Miami Heat team president Pat Riley is not making any guarantees when it comes to Meyers Leonard’s and Derrick Jones Jr.’s impending free agencies.
Both players are set to hit the open market this offseason, but the Heat may not have room to bring both or either of them back.
“I love both of those players,” Riley said. “Meyers, I have not probably been around a player like him that is sincere with his enthusiasm for the game and his teammates and life. Plus, he’s a helluva player.
“He makes threes, big body, sets the best picks in the league, started for us all year, and things changed in the bubble.”
Leonard started 49 games for Miami this past year, but he fell out of Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra’s rotation in the playoffs.
Jones appeared in 59 games for Miami, starting 16. However, like Leonard, he fell out of the rotation late in the season.
“I do believe what changed for Derrick was the addition of Andre [Iguodala] and Jae [Crowder] midseason, and now Spo had 11, 12 guys that could play,” Riley said. “And I feel bad for Derrick, I really do. And I feel bad for Meyers.”
The Heat will be hard-pressed to bring Leonard back with forward Kelly Olynyk likely to exercise his $13.6 million player option.
However, Riley is leaving the door open for both to return.
“But they know they’re in a good organization,” Riley said of potentially inducing Leonard and Jones to return. “They went to the Finals, and they got an opportunity.
“They are both free agents. We’re going to talk to them, obviously, like everybody else.”
The Heat will look to keep as much of last season’s core after advancing to the NBA Finals.
However, to keep some of that core, such as Crowder and Goran Dragic, there may be some casualties.
It remains to be seen if Leonard and Jones will fall in that latter category.