NBA grants Heat $4.7 million salary-cap exception for Meyers Leonard injury

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Ira Winderman, South Florida Sun Sentinel
·3 min read
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The Miami Heat have been granted a $4.7 million disabled-player exception by the NBA for the season-ending shoulder surgery for center Meyers Leonard.

The exception can be used to add a player whose contract expires at the end of this season, either in a trade or in free agency, such as on the buyout market.

The exception expires on April 19, coming after an independent physician confirmed that Leonard will be sidelined for the balance of the season.

The exception cannot be combined with any of the Heat’s other cap exceptions to sign a player exceeding the $4.7 million, which is half of Leonard’s 2020-21 salary.

The Heat would have to clear a roster spot to add such a player, already at the NBA maximum of 17 on their roster. Leonard continues to count toward that 17-player limit.

Quite the race

While the Heat returned to South Florida from their seven-game trip in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, they also stood two games out of the No. 4 seed.

All part of the twists and turns of a most unique season, coach Erik Spoelstra said.

“I mean, it doesn’t surprise me to this point,” Spoelstra said. “Maybe if you asked me what it’d looked like at the beginning of December, maybe I would have thought it looked different.

“But that’s irrelevant. This is where we are right now. I mentioned it the other day, I see a lot of inconsistent teams in the East and we’re one of them.”

The Heat open a four-game homestand Wednesday night against the Toronto Raptors with victories in seven of their last 10.

“Anybody that can find some consistency and reliability quicker can find some separation in the standings,” Spoelstra said. “But right now, there is not separation. So what I see is opportunity.”

At 14-17, the Heat would have to go 5-0 in their remaining schedule to go into the All-Star break with a winning record.

Settling in

The Heat’s lone trip before the NBA’s midseason break will be the March 4 road game against the New Orleans Pelicans. That means the opportunity to settle in at home for nine days after 13 on the road.

“It’s good to be home, sleep in your own bed, drink Big Face Coffee every morning,” forward Jimmy Butler said, getting in a pitch for his personal brew. “It’s always good. Get back to my tennis lessons. A lot of things I’ve been missing, obviously family, my people.

“But I really miss my tennis game. Can’t nobody can beat me in tennis, man. Don’t you all think you can.”

Center Bam Adebayo had his priorities upon arrival in Miami.

“I want to see my little dog,” he said. “I’m tired of using Uber Eats. It’s adding up. I’m ready to get a home-cooked meal and get in my bed.”