piece. And while he suggested he may be open to a new opportunity, he made sure to mention his affinity for the Heat.
“What I do know is I truly love winning and I really loved being part of this quote, unquote Heat culture, I really did,” he said.