Meyers Leonard

Heat Notes: Adebayo, Nunn, Riley, Leonard, Future

The Heat held their first team practice since March 10 on Friday, though veteran guard Goran Dragic revealed in a conference call this week that two players were missing: Bam Adebayo and Kendrick Nunn, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.

Miami, as Jackson writes, currently has two unidentified players recovering from COVID-19. Head coach Erik Spoelstra declined to comment on how many players attended Friday’s practice, only adding that the team had a “full gym” for the session.

“Hopefully Bam can come and K-Nunn and we can be a whole team and make some damage,” Dragic said. “Some guys are not here. We are eager, expecting them to come, hopefully to be healthy and we can all start practicing together.”

Heat forward Derrick Jones Jr., who tested positive for coronavirus toward the end of June, has fully recovered and is with the team in Orlando, Jackson notes. Miami will look to build on its high-energy practice as it shifts its focus toward a July 22 scrimmage against Sacramento.

“We had a good workout, looked like a Miami Heat practice, had a bunch of extra energy to get out,” Spoelstra said. “Guys enjoyed being around each other. You could feel the genuine enthusiasm.”

There’s more out of Miami today:

  • Meyers Leonard appears to have fully recovered from an ankle injury sustained in early February, Jackson notes in the same story. Spoelstra mentioned that Leonard is a full go, is ready for contact, and is moving great. He’s averaged 6.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 20.1 minutes per game this year, shooting 43% from 3-point range.
  • Heat president Pat Riley and general manager Andy Elisburg will remain in south Florida during the NBA’s resumed season, according to Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel. Vice president of basketball operations Adam Simon traveled with the team to Disney, as league rules mandate that each team has at least one senior basketball executive on site.
  • Winderman examines in a separate story whether the team has enough assets to put together an attractive trade package instead of waiting for free agency in 2021. Miami has long been linked to stars such as Giannis Antetokounmpo and Victor Oladipo, both of whom are set to become free agents at the end of next season.

Heat Notes: Free Agent Targets, Butler, Olynyk, Restart

Though adding reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo to their exciting roster remains the top goal for the Heat in 2021 summer free agency, they have many other viable options if Antetokounmpo is unavailable or uninterested, according to The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson.

Even with the prospect of a slight decline in the 2021 NBA salary cap due to the coronavirus pandemic causing a league revenue loss, the Heat should still have the cap space to add a maximum-salary free agent next summer to go along their intriguing core of All-Stars Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, plus developing rookies Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Herro.

Pacers All-Star Victor Oladipo, who trains in South Florida during the offseason, would be a great fit on the wing along with Butler, Jackson notes. Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday, Celtics forward Gordon Hayward, and Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie number among Jackson’s other preferences for free agent additions to the Heat in 2021. Wizards guard Bradley Beal and Thunder guard Chris Paul may be available via trade.

There’s more news out of South Beach:

  • The Heat’s top free agent acquisition of 2019, All-NBA swing man Jimmy Butler, has returned to Miami this week in anticipation of a league restart as Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald reports.
  • With just eight non-playoff games left for the top 22 teams, the Heat have officially clinched a playoff berth, per Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel (Twitter link). This means that Heat big man Kelly Olynyk will earn a $400K playoff bonus written into his contract.
  • The Heat’s status for the season restart was explored in another piece from The Sun Sentinel’s Ira Winderman. Production of Heat game broadcasts will be handled away from the games to accommodate COVID-19 personnel restrictions. Center Meyers Leonard, who injured his ankle during the Heat’s last game to this point, on March 11, has recovered and will be ready once play resumes.

Southeast Notes: Leonard, Brown, Crowder, Hawks

Heat big man Meyers Leonard is set to reach unrestricted free agency at the end of the season, but the 28-year-old is comfortable with his current situation in Miami, he explained this week.

Leonard, who was acquired by the Heat in July of 2019, was set to make $11.2MM and has started in all 49 of his games with the team this season.

“I’m in a good place here in Miami,” Leonard said on a podcast with John Canzano of The Oregonian, as relayed by the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson. “I really feel as though I help Jimmy (Butler) and Bam (Adebayo) in a lot of ways. I space the floor, I give them opportunities to attack driving lanes and get out in transition. Again, I don’t mind taking the physical demand. I don’t mind boxing out every single time. If the ball comes to me, fine. If we get it, that’s great and that’s what I want.”

Leonard is among multiple Heat players set to reach free agency this summer, along with Goran Dragic, Jae Crowder, Derrick Jones Jr., Udonis Haslem and Solomon Hill. Kelly Olynyk holds a player option worth $13.2MM for the following season.

Leonard has fit in seamlessly with the Heat, spreading the floor alongside Adebayo while shouldering some of the workload on the glass. He’s averaging 6.1 points and 5.1 rebounds in 20.1 minutes per contest, shooting an impressive 43% from deep.

There’s more from the Southeast Division tonight:

Southeast Notes: Dragic, Leonard, Wizards, Hawks

After starting all but 15 of his previous 487 regular season games since 2012, Goran Dragic was caught off guard when Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra asked him last season about coming off the bench on a permanent basis in 2019/20, as Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun-Sentinel relays.

“As soon as I heard this, I was a little bit in shock, you know,” Dragic said during an Instagram Live appearance this week. “Shocked. Mad. It was full of emotions going through my head.”

Admitting the idea was “really hard to accept,” Dragic said that he eventually came to terms with it and tried to turn it into a positive, aiming to be one of the NBA’s very best sixth men. It has been an effective lineup change for the Heat, who had been having their best season since Dragic joined the club in 2015. The veteran point guard, meanwhile, was enjoying a nice bounce-back season, with 16.1 PPG and 5.1 APG in his reserve role.

“At the end of the day, I think that was a great change for me, for my career,” Dragic said, per Winderman. “And I’m really happy how I responded — to the players, to Coach Spo, to the trainers. They always stood next to me and helped me. The only thing I had to do was embrace that role and I did it.”

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • In his own Instagram Live appearance this week, Heat center Meyers Leonard spoke about getting comfortable in Miami after seven years in Portland, adding that he continues to rehab the ankle injury that had sidelined him before the NBA’s hiatus. “I’m feeling much, much better,” Leonard told Heat TV host Jason Jackson, according to Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. “Obviously, I had an injury there right before the season was suspended. And it was bad. I think most people were aware of that. But I’m always incredibly, incredibly focused and I take a very professional approach. So I guess if there’s a silver lining for Meyers Leonard, I’ve had more time to rehab and the rehab’s been very good.”
  • As the Wizards prepare for the draft and free agency, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington explores the team’s biggest needs, naming rim protection and perimeter defense as areas the team must improve. Hughes also suggests it could make sense to target a high-ceiling player in the draft, something GM Tommy Sheppard mentioned as a possibility earlier in April.
  • In a conversation with Chris Kirschner of The Athletic, former NBA executive Seth Partnow says that he’d be wary of offering a maximum-salary extension to John Collins this offseason if he were running the Hawks. Partnow would be comfortable with a deal in the four-year, $80MM range, which may not be enough to lock up Collins before he reaches restricted free agency in 2021.

Heat Notes: Bosh, Simon, Leonard, Front Office

Chris Bosh will not be inducted into the Basketball Hall 0f Fame in 2020, but Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel believes Bosh will be 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, had the résumé to be a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer.

Here’s more from Miami:

  • In a separate piece, Winderman wonders if any Heat executive besides VP of basketball operations Adam Simon will be coveted by Chicago as the Bulls make front office changes. As Winderman notes, 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 if it had proceeded as scheduled, 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.