Meyers Leonard Rumors

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Meyers Leonard
Meyers Leonard
Position: C
Born: 02/27/92
Height: 7-1 / 2.16
Weight:244 lbs. / 111.1 kg.
Salary: $3,075,879
The first thing I learned about Leonard came during his flight to Portland to be introduced as a draft pick in the summer of 2012. The Blazers bought their lottery pick a first-class ticket. Leonard bought his girlfriend a coach-class ticket, then traded seats with the woman seated beside her, sending a stranger to first class so he could sit with his girl. The 6-foot-11 Leonard, knees against the seat in front of him, is no dummy. “We’re getting married this summer,” he said.
The Portland Trail Blazers opened their season on Wednesday night with a 106-89 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, but reserve big man Meyers Leonard is still waiting to start his 2014-15 campaign. Leonard, who missed Wednesday night’s game with an upper respiratory illness, did not practice with the team on Thursday and will not travel with the Blazers for Friday’s game against the Sacramento Kings Portland head coach Terry Stotts said.
Leonard is part of a three-way October battle for a rotation spot in the frontcourt, so his play during the exhibition season — which starts tonight with a 6 p.m. matchup at the Utah Jazz — will be important. It’s far too early to tell how much — if at all — Leonard will play this season. It’s too early to say whether he’ll earn a rotation spot. But when he does see the floor, if he does carve out a role, it likely will be one you didn’t envision when he was drafted. “I feel like I’m more of a hybrid — I feel like I could grow into playing both (power forward and center),” Leonard said. “Right now, I feel more comfortable picking and popping and spacing the floor. And, certainly, I think that spacing the floor fits with the way the game is changing. That’s the direction the game is going and, at least on the offensive end, I feel like I’m kind of molding into what the game is changing into.”
Big man Meyers Leonard will sit out when the Blazers play Houston, the second consecutive game he will miss because of a strained left shoulder. “He’s not going to play tonight, but he’s fine, and he’ll be back before you know it,” said David Vanterpool, one of the summer league team co-head coaches who will run tonight’s game. Leonard injured the shoulder during a practice last week. He will test the shoulder in practice Monday before the team decides if he will play Tuesday in the Blazers’ 1 p.m. game against Atlanta.
Leonard takes a deep breath and continues. “I’ve always tried to find the best in people,” he says. “I was hated in high school because people were jealous. Fans from opposing colleges are going to try to get at you. There are always going to be people at my college who didn’t think I was good enough. Same thing now. “I don’t ever try to disrespect people, or say they don’t know what they’re talking about. But in some ways, they don’t. They’re not in my shoes.”
Leonard doesn’t want to sound as if he has a thin skin. He admits, though, that he resents some of the implications of his critics. “It’s only been two years (in the NBA),” he says. “I really only played one year of college. I played some as a rookie but very little this year. What do people really know about me? “It’s tough to really say what I want to say, because I still respect people’s opinion and what they have to say. But they don’t know me. They don’t where I come from. They don’t know what I’ve been through. They have no idea how hard this game is. I just want to remain confident, and in a good way, prove those people wrong.”
“I’ve shut down social media for a reason,” he says. Before he did that, “I heard it all (on Twitter). I’ve heard, ‘F you, I hope you tear your ACL.’ I’ve heard, ‘You’re a bust.’ That’s the reason I don’t look at that stuff anymore, and I probably won’t during a season. It’s just not worth it. I don’t ever listen to that stuff or buy into it, because mentally I have to stay locked in and confident in myself, or that will just kill me.” Leonard deleted the Twitter app on his phone and says he doesn’t get on his computer to see what’s out there. “I don’t read any more articles, either,” he says. “I don’t listen to talk radio. You should never get too high or too low. Social media and people talking about you will do it.”
Forty-five minutes later, as players from both teams begin to join him on the court for pre-game workouts, Leonard is finished. It’s a refrain played over and over throughout the course of a long NBA season. “There’s a misnomer going around that Meyers doesn’t work hard,” says Kim Hughes, the assistant coach who spends the most time with Leonard. “He puts in as much time as anybody.”
Even during a down year last season, Howard feasted against the Blazers, and Leonard made it clear that he feels the Rockets’ All-Star center has taken his game to another level. “You can tell he’s worked on his post game,” Leonard told Blazersedge. “He scored with both hands around the rim, sweep through to the basket. Grabbing offensive rebounds and dunking comes very easy to him. His presence in the paint, to be able to rebound and block shots, is pretty significant.”
Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts discussed his decision to go with second-year big man Joel Freeland over fellow second-year center Meyers Leonard, the No. 11 pick in the 2012 NBA draft, as the backup to starter Robin Lopez after practice Friday. “Joel’s earned his minutes,” Stotts said of the 26-year-old British big man. “We need defense from that position. … Joel’s earned it. He’s had an impact on the game defensively and he’s had a really good summer.”
Another day brought another injury for the hard-luck Trail Blazers. Backup center Meyers Leonard suffered a strained right foot during the Blazers’ 104-98 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night and was forced to sit out Thursday’s practice. Leonard is expected to travel with the Blazers to Boise, where they will play the Utah Jazz Friday in an exhibition game, but he’s listed as questionable.