Meyers Leonard had an important role for Miami in the regular season: Starting center, 20 minutes a night, spacing the floor, giving the Heat some points (6.1) and rebounds (5.1) but mostly some size and solid minutes at the five. But come the playoffs, Erik Spoelstra made the wise decision of giving the starting spot and a bigger role to Bam Adebayo, who helped fuel Miami’s run to the Finals. Leonard handled it like a professional and accepted a role as the biggest and best bench cheerleader in the bubble.
As a free agent, Leonard is looking for a role on the court again with a playoff team, he told Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel.
“Now, it’s not even about the money or the one year for me,” Leonard 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.”
Meyers Leonard has a role in the NBA — he’s a 7-footer who shot better than 41% from three for three straight seasons, plus is a rock-solid teammate — but likely for less than the four-year, $41 million contract Portland gave him last time around. Teams looking for a big who can space the floor in a limited role, possibly off the bench — such as Boston or Dallas — could have interest. A lot of other teams will as well. That may not pay as much as it used to in the NBA, but Leonard will have a spot.
And a return to Miami, just now in a backup role, is not out of the question at all.