NBA Trade Rumors: Trevor Ariza Traded from Thunder to Heat for Meyers Leonard and Draft Pick. The Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat are nearing an agreement on a trade to send Trevor Ariza to Miami, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Meyers Leonard and a 2027 second-round pick would be going to Oklahoma City. Wojnarowski noted Leonard would need to waive his no-trade clause, “which he’s expected to do for Miami.“
Royce Young of ESPN reported the veteran center “won’t be joining the Thunder.“
Meyers Leonard won’t be joining the Thunder. His contract was just the vehicle to making the deal work, and for OKC to extract a little value out of Ariza. Also, OKC may be able use Leonard’s contract again in a future deal before the deadline.
— Royce Young (@royceyoung) March 17, 2021
NBA Trade: Leonard is out for the season after undergoing shoulder surgery in February.
The 29-year-old was banned from team activities for one week and fined $50,000 after using an anti-Semitic slur during a Call of Duty stream on March 8. While playing the game, he called another player an “f–king k–e b—h.“
Leonard apologized and said he was ignorant about the slur’s “history and how offensive it is to the Jewish community,” noting his ignorance was “absolutely not an excuse and I was just wrong.“
Miami Heat center Meyers Leonard releases statement apologizing for saying anti-Semitic slur on a livestream: pic.twitter.com/AOi7ZE6nCy
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 10, 2021
His use of the slur came amid a rise in anti-Semitism in the United States. The Anti-Defamation League reported acts of anti-Semitism began to increase in 2016 after dropping for almost 15 years.
NBA Trade: In 2019, the ADL recorded the highest number of acts of anti-Semitism across the U.S. since it began documenting incidents in 1979.
Leonard is due to earn $9.4 million this season and has a $10.2 million player option for 2021-22.
NBA Trade: The Thunder acquired the 35-year-old forward in November, and his eventual departure was almost immediately inevitable. Oklahoma City is slowly starting its rebuild, so an aging wing on an expiring contract had more value as a trade asset than as a regular member of the rotation.
The Memphis Grizzlies did the same thing with Andre Iguodala last year and coincidentally sent him to Miami as well.
NBA Trade: Ariza’s best days are clearly behind him, but he averaged eight points and 4.6 rebounds while shooting 37.2 percent from the three-point territory with the Sacramento Kings and Portland Trail Blazers in 2019-20. He also finished 22nd among small forwards in ESPN.com’s defensive real plus-minus (plus-0.71).
Ariza will provide nice depth off the bench for the Heat in the second half and postseason.