Meyers Leonard

Heat Granted Disabled Player Exception For Leonard

The Heat have been granted a disabled player exception as a result of Meyers Leonard‘s season-ending shoulder injury, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

A salary cap exception designed to give teams extra flexibility when a player suffers a major injury, the disabled player exception can be used to sign a free agent, to claim a player off waivers, or to acquire a player in a trade. The exception can only be used on a single player and can only accommodate a player on a one-year deal. A free agent signee can’t get a multiyear contract, and any trade or waiver target must be in the final year of his contract.

Miami’s new DPE has a value of $4.7MM – half of Leonard’s $9.4MM salary for 2020/21 – so any player signed or acquired with the exception can’t be earning more than that amount (plus $100K). The deadline to use it is April 19.

[RELATED: 2020/21 NBA Disabled Player Exceptions]

The Heat used their full mid-level exception during the offseason to sign Avery Bradley and Maurice Harkless, but still have their $3.6MM bi-annual exception, along with a $7.5MM trade exception that expires on March 22, so they have a few options available if they want to target a player in free agency or on the trade market.

Miami does, however, currently have 15 players on guaranteed contracts, and none of those exceptions – including the DPE – allow the team to add an extra player to its 15-man roster. So in order to use any of their exceptions, the Heat will have to trade or release one of their current players.

Heat Notes: Leonard, Nunn, Cap Exceptions, Herro

The Heat will be without Meyers Leonard for the rest of the season following the season-ending procedure he underwent on his shoulder on Tuesday. While the veteran big man hasn’t been a regular part of Miami’s rotation since last February, his teammates will miss his presence in the locker room, according to Anthony Chiang and Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

“He’s one of the best teammates I’ve had, as far as his leadership and his voice,” Tyler Herro said of Leonard. “When he steps into a room or a locker room, he’s always heard and he’s always preaching the right thing.”

“He was always encouraging guys,” Goran Dragic added. “He was the most vocal guy on our team. We’re definitely going to miss him.”

It’s possible Leonard has played his last game for the Heat, since the team is unlikely to pick up his $10.2MM team option for 2021/22.

Here’s more out of Miami:

  • After starting two games for the Heat last week, Kendrick Nunn has fallen out of the team’s rotation for the last two games. Still, even with Miami’s roster closer to full strength, that likely won’t be permanent. “He’s right there. We are finally at a point in the season where we have to make some tough decisions and that’s not an easy decision for the head coach,” Erik Spoelstra said, per Chiang and Jackson. “Guys just need to continue to stay ready and do whatever is necessary to help us get on track and play more consistently.” Nunn would meet the starter criteria and increase the value of his qualifying offer if he starts five more games this season.
  • The Heat have no shortage of salary cap exceptions available, according to Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel, who expects the team will be approved for a $4.7MM disabled player exception following Leonard’s surgery. That DPE would supplement Miami’s $7.5MM trade exception and its $3.6MM bi-annual exception. If the club wants to use any of those exceptions, it would mean trading or releasing a player currently on the roster, since the 17-man squad is full.
  • Tyler Herro, who briefly entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols over the weekend before being cleared, explained on Tuesday that his girlfriend recorded a false positive COVID-19 test (Twitter link via Winderman). Once she recorded two negatives, Herro was cleared to rejoin the Heat without missing any games.

Heat’s Leonard Undergoes Shoulder Surgery, Out For Season

5:57pm: Leonard underwent surgery on Tuesday, Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press tweets.

4:33pm: Heat center Meyers Leonard will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

Leonard has only appeared in three games this season, most recently on January 9. He strained his left shoulder in that game against the Wizards.

Injuries have dogged Leonard since he entered the league in 2012/13. He’s never played in more than 74 regular-season games. In his first season with the Heat last year, he started 49 of 51 regular-season contests and averaged 6.1 PPG and 5.1 RPG in 2o.3 MPG. He only saw action in three games during Miami’s postseason run to the Finals.

Leonard re-signed with the Heat on a two-year deal in November. He’s making $9.4MM this season but the team holds an option for 2021/22 worth $10.152MM. Leonard’s season-ending injury makes it even more unlikely the organization will exercise that option.

Miami has a full roster but could apply for a disabled player exception with Leonard sidelined for the season. It’d be worth $4.7MM if granted.

Eight Heat Players Unavailable Due To COVID-19 Protocols

3:58pm: In addition to Bradley, the Heat will be without the following players for Tuesday’s game in Philadelphia due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, per Reynolds (Twitter link): Jimmy Butler, Goran Dragic, Bam Adebayo, Kendrick Nunn, Maurice Harkless, Udonis Haslem, and KZ Okpala.

That would leave the team with nine available players, assuming everyone else is healthy. Meyers Leonard (shoulder) is currently listed as questionable, while Kelly Olynyk (groin) and Gabe Vincent (knee) are probable, Reynolds notes (via Twitter).

2:14pm: The Heat are preparing to be without “at least five” players for the next several days due to possible exposure to the coronavirus, reports Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press.

Miami didn’t have the required minimum of eight players available on Sunday due to an inconclusive COVID-19 test and subsequent contact tracing, per Shams Charania of The Athletic. As a result, the team’s scheduled game in Boston was postponed. Subsequently, the Heat spent Sunday and Monday awaiting the results of the NBA’s contact tracing investigation to find out which players may be required to self-isolate for the next week, says Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald.

According to Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel, the Heat are arranging for the players who need to self-isolate due to contact tracing to fly back to Miami on a private plane. The player who tested positive for COVID-19 will be sequestered in a hotel, while the rest of the team flies to Philadelphia in anticipation of playing vs. the Sixers.

Based on Winderman’s report, it sounds like the Heat expect to have enough players to resume their schedule on Tuesday vs. Philadelphia, though we don’t know yet who will and won’t be available. Avery Bradley‘s absence due to the league’s health and safety protocols was the only one reported on Sunday — all signs point to Bradley being the player who tested positive for the coronavirus, Winderman notes, but that hasn’t been confirmed.

Eastern Contract Details: Heat, Rondo, Harris, Clark, Raptors

Although Maurice Harkless‘ one-year, $3.623MM deal is exactly the same amount as the bi-annual exception, the Heat completed the signing using a portion of their mid-level exception, according to Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Avery Bradley received the remaining portion of the $9.258MM MLE, for a first-year salary of $5.635MM, Smith adds (via Twitter).

The Heat will still be hard-capped as a result of using the full mid-level exception, but they now retain their bi-annual exception to use either this season or next year, if they remain over the cap in 2021/22.

Smith (Twitter link) also passes along the exact details on Meyers Leonard‘s new contract with the Heat, which has a $9.4MM first-year salary and a team option for 2021/22 worth $10.152MM.

Here are a few more specific details on some of the new free agent contracts signed in the last couple days, via Smith unless otherwise indicated:

  • Rajon Rondo‘s two-year, $15MM deal with the Hawks has matching cap hits of $7.5MM this season and next year. It also includes $750K in annual bonuses – tied to games played and playoff appearances – that could increase the annual value to $8.25MM (Twitter link).
  • Joe Harris‘ new four-year contract with the Nets technically has a base value of $72MM, with $500K in annual bonuses tied to games played, playoff games played, and team performance (Twitter link).
  • The Magic used part of their mid-level exception to sign Gary Clark to a contract starting at $2MM. His $2.1MM second-year salary won’t become guaranteed until seven days after the 2021 moratorium (Twitter link).
  • The Raptors‘ deals for Aron Baynes, Chris Boucher, and DeAndre’ Bembry will all be non-guaranteed in year two rather than technically featuring team options, tweets Michael Grange of That means they’ll have to be waived next summer if Toronto doesn’t want to retain them for two years.

Southeast Notes: Hayward, Bryant, Wall, Heat

The Hornets made one of the biggest and most controversial splashes in free agency, signing injury-prone forward Gordon Hayward to a four-year, $120MM contract. Due to injuries and the development of his Boston teammates, Hayward was never able to return to his All-Star form while with the Celtics.

Although the Hornets’ $120MM commitment to Hayward is widely viewed as an overpay, it didn’t come out of left field. In today’s edition of The Lowe Post podcast, Zach Lowe of ESPN suggests that the Hornets’ offer to Hayward was not significantly higher than that of some competing clubs hoping for his services in free agency.

“You want to clown the contract?” Lowe said (per RealGM). “That’s fine. Just know it’s not like the Pacers and the Celtics were offering $80MM. They weren’t offering $120MM. But my best intel is something like $105MM, $108MM, $102MM, $110MM.”

Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer examines Hayward’s fit with the Hornets, conceding that the deal is probably an overpay. However, he also contends that Hayward can supply veteran leadership to the Hornets’ young core while being by far their best player, if healthy. Hayward will be leaned on to supply multifaceted scoring and is an expert play-maker. He also will be able to convincingly slot into the lineup at small forward, power forward, and even shooting guard.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:
  • Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard said today that the team informed every center it spoke to in free agency that Thomas Bryant would remain the Wizards’ starter, according to Quinton Mayo of NBC Sports Washington (Twitter link). “Certainly probably rubbed some guys the wrong way who thought they could come in here and start,” Sheppard said. The club ultimately signed Robin Lopez to back up Bryant.
  • Beyond the churning NBA rumor mill, Wizards point guard John Wall has remained active during the offseason. Wall will purchase an ownership stake in the Australian NBL club the South East Melbourne Phoenix, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. Los Angeles entrepreneur Romie Chaudhari heads the ownership group for the Phoenix, which also includes and Cavaliers reserve guard Dante Exum, plus retired big men Zach Randolph and Al Harrington and retired swingman Josh Childress.
  • Point guard Goran Dragic and backup center Meyers Leonard are excited to return to the Heat, according to Joe Beguiristain of Miami prioritized re-signing both players to lucrative two-year contracts with team options for the second year. “When free agency hit, we pretty much made our quick deal,” Dragic commented. “First of all, it felt like there was unfinished business for our team and for me because, obviously, going through the ankle injury was not easy, and I feel like I could have helped in many different ways,” Leonard said.

Heat Re-Sign Meyers Leonard

NOVEMBER 22: Leonard has put pen to paper on his new contract, making it official, the Heat announced (via Twitter).

NOVEMBER 20: Free agent center Meyers Leonard tells Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press (Twitter link) that he plans to re-sign with the Heat.

He’ll get a two-year deal that includes a team option on year two, according to Reynolds, who adds (via Twitter) that the deal is expected to start at around $9MM. It’ll be worth close to $20MM overall, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). The second-year team option will allow the Heat to protect their cap room for 2021.

I wanted nothing more than to come back to Miami. Literally nothing more,” Leonard told Reynolds (Twitter link).

Leonard, 28, was the Heat’s starting center for most of the 2019/20 season, averaging 6.1 PPG and 5.1 RPG with a solid .509/.414/.643 shooting line in 51 games (20.3 MPG). He saw his role reduced in the postseason, but Miami was still interested in continuing the relationship going forward.

Heat president Pat Riley indicated earlier this week that he wanted to “run this thing back” with the squad that made it to the NBA Finals this year, and it sounds like the team is making good on that vow. In addition to reaching an agreement with Leonard, the Heat have already struck a deal to re-sign Goran Dragic.

Heat Notes: Leonard, Carey, Achiuwa, Scrubb

Reiterating a point he made in a previous interview, Heat center Meyers Leonard told Jeremy Werner of that when he considers his options in free agency, he’ll be looking for a spot where he can contend, rather than one where he can try to put up big numbers.

“I don’t give a damn about numbers. I care about winning,” Leonard said. “I think that they knew that in Miami. I know that (coach Erik Spoelstra) and my teammates sure as hell did. I would tell Bam (Adebayo) often, ‘I don’t give a damn about rebound numbers. You go grab 15, and I’ll block out their best rebounder and you come grab them.'”

Leonard also said that he thinks a reunion is a possibility, but that he’s prepared to consider other landing spots if the Heat decide to move on.

“The NBA is a business. I think there’s mutual interest between Miami and I, but we’ll see,” he said. “There’s other teams that are very interested. I’m in a good spot.”

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • The Heat conducted a private, in-person workout last week with Duke big man Vernon Carey Jr., according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (Twitter link). Carey is only the No. 43 prospect on ESPN’s big board but has received some first-round buzz and could be an option for Miami at No. 20.
  • Carey is far from the only draft-eligible frontcourt player receiving interest from the Heat. The team also recently worked out Memphis’ Precious Achiuwa and has interest in Maryland’s Jalen Smith, Jackson writes for The Herald. ESPN ranks both players in its top 20.
  • The Heat have conducted two interviews with 6’6″ shooting guard Jay Scrubb, a source tells Jackson. The No. 76 prospect on ESPN’s board, Scrubb is considered one of 2020’s best junior college prospects. Within the same Herald article, Jackson notes that Miami has also interviewed Stanford guard Tyrell Terry.

Meyers Leonard Talks Upcoming Free Agency

Heading into free agency, big man Meyers Leonard is focused less on the money and more on the opportunity, Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel writes.

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.

Heat Notes: Leonard, Jones, Dragic

After serving as the Heat‘s starting center for most of the season, Meyers Leonard has fallen almost entirely out of the rotation during the playoffs. His starts in place of Bam Adebayo in Games 2 and 3 of the NBA Finals were just his second and third appearances of the postseason, and even with Adebayo sidelined, his role has been limited — he played a total of 22 minutes in those two games.

Meanwhile, Derrick Jones, who averaged 24.5 minutes per contest in 51 games prior to the NBA’s stoppage in March, saw his minutes cut back during the seeding games and again during the playoffs. He has been a DNP-CD in four postseason games and has averaged just 6.8 MPG in the team’s other 14 contests.

Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel wonders if the reduced roles for Leonard and Jones as of late signal that the two players are likely to leave the Heat in free agency this fall. At one point, Winderman writes, it seemed likely that the team would attempt to re-sign both players, especially if they were open to one-year deals. That no longer seems likely, in Winderman’s view, though he suggests the club still could attempt to bring back Jones if Jae Crowder signs elsewhere.

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • In a separate article for The Sun Sentinel, Winderman speculates that the Heat will, at the very least, present Goran Dragic with a “sizeable” one-year contract offer this offseason. Dragic was one of the team’s top producers earlier in the postseason while playing with foot discomfort — now that he has been sidelined with a more serious foot injury, Winderman expects Miami to take care of him once he reaches free agency.
  • The Heat’s return to the NBA Finals this fall happened two years ahead of the team’s hoped-for schedule, according to David Aldridge of The Athletic, who notes that Miami’s plan involved using its 2021 cap room to land a star who could help make the club a title contender. Given this year’s success, the Heat may be an even more appealing destination to those top 2021 free agents.
  • In case you missed it, Bam Adebayo (neck strain) plans to return for Game 4 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday. Goran Dragic (torn left plantar fascia) is expected to remain sidelined.