The Miami Heat have acquired forward Trevor Ariza from the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Meyers Leonard and a 2027 second-round Draft selection, the teams announced.
Ariza, a 16-year NBA veteran, was originally acquired by the Thunder in November. He never suited up for Oklahoma City and last played on March 10, 2020 for the Portland Trail Blazers.
OFFICIAL: The Miami HEAT have acquired forward Trevor Ariza in exchange for Meyers Leonard and a 2027 second round draft selection. https://t.co/UrHONxbn58
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) March 17, 2021
The Thunder have no plans to keep Leonard, and may either trade him in the coming days or simply elect to not pick up his $10.2 million option for next season.
“Leonard will not be reporting to Oklahoma City and will not be an active member of the organization,” the team said in a statement.
Thunder Acquires 2027 Second-Round Draft Pick, Meyers Leonard and Generates Trade Exception
— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) March 17, 2021
Leonard needed to sign off on the trade because of his contract status and did so quickly, according to a person who was familiar with the negotiations leading up to the swap being finalized. He had been away from the Heat for more than a week after a video surfaced of him using the slur.
He apologized for the incident, which was roundly criticized by the Heat, Jewish groups, other athletes and celebrities. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver fined Leonard $50,000 and barred him from being around the Heat for one week. The team had previously said Leonard would be away from the team indefinitely.
Silver has said that he believes Leonard “is genuinely remorseful” for using the slur.
“Meyers Leonard’s comment was inexcusable and hurtful and such an offensive term has no place in the NBA or in our society,” Silver said last week.
Leonard’s mandate from the league to participate in a cultural diversity program will remain in place. He has already met with representatives from the Anti-Defamation League, a prominent Jewish organization that works to stop extremism and delivers anti-bias education.
The second-round pick the Thunder will get is to be conveyed in 2027, and gives Oklahoma City — which has collected more than 30 picks to use over the next seven years through various other trades — four second-rounders in that year’s draft alone.
Marc Stein of The New York Times reports that once Ariza makes his way to Miami, shedding Leonard’s salary will help Miami be a stronger contender in the market for San Antonio Spurs big man LaMarcus Aldridge. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich announced last week the team and Aldridge have mutually agreed to work on opportunities elsewhere.
The Heat will get to add wing depth for the second consecutive season through a trade for a player who had been sitting out for months. They did it last year as part of a trade with Memphis that brought Andre Iguodala to Miami, and now do it with Ariza — who was part of three trades in a six-day span this past November and ended up with Oklahoma City, though has never played for the Thunder.
The 35-year-old Ariza was born in Miami, has been working out in Miami of late and is about to make the Heat the 10th team that he has played for in 17 seasons — not even including Detroit and Oklahoma City, two of the teams that acquired him in those trades late last year. He most recently played for Portland, starting 21 games and averaging 11 points for the Trail Blazers last season.
For his career, during which he has now been traded 11 times, Ariza has averaged 10.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.5 steals. He has been going through coronavirus testing and may be able to play in the coming days.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.