Meyers Leonard

Lakers Notes: Reaves, Russell, LeBron, Davis, M. Leonard

After scoring a career-high 35 points Sunday night, Austin Reaves was rewarded with a spot in the Lakers‘ starting lineup, writes Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times. With two days off between games, coach Darvin Ham and his staff had time to prepare Reaves for starting duties as he took the place of Malik Beasley. Woike notes that it’s Ham’s first change to the starting unit since the trade deadline that wasn’t forced by injuries.

Reaves delivered 25 points and a career-best 11 assists in his first start since January 4 as the Lakers topped the Suns to move into a tie for ninth in the Western Conference playoff race.

“It’s going to be hectic,” Reaves said of the competition for postseason spots. “But this is why you play the game. You want high-pressure moments and you really want to play under the lights.”

There’s more on the Lakers:

  • D’Angelo Russell says he’s “at peace” after returning to the Lakers in a trade last month, but he’ll also be able to adjust if his long-term future isn’t in L.A., according to Helene Elliott of The Los Angeles Times. Russell, who has provided a scoring spark, topped 25 points Wednesday for the fourth time in his 11 games with the team. He’s enjoying the chance to display how much he has grown as a player and a person since L.A. drafted him in 2015, but he also knows more change could be coming in a few months. “I’m a free agent this summer. I’ve been traded midseason, so to get comfortable somewhere it’s not easy for me,” he said. “So, until I am, I won’t be comfortable. I won’t feel like it’s home.”
  • LeBron James will have his right foot tendon injury reevaluated this week, but there’s still no set timetable for him to return, per Jovan Buha of The Athletic. Ham believes the team is benefiting by responding to challenges with James sidelined. “Bron, with him being out, it’s revealed that we have a lot of different weapons that are very capable players on both sides of the ball that can help us achieve the goal we’re trying to achieve,” he said. “And when he comes back, he’s just going to add to it.”
  • Buha notes that the medical staff still considers the right foot stress condition that caused Anthony Davis to miss 20 games earlier this season to be an “active injury,” and it hasn’t been decided whether he’ll play in both games of the team’s lone remaining back-to-back on April 4 and 5.
  • Sources tell Buha that the Lakers were interested in signing Meyers Leonard, who worked out with them in January, before he joined the Bucks. L.A. is opting to keep its open roster spot for now after workouts with Tristan Thompson and Tony Bradley earlier this week.

Contract Details: Dunn, Merrill, Leonard, Keels

The Jazz dipped into their mid-level exception in order to sign Kris Dunn to his new contract, Hoops Rumors has learned. If Dunn had signed for the veteran’s minimum, he would’ve made $356,646 for the rest of the season, but he instead received more than double that amount ($735,819) via Utah’s MLE.

Dunn’s two-year deal also includes a minimum salary ($2,586,665) for 2023/24, but that figure is entirely non-guaranteed. The veteran Jazz guard would get his full guarantee if he isn’t waived on or before October 23.

Here are more details on contracts recently signed around the NBA:

  • The Cavaliers‘ new contract agreement with Sam Merrill covers three seasons, Hoops Rumors has learned. Cleveland used a portion of its mid-level exception to give Merrill a third year and to pay him $850K for the rest of this season, well above the minimum. The Cavs will control Merrill at the veteran’s minimum rate in 2023/24 and ’24/25, with both of those years non-guaranteed.
  • As expected, Meyers Leonard‘s new deal with the Bucks is worth the veteran’s minimum and covers only the rest of this season, so he’ll return to unrestricted free agency again this summer. As we noted on Wednesday, Leonard’s rest-of-season contract will pay him $409,916, while the Bucks will take on a cap hit of $284,911 (though the actual cost of the signing will exceed $1MM due to tax penalties).
  • Trevor Keels‘ new two-way contract with the Knicks is just a rest-of-season deal, so he’ll be eligible for restricted free agency if he finishes the season with the club.

Meyers Leonard Signs Rest-Of-Season Deal With Bucks

MARCH 15: The Bucks have officially signed Leonard for the rest of the season, the team confirmed in a press release on Tuesday night.

It’s a minimum-salary deal, per Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Leonard will earn $409,916, while the Bucks will take on a cap hit of $284,911. However, the actual cost of the signing will exceed $1MM, according to Owczarski, due to the fact that team salary is well over the luxury tax line.

Leonard said on Tuesday that he’s “connected really well across the whole organization” since arriving in Milwaukee on his first 10-day deal and is grateful to the Bucks for bringing him aboard.

“I texted (general manager) Jon (Horst). I’m hoping to talk to (team governor) Marc (Lasry) at some point at length, or a little bit more intimately I guess, to say thank you,” Leonard said, per Owczarski. “They changed my life. They really did. This is going to be hard for me not to get emotional right now. It’s honestly hard to describe what this feeling feels like.”

MARCH 14: The Bucks are signing center Meyers Leonard for the remainder of the season, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.

Milwaukee had to make a decision whether to offer Leonard a standard contract or let him go, since his second 10-day contract has expired. In five appearances thus far, Leonard is averaging 2.8 points and 2.0 rebounds in 6.8 minutes per game.

Prior to joining the Bucks, Leonard hadn’t played since the 2020/21 season.

A combination of personal controversy and ankle and shoulder surgery recoveries kept him sidelined in the intervening seasons. Leonard was flipped from the Heat to the Thunder after using an antisemitic slur during a video game live stream. Oklahoma City subsequently released him.

The seven-foot Leonard, 31, provides big man depth for a club with Brook Lopez starting in the middle and Bobby Portis backing him up on most nights.

Meyers Leonard Signs Second 10-Day Deal With Bucks

MARCH 4: Leonard has officially signed a new 10-day deal with the Bucks, according to’s transaction log. It will run through March 13, making Leonard eligible for six more games.

MARCH 2: Veteran big man Meyers Leonard is signing a second consecutive 10-day contract with the Bucks, sources inform Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). The seven-foot center’s first 10-day deal will expire on Friday night.

Newly-anointed Eastern Conference coach of the month Mike Budenholzer had high praise for his new bench big, as Eric Nehm of The Athletic tweets.

“Just to bring his size and physicality, I think it’s an area that maybe the roster, is one of the things it doesn’t have and he fills that need and still has the ability to make threes and spread the court,” Budenholzer said, per Nehm. “He just has a lot of basketball characteristics that fit us. The human’s been great. He’s fit in quickly with the locker room.”

Leonard, a career 39.1% three-point shooter, signed his first 10-day deal with the Bucks late last month. Through four games, the 30-year-old is averaging 2.8 PPG and 2.0 RPG for Milwaukee. Those four contests represent the big man’s first NBA action since March 2021.

A combination of personal controversy and ankle and shoulder surgery recoveries have kept him sidelined in the intervening seasons. Leonard was flipped from the Heat to the Thunder after using an antisemitic slur during a video game live stream. Oklahoma City subsequently released him, and he had not been rostered since.

Bucks Notes: Antetokounmpo, Leonard, Mamukelashvili, Middleton

Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo feels that most players who reach the upper level of the NBA eventually get taken for granted, writes Nick Friedell of ESPN. The two-time MVP and perennial candidate for the award made the comments after a recent series of injuries, saying that even people close to him expect him to go out and produce every night because he’s always been so durable.

“I don’t think I’m the first, I don’t think I’m the last. I feel like people take for granted (Kevin Durant), people take for granted LeBron James, people take for granted (Stephen Curry),” Antetokounmpo said. “You see all this greatness every day and they take it for granted until they’re not there no more. And you’re like, ‘Oh, man. I miss those guys. I miss the show that they put on.'”

Antetokounmpo dealt with a wrist injury that limited him to a short appearance in the All-Star Game, then bumped knees with an opponent in his first game back and sat out Sunday with a quad injury. He was able play in both games of a back-to-back this week, logging 28 minutes on Tuesday and again on Wednesday as the Bucks ran their winning streak to 16 games.

There’s more from Milwaukee:

  • The team will have a decision to make on Meyers Leonard, whose 10-day contract is about to expire. Leonard has appeared in four games in his first NBA action in nearly two years and has made an impression on coach Mike Budenholzer, tweets Bucks beat reporter Gabe Stoltz. “Just to bring his size and physicality,” Budenholzer said. “I think it’s an area that maybe the roster doesn’t have and he fills that need and still has the ability to make threes and spread the court. He just has basketball characteristics that fit us. The human’s been great. He’s fit in quickly with the locker room. I’m very, very happy with his 10 days.” Milwaukee can sign Leonard to one more 10-day contract before determining whether to keep him for the rest of the season.
  • Even though the Bucks waived Sandro Mamukelashvili on Wednesday, Budenholzer believes the former second-round pick will have a future in the NBA, Stoltz adds (via Twitter).
  • Khris Middleton was briefly off the injury report for Wednesday’s game before being listed as out. Budenholzer explained that the original designation was a mistake and Middleton isn’t ready for back-to-back games yet, tweets Eric Nehm of The Athletic.

Central Notes: Crowder, Portis, Leonard, Hampton, Boylen

Jae Crowder and Bobby Portis have been through some memorable battles over the years, including the 2021 NBA Finals, but they’ve put any animosity behind them since becoming teammates, writes Lori Nickel of The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

After Crowder was traded to the Bucks, he called Portis to invite him to work out together during the All-Star break. They joined teammate Joe Ingles for several days of training in Miami.

“Good guy, great guy, got nothing bad to say about him,” Portis said when asked about Crowder. “Sometimes you don’t know with guys because you play against guys all the time – and me and Jae always been the type of guys that kind of got into it. We always kind of bumped heads, but we bumped heads in a good way. We’re kind of similar; we brought intensity to the game, bring a chip on our shoulders.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Meyers Leonard is grateful to be back in the NBA after an absence that lasted nearly two years, per Jim Owczarski of The Journal-Sentinel. After signing a 10-day contract with the Bucks this week, Leonard met with the media to talk about the lessons he learned after being suspended for making an antisemitic comment in 2021. “It’s a mixed bag of emotions, for sure,” he said. “It’s certainly the hardest two-year stretch I’ve ever had in my life, as an adult, as a man. The truth is – let’s just cut to it – I made a really big mistake, the biggest mistake of my life. And it was an extremely difficult time because, first of all, just let me say to anybody who’s listening, I’m incredibly sorry. It was an ignorant mistake.”
  • R.J. Hampton played nearly five minutes Saturday afternoon in his debut with the Pistons, even though he hasn’t practiced with the team yet. Hampton signed with Detroit on Thursday after clearing waivers following his buyout with Orlando. “He’s a good defender, but most of all his athleticism and his size at the two guard is something we want to look at,” coach Dwane Casey told Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press (Twitter link). 
  • Pacers coach Rick Carlisle talked to Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files about the contributions of Jim Boylen, who has been serving as a consultant with the team in addition to his coaching duties with USA Basketball.

Bucks Sign Meyers Leonard To 10-Day Deal

FEBRUARY 22: The Bucks have officially signed Leonard to a 10-day contract, the team announced today in a press release. The deal will run through March 3, covering Milwaukee’s next four games.

FEBRUARY 20: Veteran big man Meyers Leonard is signing a 10-day contract with the Bucks, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.

Leonard hasn’t played in the NBA since March 2021. The Bucks had two roster spots open and needed to fill at least one of them to abide by NBA rules.

Leonard said in a recent TV interview that he suffered nerve damage when he underwent ankle surgery in April 2021 and spent much of the last two seasons rehabbing shoulder and ankle injuries. He was also embroiled in controversy two years ago for uttering an antisemitic slur on a video game stream.

Milwaukee might get some use out of Leonard. Bobby Portis has been sidelined by a knee injury, though he’s expected to return soon. Giannis Antetokounmpo took himself out of the All-Star Game during the first minute due to a wrist injury and Jae Crowder has yet to make his team debut.

The Bucks have been monitoring Leonard’s progress for over a year, and conducted a workout with him last month, according to Wojnarowski. They were looking for a big with shooting ability and a playoff history, Woj adds.

Leonard worked out for the Lakers last month but wasn’t signed. His last stint in the league was with the Thunder, who waived him two seasons ago after they acquired him from the Heat.

He was the 11th pick of the 2012 draft by Portland. He played seven seasons with the Trail Blazers, then appeared in 51 regular season games for the Heat in 2019/20. He only saw action in three games in 2020/21.

And-Ones: 2023 Draft, M. Leonard, TV Rights, Elam Ending

The latest installment of Jonathan Givony’s 2023 NBA draft stock watch at ESPN (Insider link) highlights a series of Duke prospects, with big man Kyle Filipowski coming in at No. 14 on Givony’s big board, followed by center Dereck Lively II at No. 24 and swingman Dariq Whitehead at No. 26.

Whitehead’s stock has slipped since the start of the season, according to Givony, who notes that the freshman has struggled to be effective when healthy and ranks dead last among ESPN’s top 100 prospects in two-point field goal percentage (39.7%).

Jeremy Woo of also takes stock of where a few 2023 draft prospects stand, writing that UCF forward Taylor Hendricks is solidifying his place as a first-rounder and identifying Michigan guard Kobe Bufkin as a possible sleeper.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Free agent center Meyers Leonard spoke to Jeremy Schaap of ESPN’s Outside the Lines about his efforts to make it back to the NBA, discussing the work he has done to educate himself about antisemitism since uttering a slur on a video game stream nearly two years ago. Leonard also said that he suffered nerve damage when he underwent ankle surgery in April 2021 and spent much of the last two seasons rehabbing shoulder and ankle injuries.
  • Bill Shea of The Athletic explores how the collapse of the regional sports network model will affect the NBA as it negotiates its next media rights deal. It’s safe to assume the NBA’s next agreement will include a major streaming element, according to Shea, who observes that other leagues like the NFL, MLS, and MLB have established partnerships with companies like Amazon and Apple in recent years.
  • With the “Elam Ending” gaining some momentum in the G League, Jake Uitti of HoopsHype spoke to the creator, Nick Elam, about why he believes in the idea and what it was like to see the NBA adopt the concept for its All-Star Game, beginning in 2020.

Lakers Notes: Cousins, Leonard, Brown, Davis, Reaves, Walker

DeMarcus Cousins and Meyers Leonard were impressive during workouts with the Lakers, coach Darvin Ham told reporters, including Dave McMenamin of ESPN, after Saturday’s practice. Both free agent centers auditioned Friday for L.A., which is seeking frontcourt help with Anthony Davis sidelined by a foot injury.

“They both looked great,” Ham said. “Whether or not we’re able to do something with them is a different story. But we’re constantly trying to kick the tires on different scenarios.”

Cousins, a four-time All-Star, is hoping for another NBA opportunity at age 32 after playing for the Bucks and Nuggets last season. McMenamin notes that Cousins signed with the Lakers as a free agent in 2019, but an injury suffered during that summer prevented him from playing. Even though he was waived in February of that season, he remained close to the team and received a championship ring when L.A. won the title.

Leonard, 30, is hoping to revive his career after being out of the league since 2021 due to injuries and the fallout from an antisemitic slur. During that time, he has been rehabbing after shoulder and ankle surgeries, according to McMenamin, and working to repair his reputation.

There’s more on the Lakers:

  • Sterling Brown‘s 10-day contract will expire Sunday night, and Ham was noncommittal when asked if the team plans to keep him on the roster, McMenamin adds. Brown, who also played for Ham when he was an assistant coach with the Bucks, has gone scoreless in four games with L.A. while averaging 2.0 rebounds and 0.8 steals in 6.0 minutes per night. “It depends on our health status and what we feel comfortable doing and making as a next step,” Ham said. The Lakers currently have a full roster and would need to open up a spot before they could sign Cousins or Leonard.
  • Davis, who has been out of action since December 16, did some on-court work during today’s practice, tweets Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. Ham said Davis is “trending in the right direction.”
  • Austin Reaves, who’s dealing with a strained left hamstring, was able to do individual drills at practice today, tweets Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times. Ham said Lonnie Walker is making progress toward returning from left knee tendinitis. Both players are projected to have their conditions reevaluated sometime this week.

Lakers To Audition Meyers Leonard

The Lakers are set to work out free agent center Meyers Leonard on Friday, sources inform Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The seven-footer out of Illinois enjoyed a nine-year NBA career as a backup for the Trail Blazers and Heat, before injuries and controversy ended his run in 2021. While recovering from season-ending surgeries to his shoulder and ankle in 2021, Leonard used an antisemitic slur during a live stream of a video game on Twitch. He was quickly fined $50K and suspended by Miami, then was traded to the Thunder and cut before the end of the 2020/21 NBA season.

To his credit, Leonard completed training in a league-mandated cultural diversity program and has since apologized for his behavior. He has not been rostered, in the NBA or internationally, ever since. Charania adds (via Twitter) that Leonard has logged significant time in the intervening years with Jewish leaders and been involved with the Jewish community.

Still just 30, Leonard represents an athletic and intriguing option for Los Angeles. A career 39% three-point shooter on 1.9 attempts, he could help spread the floor for one of the league’s least efficient three-point shooting clubs.

The Lakers currently have every spot on their 15-man standard roster occupied, but swingman Sterling Brown is on a 10-day contract and has yet to score a basket across three games, so he may not be long for L.A.