Meyers Leonard went from a starting center for most of the 2019-20 season to someone who only played when Kelly Olynyk or Bam Adebayo got hurt in the playoffs. And though he said “it makes sense here in Miami” in an interview with the Miami Herald, Leonard also said that he wants a “significant role” on the team he signs with for next season.
Meyers Leonard on his impending free agency: "If I had to take my pick, I do think it makes sense here in Miami." Leonard on what he wants as a free agent, his time with the Heat and his Coors Light cross-country road trip https://t.co/P7TXvh3ujA— Anthony Chiang (@Anthony_Chiang) October 30, 2020
Leonard said that he’d like to play 20 to 25 minutes per game. He added, “I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I would come back to Miami because I loved it so much that I’m willing to sit on the bench.”
These comments seem to lower the likelihood that Leonard will return with the Heat. Erik Spoelstra used Bam Adebayo at center with Jae Crowder as a small-ball four in the playoffs, and it worked. (Crowder will also be a free agent, and he has expressed a desire to stay.) While the Heat could use Leonard to spell Adebayo from playing center during the grind of the regular season, it is hard to envision a significant role for Leonard — especially during the playoffs.
Back in June, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reported that “there’s support on the Heat coaching staff” to re-sign Leonard. Miami very well may still want to re-sign Leonard, but without any assurances about his role. Aside from re-signing Crowder, the Heat may also look to sign Paul Millsap to a contract at the mid-level exception, which was about $9.3 million last season. That would even further relegate Leonard to the bench.