The Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat have agreed on a deal that would send Trevor Ariza to Miami for Meyers Leonard and a 2027 second-round pick, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Woj reported these details on Twitter earlier today.
ESPN Sources: Oklahoma City is finalizing a trade to send Trevor Ariza to the Miami Heat for Meyers Leonard and a 2027 second-round pick. Leonard must still waive his no-trade clause because of the one-year Bird restriction on his deal, which he’s expected to do for Miami.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 17, 2021
Talks of Ariza to Miami started gaining traction on Tuesday night when Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer reported that talks between the two teams were occurring.
Sources: The Heat and Thunder are discussing a trade that’d send Trevor Ariza to Miami. OKC is seeking a second round pick for Ariza from the numerous playoff teams with interest.— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) March 17, 2021
Leonard was ruled out for the remainder of the season on Feb. 2 when he underwent shoulder surgery.
Leonard has been away from the Heat since March 9 after the team suspended him while the NBA investigated his use of an antisemitic slur during a video game live stream on Twitch. The NBA would soon follow up by suspending Leonard for a week and fining him $50,000.
The chances of Leonard staying on the Thunder are essentially zero. According to Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman, the Thunder will keep him on the roster until the March 25 trade deadline to see if they can flip him in another potential deal.
On Meyers Leonard: The Thunder likely won't ever bring him to OKC, but it's expected he'll remain on the roster at least through the trade deadline in case he's involved in another deal.— Joe Mussatto (@joe_mussatto) March 17, 2021
Leonard was included in the deal to make money to work. Ariza is an expiring $12.8M deal, and Leonard has a $9.4M salary this season. Miami will lose the $4.7M Disabled Player Exception they gained when Leonard was ruled out for the season.
Leonard has a $10.2M team option for next season that the Thunder will decline via buying him out if he is not traded again before the deadline.
Another good surprise from this trade is that the Thunder gained a $3.4M trade exception. The Thunder will have a full calendar year to use this exception. OKC can take back $3.4M in salary without actually having to match salaries with traded players.
The Thunder will create a $3.4M trade exception as part of the deal.— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) March 17, 2021
The Heat are $5.4M below the luxury tax/$10.6M below the hard cap and have until Monday to use a $7.53M trade exception. https://t.co/2szMwesEJi
This now marks the second trade that the Thunder have made in the past week. The first transaction involved trading Hamidou Diallo to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Svi Mykhailiuk and a 2027 second-round pick.
The Heat are the fourth seed in the East with a 22-18 record. Another interesting wrinkle from this trade is that the Thunder owns the Heat’s 2021 first-round pick with no protections, which means OKC gets the rights to it regardless of where it lands.
Oklahoma City can choose the two best picks out of the Thunder/Heat/Rockets pick pool. By trading Ariza, the Thunder strengthens Miami’s roster and increases the chances that the pick gets lower.
I like this deal; the Thunder could get a distant second-round pick for a player that has not played at all this season. This is much better than the alternative of simply buying Ariza out and letting him walk for nothing.