Miami acquires a savvy veteran for their playoff push for the second season in a row.
Both ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported on the proposed trade Wednesday afternoon, with the Heat confirming the trade about two hours before their game against the Memphis Grizzlies. Wojnarowski also reported that Leonard is waiving his no-trade clause, stemming from the one-year Bird restriction in his current contract, in order for the deal to go through. He is not expected to be a part of the Thunder team this season.
Once the trade is completed, there’s no expectation that Leonard would be a part of the Thunder moving forward. Deal is expected to be completed today. https://t.co/OXW3dyYiUZ
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 17, 2021
With Ariza the Heat check off a few boxes in terms of need with more size, defense and 3-point shooting. Much like Andre Iguodala did last season after being acquired before the trade deadline, Ariza is another savvy veteran who is capable of raising his game during the postseason.
Leonard was recently fined $50,000 by the NBA for uttering an anti-Semitic slur during a livestream gaming session and has not played since undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery in February.
“Meyers was a key part of our team that made a run to the NBA Finals and we will always be grateful for his contributions and leadership last season. His recent comments were very hurtful and disappointing, but, we are encouraged that he has spent this last week meeting with community leaders, Rabbis and Holocaust survivors to greater understand the impact of his words and we hope that his education will continue. We wish Meyers and Elle the best of luck in the future.” – Heat statement.
Ariza, 35, is on an expiring $12.8 million contract. He played in 53 games last season for the Sacramento Kings and the Portland Trail Blazers, averaging 8.0 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.7 assists. He has not played in a NBA game for a year after choosing to opt out of the bubble games last season in order to spend time with his son. In his last game on March 10, 2020, he scored 22 points on 5-8 shooting from deep, 7-12 overall, and pulled down six rebounds in 37 minutes of action.
The Heat’s press release has more on Ariza:
Ariza, a 16-year NBA veteran, has appeared in 1,064 career NBA games (731 starts) averaging 10.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.49 steals and 29.7 minutes while shooting 42.3 percent from the field. He split last season between Sacramento and Portland, appearing in 21 games (all starts) most recently with the Trail Blazers averaging 11.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.62 steals and 33.4 minutes while shooting 49.1 percent from the field, 40 percent from three-point range and 87.2 percent from the foul line, helping Portland to a postseason berth. He scored in double-figures 19 times last season, including four 20-point performances. He recorded 22 multi-steal games, including a season-high six against the Los Angeles Lakers on January 31. Ariza, who was born in Miami, has made nine postseason appearances where he helped the Lakers win the 2009 NBA Championship after appearing in 23 games (all starts) in their playoff run.