Meyers Leonard

Heat Notes: Bosh, Leonard, Front Office

Chris Bosh will not be inducted into Hall 0f Fame in 2020 but Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel believes Bosh will find himself elected in 2021. This year’s crop includes Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, and Tim Duncan, so it’s not as if there aren’t deserving candidates ahead of Bosh. Still, the former No. 4 overall pick, who won two titles with the Heat, has the resume to be a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer.

Here’s more from Miami:

  • In a separate piece, Winderman wonders if Heat Vice President of Basketball Operations Adam Simon will be a candidate for the opening to lead the front office in Chicago. Miami has given Simon promotions every time an opposing franchise attempted to pry him away from South Beach, so it’s unlikely that the organization won’t at least attempt to keep the executive in town.
  • Heat big man Meyers Leonard, who was nursing a severe ankle sprain heading into the NBA’s hiatus, said he would have  likely been ready to return by the postseason, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald relays. Leonard is rehabbing in his home with the assistance of the Heat’s medical team.
  • Erik Spoelstra can’t envision himself coaching anywhere but with the Heat, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald relays. “Micky and Pat created this culture,” Spoelstra said of owner Micky Arison and president Pat Riley. “Some people might think they need to venture out on their own to create their own image. I do not have any of those kind of feelings. I feel a sense of purpose by carrying this culture on and this legacy to future teams. It’s what I enjoy. It’s what fills my cup up. I want to keep this going as long as I can. It doesn’t feel like a job.”

Injury Updates: Lillard, Powell, Holmes, Herro, More

Having already missed the three games since the All-Star break, Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard is expected to be sidelined for “a couple more,” a source tells Jason Quick of The Athletic (Twitter link). However, Lillard will make the three-game road trip to Indiana, Atlanta, and Orlando, Quick notes. Although we haven’t heard an official update from the Blazers, it sounds like there’s a chance Lillard could be back in the lineup by Monday when Portland faces the Magic.

Here are several more injury-related updates from around the NBA:

  • Raptors swingman Norman Powell, sidelined for nearly a month with a broken finger, is scheduled for a check-up in about a week, head coach Nick Nurse said on Tuesday evening (Twitter link via Blake Murphy of The Athletic).
  • Kings center Richaun Holmes (shoulder) has yet to practice and there’s still no timetable for his return, per head coach Luke Walton (Twitter link via James Ham of NBC Sports California).
  • There’s still no set return timetable for injured Heat players Tyler Herro (foot) or Meyers Leonard (ankle), writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Miami has been without both players for the last eight games, going 2-6 during that stretch.
  • Pelicans forward Kenrich Williams recently received an injection to treat pain and inflammation in his back, according to the team. Williams, who hasn’t played since January 6, is making “good progress” and is expected to be re-evaluated before the end of the week.

Heat Notes: Hill, Injuries, Iguodala, Jones, Adebayo

When the Heat made their seven-player deadline trade with Memphis and Minnesota last week, it was clear the team acquired Andre Iguodala and Jae Crowder with an eye toward working them into the rotation. However, Solomon Hill‘s outlook was murkier. The veteran forward, who is in the final season of a four-year contract, looked like a potential buyout candidate, but he says he hasn’t approached the club about that possibility and doesn’t intend to, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

“That hasn’t come across in discussions; I definitely want to be here,” Hill said. “This is an amazing place and winning culture. When you talk about winning, this is the definition of winning. To be in an organization like this and guys like this, this is a chance not only to try to force my way into some minutes but learn as much as I can.”

Hill has been active for the Heat’s last three games but hasn’t yet played a single minute for the team. Still, that doesn’t mean he’s not in head coach Erik Spoelstra‘s plans going forward, as Jackson relays.

“We really like him,” Spoelstra said. “I don’t want these last (three) games to be an indication of what his role will be. I’m not going to figure out that role for the foreseeable future. That’s not fair right now for the team. He’s a detailed defender, has size and quickness to guard multiple positions. He really has improved his shooting. Someone who fits with our style of play. He’s on my mind. He’s the next guy in line. He needs to stay ready.”

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • Within that same Herald article, Jackson suggested that Tyler Herro (ankle) seems closer to a return than Meyers Leonard (ankle), and noted that Andre Iguodala agreed to his new contract extension without even talking to Spoelstra or Heat president Pat Riley. “I pretty much knew, had a good feel for the team,” Iguodala said. “Playing against them in the playoffs, playing against them in the Eastern Conference and kind of seeing the scope of their organization, you pretty much know what it is.”
  • Besides opening up cap room for the coming summer and improving their 2021 flexibility, the Heat’s trade last week also created a clearer path to locking up Derrick Jones Jr. beyond this season, as Jackson explains in a separate Miami Herald story.
  • ESPN’s Zach Lowe takes a fascinating, in-depth look at Bam Adebayo‘s road to the NBA and to his first All-Star nod. Lowe shares some entertaining stories about Adebayo’s first workouts for NBA teams, the impression he made on Miami leading up to the 2017 draft, and how his hunch that he’d be selected by the Hornets fell by the wayside when Charlotte traded for Dwight Howard two days before the draft.

Heat’s Leonard, Winslow Out Through All-Star Break

The Heat announced today that Meyers Leonard (sprained left ankle) and Justise Winslow (lower back bone bruise) will be sidelined for the team’s full five-game road trip leading up to the All-Star Game, according to Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Leonard and Winslow didn’t travel with the team on the road trip, which begins in Los Angeles against the Clippers tonight and runs through next Wednesday in Utah. The earliest either Leonard or Winslow could return would be on February 20 in Atlanta, and there’s no guarantee they’ll be ready to go at that point.

Tyler Herro is also dealing with a sore right ankle and was in a walking boot during Wednesday’s shootaround, says Winderman. Still, head coach Erik Spoelstra thinks the rookie could return to action during Miami’s five-game road trip.

“That’s the hope, but we’ll be smart about it,” Spoelstra said. “Right now, we’re just giving him rest and treatment, trying to protect him from himself. … He really wants to be out there and he was able to grind through it for the last 10 days. But we want to take care of this right now and make sure it doesn’t become anything more.”

Leonard had started every game for the Heat this season, while Herro has been one of the club’s most-used players off the bench, so the team will have to rely on its depth during the next few games. Kelly Olynyk and James Johnson are among the candidates to see more frontcourt minutes. On the wing, Derrick Jones figures to play an increased role and Dion Waiters could get another look.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Southeast Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Southeast Division:

Allen Crabbe, Hawks, 27, SG (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $74.8MM deal in 2016
Remember when the Nets thought so highly of Crabbe they signed him to a giant offer sheet? And the Trail Blazers valued him so much they matched the offer sheet? And then Brooklyn wanted him so badly it traded for Crabbe the following summer? It all seems so silly now. The Nets were willing to give up two future first-rounders to get rid of Crabbe. Now in the final year of that odious contract, he’s averaging 5.0 PPG and shooting 28.8% from 3-point range. Crabbe will probably be looking at veteran’s minimum offers next season as he attempts to reboot his career.

Bismack Biyombo, Hornets, 27, C (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $72MM deal in 2016
Like Crabbe, Biyombo got silly money in the summer of 2016 after a solid playoff performance with Toronto. Orlando quickly got a case of buyer’s remorse and he was eventually shipped to Charlotte in 2018. To his credit, Biyombo has worked his way into the rebuilding Hornets’ rotation. He’s posted double digits in points six times this month while averaging 8.0 RPG in 22.1 MPG. Traditional big men like Biyombo are being phased out of the league, so he won’t attract a lot of interest. But he’s shown he can be a rotation piece somewhere.

Meyers Leonard, Heat, 27, PF (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $41MM deal in 2016
Another player who cashed in during the summer of 2016, Leonard has never averaged more than 8.4 PPG or 5.1 RPG. Other than avid Heat fans, few people realize that Leonard has started 30 games for one of the Eastern Conference’s best teams. He doesn’t often finish games but he’s endeared himself enough to coach Erik Spoelstra to keep his spot in the lineup. Leonard doesn’t shoot a lot of threes but he makes them (48.3%). He’s also making an impact on the boards (23 in the last two games). As a stretch four alone, Leonard will draw interest as an unrestricted free agent.

D.J. Augustin, Magic, 32, PG (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $29MM deal in 2016
Markelle Fultz is playing regularly but Augustin is still receiving steady playing time from coach Steve Clifford. Augustin threw in a two-point clunker against Chicago on Monday but in his previous four games he averaged 18.5 PPG and 5.3 APG. While Augustin’s overall shooting numbers are down, he can still be a productive rotation player. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Orlando brought back Augustin in a reserve role. If not, he still has enough left in the tank to be someone’s backup floor leader.

Davis Bertans, Wizards, 27, SF (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $14.5MM deal in 2018
Bertans was enjoying a breakout season until he was sidelined recently by a quad injury. Bertans was averaging 15.4 PPG and 4.9 RPG in 30.0 MPG while mostly coming off the bench for Washington. The Wizards have been feeding Bertans to ball beyond the arc and he’s consistently delivered, averaging 43.4% from deep on a whopping 8.6 attempts per game. Bertans’ prolific long range shooting is bound to get the unrestricted free agent some lucrative offers in this summer’s weak free agent class.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Heat Notes: Winslow, DeRozan, Leonard

Justise Winslow made his return to the lineup on Wednesday, playing 34 minutes in his first game back from a concussion. After the game, coach Erik Spoelstra said that the plan moving forward is not to have the Duke product play that much.

“I had no intention of playing him that much. K-Nunn got hit in the chest. He couldn’t play. Duncan got five fouls. So thank goodness we had Justise for those minutes,” Spo said (via Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald.

The team was also without Jimmy Butler, who missed the contest because he was not feeling well. Butler is expected to be back in action on Friday, so that will also cut into Winslow’s playing time.

Here’s more from Miami.

Heat Notes: Waiters, Paul, Olynyk

Dion Waiters is in the midst of a 10-game suspension for the Heat and there have been conflicting reports on what the team wants to do with the shooting guard once he returns from his time away. Some writers have speculated that Waiters has played his last game with the club while Shams Charania indicated that the team is going to welcome him back.

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald hears that the door is open for a return, but it would take a lot for Waiters to earn the trust of the franchise again. Waiters would need to do “absolutely everything right” for Miami to consider playing him again, Jackson writes, adding the caveat that an injury in the team’s backcourt may make the club soften its stance.

The Heat have yet to come to a consensus within the organization on how they are going to operate when Waiters does return. A buyout is possible but unlikely; an outright release is even more unlikely given Miami’s hard cap issues; a trade may take some hard selling to another NBA club.

Waiters’ suspension will end after the team’s Nov. 29 game vs. the Warriors. Here’s more on the Heat:

  • Agent Rich Paul could be the X-factor in what happens with Waiters’ future. Paul represents the shooting guard, as Jackson adds in the same piece, and it’s possible that the agent will use his influence to challenge an unfavorable decision the Heat make.
  • Coach Erik Spoelstra is thrilled with the team’s big man rotation, particularly Kelly Olynyk and Meyers Leonard, which give the Heat two bigs who can stretch the floor.“You want to be able to exploit opponent defenses, and we have two seven-footers who can stretch the floor,” Spoelstra said (via Jackson in the same piece). “It opens up the floor to attackers and for the pick-and-roll game. They each have a different way of getting to their strengths. Meyers is such a great screener, gets guys open. KO has some playmaking ability as well that can put unique pressure on a defense.”
  • Kendrick Nunn has been getting feedback from Dwyane Wade on his game and the rookie is soaking up the information, as Jackson relays.“He told me he’s happy for me, to continue to develop and learn, be a sponge, just learn as much as I can,” Nunn said. “It was definitely meaningful coming from him, someone who has been in this organization and left their legacy here and created a culture, has been part of a culture and championship for years. It was definitely big coming from him. I’ve been watching him since I can remember. Years going back, he was one of my favorite players for sure.”

Eastern Notes: Leonard, Fultz, LaVine, Johnson

New Heat center Meyers Leonard is ready for the new opportunity that awaits him in Miami, writes Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel.

 “I know that I can impact the game every night… And I’m vastly improved compared to when I was younger and earlier in my career. The easiest way to put it is I feel really good about where I’m at. And I’m just excited for this new opportunity. The Heat saw something in me and I really appreciate it.”

Leonard, who becomes an intriguing stretch option in the frontcourt for head coach Erik Spoelstra, is confident in his ability to hit open threes and expand his game even further.

“I’m going to do what’s asked of me… If I’m open, I’m going to shoot it. That’s one thing I feel that, particularly last year, I started to do a better job of is take more contested shots…. I (also) feel that I’ve really expanded my game. I can get my shot off quicker. I feel good, even extended beyond the 3-point line. I really, really feel that I’ll be able to provide a very unique skill-set and the ability to roll all the way to the rim, to half roll and play-make or to pick and pop to three. So it’s something I’ve worked very, very hard on.”

 There’s more news from the Eastern Conference:
  • Magic guard and former No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz has joined Roc Nation Sports, the 21-year-old announced on his own Twitter account.
  • The best-case scenario for Bulls guard Zach LaVine? He’s got All-Star potential, and should be an All-Star this season, writes Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago. But, on the flip side, if he isn’t able to mesh better with Lauri Markkanen and improve on the defensive side of the ball, it may be another long season in Chicago.
  • Rod Beard of The Detroit News reports that Pistons guard Joe Johnson, who signed a partially guaranteed deal earlier this month, has impressed head coach Dwane Casey with his conditioning. “My main concern was Joe getting up and down and he showed that he can still run the floor and still be athletic,” Casey said. “He has it, even at (38).”

Heat Notes: Leonard, Butler, Rotation

The Heat have been quiet about their plans for Meyers Leonard, though Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel notes that if the big man remains on the roster through the start of the season, he’ll likely be the team’s backup center.

Miami acquired Leonard in a four-way trade over the summer that allowed the team to net Jimmy Butler as well. The Heat cannot aggregate Leonard’s salary in a trade until September 6 — two months after the acquisition date. It’s possible that the team hasn’t been vocal about Leonard’s role because they are planning to flip him. However, at this point, any Leonard trade talk is strictly speculation.

Here’s more from Miami:

  • Leonard has privately made it known that he would like to make it work with the Heat, Winderman relays in the same piece. The big man has come off the bench for nearly the entirety of his career, so backing up Bam Adebayo at the five shouldn’t be a major issue.
  • Don’t expect the Heat to take a load management approach with Butler, Winderman explains in a separate piece. That could change if Miami is able to clinch a playoff berth early. Yet, with the team making the postseason just once over the past three years, the club may not have the luxury of resting players this season.
  • Assuming the team doesn’t make any major moves, Winderman (same piece) anticipates coach Erik Spoelstra will stagger the minutes of Butler, Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters. Winderman expects the Heat to have at least two of the three on the court the majority of the time.

Heat Notes: Free Agency, Leonard, Okpala, Mooney

The Heat won’t be in the market for any of the remaining free agents unless they trade someone from their current roster, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. The hard cap that the team has been operating under since the Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade has put a severe limit on its flexibility. Miami is already uncomfortably close to its $138.9MM limit.

That means potential additions such as Jamal Crawford, J.R. Smith and Carmelo Anthony are off the table unless the Heat make another move to open space. They could release Kendrick Nunn, whose contract isn’t fully guaranteed, but Winderman considers that unlikely. If they decide to trade someone in exchange for a lesser salary, Winderman identifies Meyers Leonard, who will earn $11.3MM this season, as a possibility. He adds that they may try to move Goran Dragic by the deadline or save their next significant moves for next summer.

There’s more this morning from Miami:

  • Second-round pick KZ Okpala wouldn’t object to spending time in the G League if it’s necessary to get consistent playing time, relays Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Jackson notes that a similar path worked for Josh Richardson, who played four games for Sioux Falls as a second-round pick in 2015. “I trust the staff and whatever they say is best,” Okpala said. “I believe in that and will go into it with a good foot forward.”
  • Free agent guard Matt Mooney, who agreed to sign an Exhibit 10 deal with the Grizzlies last week, received the same offer from the Heat, Jackson notes in the same story. It’s a similar situation to Rayjon Tucker, who recently joined the Bucks, as both players worked out for Miami and were interested in two-way contracts. However, the Heat have decided to let players in training camp compete for two-way deals.
  • Jackson rates the Heat’s potential interest in six players recently identified by former Hawks GM Wes Wilcox as among the most likely to be traded: Chris Paul, Kevin Love, Bradley Beal, Andrew Wiggins, Andre Iguodala and Devin Booker. Miami’s interest in Beal is well known, and he would be at the top of the list if he becomes available. The Heat had discussions about Paul, but won’t make a deal unless they get their two first-round picks back from Oklahoma City. Jackson doesn’t believe Miami would want Love because of his age, contract and injury history, while Iguodala fits better on an immediate contender. However, Jackson sees Booker and Wiggins as possible targets in the future if the Heat can’t land another star in free agency.