MIAMI – Goran Dragic has repeatedly said that he wants to finish his career in Miami. Meyers Leonard ended last season wanting a second career with the Heat.
As such, their time as free agents did not last long.
Dragic and Leonard have decided to return with the reigning champions of the Eastern Conference.
Dragic’s contract is for two years, with a team option in the second year, sources confirmed to ESPN’s Bobby Marks. Leonard’s deal is also for two years and is worth nearly $ 20 million, agents Aaron Mintz and Dave Spahn told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The Heat still have flexibility with their mid-tier exception of $ 9.3 million and $ 3.6 million every two years after these transfers, according to Marks. They have 12 players under contract with a projection of $ 20 million under the tax.
“Happy to be back,” Dragic told the AP. “That was my plan, to go back, but in this crazy business you never know.”
The Heat won the East as the No. 5 seed last season, Jimmy Butler’s first in Miami and a season in which the team’s young core – All-Star Bam Adebayo, Duncan Robinson, Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn – flourished to the time. .
“He wanted nothing more than to go back to Miami. Literally nothing more,” Leonard told the AP. “I felt so blessed to feel at home right away and feel that way all year long. From top to bottom, Pat to Spo, Jimmy to Bam, Goran to UD and the rest of my teammates, something felt so good There’s just no other way to say it. ”
Dragic is entering his seventh season with the Heat and is coming off a year in which he averaged 16.2 points while playing off the bench in the regular season. He started again in the playoffs and broke his plantar fascia in Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers, an injury that affected Miami’s chances.
The Heat surprised Dragic with billboards in his native Slovenia in recent days, with slogans such as “Your second family is always with you.” That gesture, Dragic said, was deeply moving.
“I was in the car with my wife and her brother and they took me next to those billboards,” Dragic said. “I didn’t know. They didn’t tell me anything. They just said, ‘Look to the right.’ And when I saw myself, I saw what they said, it really touched my heart. This is my home. I want to stay here in Miami. I appreciate Pat Riley, Andy Elisburg, the entire organization and what they did for me. ”
Leonard averaged 6.1 points for the Heat last season, beginning for much of the regular season. He said last year he had no desire to try to add up to big numbers in a contract year, and decided to just focus on doing whatever it took for Miami to win games.
He hoped that was enough to make the Heat want him back. Was.
“It feels good to be loved, No. 1. But more to me, I’m incredibly grateful that the Heat appreciate Meyers Leonard as a total package,” said Leonard, who intends to fly from his offseason base in Los Angels to Miami shortly. “The human being, the teammate, the player. Everything matters to them, and that matters to me. It has comforted me to know exactly who I am as a person and as a player, and I have shown enough people exactly what that is.” . , and I’m not going to change for anyone. ”
Associated Press contributed to this report.