Anthony Chiang: Meyers Leonard on his impending free ag…

Anthony Chiang: Meyers Leonard on his impending free agency: “If I had to take my pick, I do think it makes sense here in Miami.” Leonard discusses what he wants as a free agent, his time with the Heat and his Coors Light cross-country road trip…

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Meyers Leonard loaded up the RV Friday, wife Elle and Siberian husky Koko alongside, unsure of whether Miami was in his rearview mirror for a matter of weeks or as a permanent change of address. About to hit free agency, the 28-year-old center said he is unsure whether his Miami Heat career will be limited to 2019-20′s run to the NBA Finals or accommodations can be made for a return.
“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 during a promotional interview on behalf of Coors Brewing, which is sponsoring his cross-country trip in the company’s Coors Light Chillstream.
A return to the Heat not only could require a pay cut, but also acceptance of a one-year deal, with the Heat potentially seeking to maximize 2021 salary-cap space. “Now, it’s not even about the money or the one year for me,” the 7-foot 3-point shooter 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.”
Would Leonard, who is on a salary of $11.3 million this season, take a one-year deal to remain in Miami for another run with the core of this Heat roster? The Heat’s other impending veteran free agents such as Jae Crowder and Goran Dragic will likely be faced with similar decisions this offseason.
“This league admittedly can be a bit of a business sometimes and you see every side of it, whether it’s somebody getting traded or a coach getting fired, whatever it may be,” Leonard said to Jackson. “But loyalty here [in Miami] quickly has been obvious to me. I’ve loved it here. ... I can tell [coach Erik Spoelstra] Spo appreciates what I’m about. That means a lot to me because I’m about the team. It’s not about Meyers Leonard ever, period. I think he appreciates that about me.”
But Leonard, who is due $11.3 million this season, is entering the final year of his contract before becoming an unrestricted free agent next summer. “I have no experience when it comes to an expiring contract,” he said. “All I know is if I’m here, I’m ready to impact winning and it’s as simple as that. I’m going to bust my tail every day. I’m going to be a great teammate, a great person. I think you guys will get to know me pretty well, a fun-loving guy. And I’m just ready to rock and roll.”
Darren Wolfson: RFA Meyers Leonard is on the #Twolves radar, much like about 20 other forwards. Hard to see the Blazers not matching.
The Trail Blazers on Tuesday extended qualifying offers to Meyers Leonard, Maurice Harkless and Allen Crabbe, ensuring the three players will be restricted free agents beginning July 1. By extending the qualifying offers, the Blazers reserve the right to match any offer the players receive on the free agent market, which begins July 1. A qualifying offer is 125% of the players’ previous salary.
The benefit in restricted agency is that Portland controls the process up to a point. Building relationships with agents is one element of a general manager’s job that goes unnoticed by the public. The trust that GM Neil Olshey has built with restricted free agents Meyers Leonard, Allen Crabbe and Maurice Harkless, along with their agents, will be critical.
And as for the future, despite what may come this summer and potential offers that will come his way as a restricted free-agent, he’s stated his desire to stay with the Blazers. “I’ve been with Terry the entire time. Neil (Olshey)drafted me, being with our franchise player Damian,” Leonard said. “The future is bright here and I truly hope I will be a big part of it.”
It's unclear what the market will be for Leonard this summer, but his impending surgery surely doesn't help. When news of Leonard's season-ending injury broke Friday, more than one Blazers fans wondered if had played his last game in a Portland uniform. But Leonard dismissed that idea Saturday, saying he was confident he would remain with the organization that drafted and developed him. "The future is bright here," Leonard said. "And I truly hope that I can be a big part of it."
As he sat in the Minnesota locker room the night the deadline passed to sign an extension, Leonard confidently said turning down the multi-year offer from Portland wasn’t hard. “I’m betting on myself,’’ Leonard said, referring to his impending free agent status. Nearly five months later, after a season that hasn’t gone as he imagined, Leonard says he has no regrets about turning down the offer. “No. Not at all,’’ Leonard said. “Because I know personally -- and I think people who understand what I do and what I can continue to do – that the ability to give much more is still there.’’
Portland will have to upgrade its front-court, starting this summer, when Leonard hits restricted free agency. Portland got sticker shock at his asking price during extension talks last fall, sources say, and if they don't think he can defend well enough at either big man position, they may look for another stretch big; it's too early to earmark big minutes in that role for Vonleh. Serge Ibaka looms as interesting possibility in the summer of 2017, and Olshey surely has targets in mind for the interim. The Blazers are never going to get the tier-A free agency studs, but players and agents have noticed what has happened in Portland over the last two months. Lillard, Stotts, McCollum, and Olshey have put themselves in the derby for the next tier of guys. That counts as a massive success in year one of what looked like a marathon rebuild.
When he showed signs in last season’s playoffs of being able to handle his own defensively – at least in short stints -- against Memphis’ All-Star Marc Gasol, that began to change the focus a little bit. Instead of a special offensive threat who could spread the floor, Leonard was projecting images of being a complete player, a guy who could warrant 35 minutes a game. He was viewed so favorably by the Blazers brass that Leonard was offered what a source familiar with the negotiations called a “considerable” contract extension in November. Leonard turned down the offer, which if you want to believe what was reported as hearsay by an announcer on the New Orleans broadcast last week, was an offer of four years, $60 million. Leonard, at the time, said he turned down the offer, choosing to “bet on himself” in this summer’s free agent market.
Meyers Leonard and the Trail Blazers failed to reach an agreement on a conntract extension prior to Monday's deadline to extended players drafted in 2012. But the Blazers' big man is ready to move past the contract talk. "That it's over with I'm focused on the season, focused on doing whatever I can for the team," Leonard said following Blazers practice in Salt Lake City on Tuesday. "Whatever happens after the year happens after the year."
Meyers Leonard and the Trail Blazers were unable to come to terms on a contract extension before Monday’s deadline, as both sides agreed to revisit his future this summer when he becomes a restricted free agent. "I'm betting on myself,'' Leonard said after passing on the Blazers' offer.
Storyline: Meyers Leonard Free Agency
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November 27, 2020 | 6:18 am EST Update

Real Madrid's Gabriel Deck leaving for the NBA?

Real Madrid lost star guard Facu Campazzo to the NBA (the Denver Nuggets to be specific) and there is a reported possibility that this may also happen with another player of the team. According to Marca, Real Madrid forward Gabriel Deck will be using the exit clause on his contract with “Blancos” and sign with an NBA club even next week if his team doesn’t present him with an extension offer really soon. There are some NBA teams that have “shown an interest” for the Argentinian player and he’s ready to make the jump, unless something changes with his contract situation with Real.
This rumor is part of a storyline: 7 more rumors
One longtime league executive said the past week was the most hectic of his career. In addition to the draft and free agency crammed together in an abbreviated offseason, there are so many other less-publicized tasks that teams are trying to sort through, from COVID-19 protocols to fans possibly attending games to scheduling. It’s wild to think that regular-season games are scheduled to tip off in less than a month.
For example, every day at 5 a.m., inside room 950 in the Gran Destino (where all the top-seeded teams stayed), Masai Ujiri would wake up, read his book, hop on the Peloton, and work out before heading down for breakfast. He thought nothing of his daily ritual until one morning, several weeks into the bubble, when he got a text from another former player of his: “Morning boss, you good up there?” The text was from Kawhi Leonard—Finals MVP with the Raptors, now a star on the Clippers—who was staying in room 850, directly below his old boss. Ujiri had been waking Kawhi up with his noisy workouts for weeks, but Kawhi was reluctant to say anything.
Storyline: Orlando Bubble
Ujiri told Kawhi that he would stop for the time being and joked that he would continue again when the Raptors met the Clippers in the Finals, messing with Kawhi’s sleep. Kawhi responded with the kind of trash talk that’s best read aloud in Kawhi’s dry monotone: “Haha, you know the saying ‘Don’t poke the bear’? I’m gonna call the NBA on you…get you out the bubble.”
NBA star Markelle Fultz is taking Wakanda Forever literally … he just got a foot-long image of the Black Panther tattooed on his thigh — and it’s AMAZING!! TMZ Sports has learned back in the summer, Fultz hit up “Ink Master” star Roly T-Rex about getting some ink done. And, with Chadwick Boseman’s death and the Black Lives Matter movement at its peak … the two got to thinking a “Black Panther” piece would be perfect.
November 27, 2020 | 1:58 am EST Update
And as is usually the case when the Celtics don’t turn a highly publicized rumor into a reality, we’re getting a reason why that deal never went through. According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, the Celtics were never really that high on Turner. Boston apparently didn’t see him as a very big upgrade to their frontcourt, and was even exploring other deals to trade Turner had the deal with Indiana come to fruition. “Talking to people and reading the tea leaves as best I could, it really comes down to the Celtics didn’t want Myles Turner,” Lowe said on The Lowe Post Podcast. “I did hear from some teams around the league that the Celtics have done some preliminary research on what Myles Turner’s trade value would have been to them had they acquired him either in this deal or in a separate deal, and obviously didn’t like what they saw.”
Storyline: Myles Turner Trade?
For quite some time during his 2020 offseason, Marc Gasol was rumored to be considering a return to Europe and his native Spain by joining Barcelona. Now a player of the Los Angeles Lakers, Gasol shut down those rumors as pure speculation, saying that there wasn’t even a talk with Barcelona. “That was not accurate at all,” Gasol said when asked how close he was to going back to Spain during first official presser by the Los Angeles Lakers. “I think someone made that assumption just because I’m not very ‘out there’ and communicate on things. I think people just try to make that decision for me and thought that was a very good time to try it. I never stated that. I was never close to that. I never even spoke to Barcelona about it.” “That came as surprise to me but that’s the world we’re living now. You’re hearing something and everybody runs with it,” Gasol added.