Meyers Leonard

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.

Southeast Notes: Leonard, Sheppard, Wizards, Hornets

Meyers Leonard has recovered from a severe ankle sprain he suffered in February, but his role with the Heat has completely changed, writes Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. Leonard was Miami’s starting center in 49 of the 51 games he played, but he has only been on the court for nine minutes in the playoffs.

“My team knows this, and our coaching staff knows this,” Leonard said. “I would do anything to be out there. And I’d be lying if I said that I’m not competitive as hell. I wish I was impacting the game on the floor. I’m not, but as a person and as a player, I want what’s best for everybody.”

Leonard was still recovering from the injury when the hiatus began in March, which caused team facilities to shut down and forced a change in his rehab process. Miami also switched to a smaller lineup after acquiring Jae Crowder and Andre Iguodala at the trade deadline. Coach Erik Spoelstra informed Leonard of his reduced role before the restart began.

“There’s just two things that I won’t ever let be questioned and that’s character and work ethic,” Leonard said. “Every day when I walk through the door, I’m going to be a great guy, a great teammate. It’s not fake. So I’m trying to make my impact now from the sideline.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard is a believer in analytics and he hopes to use data to help the team lessen its risk of injuries, according to Fred Katz of The Athletic. More teams are turning to load management to avoid overextending players during the regular season, and Sheppard thinks numbers can play a role in that. “Rather than have to react to an injury, you could see possibly something on the horizon and take that player out of harm’s way,” he said. “It doesn’t mean you shut him down, but maybe they play less in a game, or maybe they don’t play at all, or maybe they have active recovery days.”
  • In a separate story, Katz teams with David Aldridge of The Athletic to assess the Wizards‘ current situation and find a way to rebuild the franchise. Aldridge notes that Washington used its $9.2MM mid-level exception to sign four players last summer and suggests that the entire amount should be targeted to one player this year, possibly Derrick Jones Jr., Rondae Hollis-Jefferson or Maurice Harkless.
  • With the third overall pick and two selections in the second round, the Hornets might benefit more than most teams from the decision to delay the draft until November, writes Danny Thompson of Sports Illustrated.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Playoff Edition

Throughout the season, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this off-season. With the playoffs ongoing at the Orlando campus, it’s time to examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors.

Daniel Theis, Celtics, 28, C (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $10MM deal in 2019

Heading into the playoffs, no one quite knew what the Celtics’ big man rotation would look like. There’s no doubt right now which center coach Brad Stevens trusts the most. Theis has played heavy minutes when he’s been able to stay out of foul trouble. He averaged 30.1 MPG in the seven-game series against the Raptors and was productive (10.1 PPG, 8.3 RPG) while keeping turnovers to a minimum (1.0). He’s averaged 33.5 MPG thus far against the Heat. Moreover, the Celtics’ staff trusts that Theis can switch onto a variety of players defensively. His $5MM salary for next season isn’t guaranteed but it’s hard to imagine Boston would let him go.

Marcus Morris, Clippers, 31, PF (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $15MM deal in 2019

Morris had an interesting and controversial journey through free agency last summer. He reneged a two-year agreement with San Antonio and signed a one-year, $15MM pact with the Knicks. When the Clippers acquired Morris at the trade deadline, he was viewed as potentially the final piece to a championship puzzle. The Clippers crashed and burned in part because Morris was a non-factor as the series against the Nuggets wore on. In the last two games, Morris averaged 6.0 PPG and shot 3-for-14 from the field. He was better at being an irritant than a difference-maker. It will be interesting to see if his price tag drops this offseason.

Serge Ibaka, Raptors, 31, PF/C (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $65MM deal in 2017

Ibaka had a strong postseason run while coming off the bench. He averaged 14.8 PPG, 7.7 RPG and 1.3 BPG in 22.8 MPG while making 51.1% of his 3-point attempts. Ibaka turns 31 on Friday but he’ll receive his biggest birthday gift in the coming months when the Raptors or some other suitor hands him a lucrative deal. ESPN’s Bobby Marks believes he will get full $9.3MM mid-level exception offers from playoff teams without cap space but that Toronto may offer a one-year deal at $18MM to keep him and preserve cap space for next summer.

Monte Morris, Nuggets, 25, PG (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $4.66MM deal in 2018

When Malik Beasley was dealt to the Timberwolves in February, Morris became the clear-cut backup to Jamal Murray. He’s been a key piece off the bench during the Nuggets’ dream run to the Western Conference Finals. Morris averaged just 16.6 MPG against the Clippers but scored in double digits four times during the series. He’s also played smart and poised, making more steals (10) than turnovers (8) in 297 minutes during the first two playoff series. Morris has a $1.66MM non-guaranteed salary for next season. That seems like a very big bargain.

Meyers Leonard, Heat, 28, PF/C (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $41MM deal in 2016

The Heat have received significant contributions from a good chunk of their roster during their surprising carpet ride to the Eastern Conference Finals. Leonard hasn’t been among that group. Leonard, who made $11.3MM this season, was a starter until February when he suffered an ankle injury. He’s been relegated to cheerleading status during the restart, appearing in two seeding games and one postseason game. He was mainly a second-unit player in Portland before this season and he’ll have to compete for a rotation spot wherever he lands next season.

Heat Notes: Olynyk, Leonard, Butler, Haslem

As the Heat try to maximize cap room for next summer, they have a decision to make on their backup centers, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami HeraldKelly Olynyk has a $12.2MM player option for next season, while Meyers Leonard will be a free agent after making $11.3MM this year.

While it’s generally assumed Olynyk will opt in rather than test a market where few teams have cap space, Jackson suggests the big man could be tempted if his agent learns there are teams willing to offer a three-year contract starting at the mid-level exception of around $9MM. If Olynyk does opt in, Jackson expects the Heat to either keep him and let Leonard leave or try to trade Olynyk to a team with cap space and work out a cheaper deal with Leonard.

Leonard started Miami’s first 49 games, but lost his spot in the rotation after suffering an ankle injury in early February. He made his playoff debut Friday night, going scoreless in nine minutes.

“It was a great feeling to be back out there and I still have some time,” Leonard said. “I’m more than prepared.”

The Heat have $86MM committed to 10 players for 2020/21, Jackson notes, including $5.2MM to Ryan Anderson, who was waived under the stretch provision. Jackson assumes one-year deals in the neighborhood of $20MM for Dragic and $10MM for Crowder, bringing the total salary to $116MM, which is $16.6MM below this year’s luxury tax line. He notes that money could be used to re-sign Leonard and Derrick Jones Jr. or to pursue another free agent big man such as Enes Kanter, Paul Millsap, Tristan Thompson, Markieff Morris or Aron Baynes.

There’s more on the Heat:

  • Jimmy Butler‘s 30-point outburst in the Game 3 comeback solidified his reputation as a leader in big moments, Jackson notes in the same story. Butler joins Dwyane Wade as the only Miami players to score 25 points in the second half of multiple games in the same postseason. “He is the ultimate competitor,” Leonard said. “Everybody wondered, ‘Oh, well is he too competitive?’ He’s a winner. And he expects the same level of focus, effort, energy, mental focus, from his teammates. And you are seeing him not only do it himself, but he’s bringing the best out of others, as well.”
  • Bam Adebayo continue to gain notice from other players around the league, Jackson adds. Appearing on J.J. Redick‘s podcast, Timberwolves guard D’Angelo Russell said he would choose Adebayo if he were picking a team for the next 10 years.
  • Coach Erik Spoelstra said veteran forward Udonis Haslem was “controlling the huddles” Friday in an effort to inspire his teammates, writes Nick Friedell of ESPN. “Our culture is probably UD screaming at everybody in one of the timeouts,” Spoelstra said. “And us liking it.”

Heat Notes: Closers, Butler-Dragic, Benched Players, Injuries

The Heat have found playoff success thus far with a closing lineup comprising Goran Dragic, Tyler Herro, Jimmy Butler, Andre Iguodala and Bam Adebayo, per Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald. This closing lineup resolved the last 7:57 of the team’s Game 1 victory in Miami’s quarterfinals series against the Pacers (posting a +10 plus-minus), plus the final 7:45 of the Heat’s hard-fought Game 2 win (where the group finished with a +1).

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra praised the groups effectiveness on both sides of the ball. “Defensively, they’ve been good,” Spoelstra said. “Offensively, we’ve been able to keep it simple and get it to either Goran or Jimmy to make the plays and you trust that they’re going to get you something good, a clean look.”

There’s more from South Beach:

  • A key duo within the Heat’s closing lineup, guards Goran Dragic and Jimmy Butler, have benefited from their playing minutes together being expanded from 14 MPG to 22.5 MPG in the postseason, according to Manny Navarro of The Athletic. Butler and Dragic have become a very effective dynamic duo for Miami. “One of my all-time favorite teammates,” Butler said. “We just connect.”
  • Heat power forward Meyers Leonard and rookie point guard Kendrick Nunn both have yet to crack Miami’s postseason rotation, as Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel details. Nunn started for the Heat all season. Though frustrated about the benching, Leonard voiced optimism that both he and Nunn would see action soon. “[S]taying ready is important, so when I get my opportunity I’ll be prepared,” Leonard said. “There’s going to be a moment that we need Kendrick Nunn, make no mistake.”
  • Heat forwards Jae Crowder and Derrick Jones Jr. have both been listed as questionable to play in Game 3 of their series against the Pacers on Saturday due to ankle injuries, according to Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel (Twitter link).