Photo Credits: Abbie Parr/NBAE via Getty Images
The Thunder have made yet another splash in the soon approaching March 25 trade deadline. This time moving out a player who never settled in — Trevor Ariza.
ESPN NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news mid-day Wednesday that the Oklahoma City Thunder dealt Trevor Ariza to the Miami Heat for Meyers Leonard and their own second-round selection in 2027.
In regards to Trevor Ariza, the veteran small-forward never even stepped foot on team grounds for the entirety of the season, instead tending to family matters and playing pick-up ball in Miami. The 35-year-old brings additional leadership to a roster that wields former champions in Udonis Haslem, Andre Iguodala, and Avery Bradley.
Ariza’s 12.8M expiring contract also breathes new life into Miami’s roster, giving a lump sum of capital to tinker with in a well decorated free agency class.
For Meyers Leonard, the big man will miss the remainder of the regular season indefinitely coming off a shoulder injury in a February 2 meeting.
Leonard made headlines this month after using an anti-Semitic slur while live streaming Call of Duty on Twitch. The 29-year-old was placed away from the team , later receiving a $50,000 fine from the NBA. The big man has made contact with Jewish leaders in the Florida community since the incident.
Leonard waived his no-trade clause in order to be moved out of Miami, but there is not assurance the 7-footer will remain with Oklahoma City.
ESPN Writer Royce Young broke details surrounding the deal shortly after Wojnarowski, saying, “Meyers Leonard won’t be joining the Thunder. His contract was just the vehicle to making the deal work, and for OKC to extract a little value out of Ariza.”
Young also went on to report that this trade may not be set-and-stone just yet. As with Leonard’s $9.4M contract ($10.1M team option in 2021-22) Oklahoma City may be able to integrate the big man in a larger trade later on in the week.
If a future trade with Leonard does not substantiate by the deadline, Leonard will likely be waived under the “stretch provision” or be held on until the offseason, where he will almost assuredly be declined of his $10.1M team option.
The Thunder’s draw from this deal comes from the additional second-round pick headed their way. GM Sam Presti now has stockpiled 35 picks until 2027, and with Miami’s own 2027 second headed their way, Oklahoma City will have four second-round picks in the 2027 class alone (own, Houston, Indiana, Miami.)