Controversial Ex-Heat Starter Lands New NBA Deal After 2-Year Hiatus

Meyers Leonard Dwight Howard

Getty Meyers Leonard battled Dwight Howard during a 2020 NBA Finals bout between the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Lakers.

More than two years have passed since Meyers Leonard last suited up with the Miami Heat. In spite of the circumstances that led to his ousting from the club — and the NBA at large — though, the sharpshooting pivot is on the verge of making his return to the Association.

Per a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Monday, Leonard is expected to sign a 10-day contract with the Milwaukee Bucks.

The 31-year-old could add some much-needed depth in the pivot for the Bucks amid Bobby Portis being sidelined since January 23 due to a right knee sprain. Veteran big man Serge Ibaka was recently traded away, too, after having lost his spot in Mike Budenholzer’s rotation earlier this season.

Over parts of nine seasons in the league with the Heat and Portland Trail Blazers (2012-20), Leonard has averaged 5.6 points and 3.9 rebounds per game while sinking 39% of his three-point attempts. At this point, though, he’s perhaps best remembered for the misstep that undoubtedly played a part in the Heat parting ways with him.

Ex-Heat Center, Bucks Signee Meyers Leonard Used Anti-Semitic Slur on Twitch in 2021

The Meyers Leonard story | Outside The LinesThe Meyers Leonard story | Outside The Lines Jeremy Schaap interviews Meyers Leonard, who was suspended by the NBA after he used an antisemitic slur during a video game livestream in 2021. #ESPN #NBA ✔️Subscribe to ESPN+ ✔️ Get the ESPN App: ✔️Subscribe to ESPN on YouTube: ✔️ Subscribe to NBA on…2023-01-31T20:30:09Z

In addition to his exploits on the hardwood, Leonard is an avid gamer known for streaming on Twitch and investing in the esports powerhouse FaZe Clan. Alas, his side activity as a gaming content creator contributed to his pro hoops career being put on hold.

During a March 2021 Twitch stream, Leonard used an anti-Semitic slur while playing Call of Duty: Warzone. He later claimed that he hadn’t known what the word he used meant and apologized for his actions, but FaZe Clan opted to cut ties with him nonetheless. Meanwhile, he was fined and suspended by the NBA.

The Heat eventually traded Leonard — who had already been ruled out for the remainder of the 2020-21 season after undergoing shoulder surgery — to the Oklahoma City Thunder, who waived him almost immediately. Shortly thereafter, he had ankle surgery, a procedure that he says led to nerve damage in the lower half his right leg.

Having finally recovered from his physical setbacks, Leonard took his first steps toward an NBA return just last month by working out for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Leonard Says He’s Been in a ‘Bad Dream’ Since Streaming Incident

During an Outside the Lines interview with ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap in January, Leonard maintained an apologetic stance for what transpired during his infamous livestream.

“I feel like I’m living in a bad dream…” Leonard said of the incident and its aftermath. “There’s not a hateful cell in my body. And I know that I made a huge, huge mistake… There are absolutely no excuses for what happened that day. And ignorance, sadly, is a very real thing… I am not running from this, but I did not know that it happened.”

Leonard has met with members of the Jewish community publicly and privately on multiple occasions in recent years in an attempt to make amends. He addressed kids at a Boca Raton synagogue in 2021, as relayed by TMZ, and participated in a talk at the Illini Chabad last year, per WCIA.

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