Heat deal Leonard to Thunder after anti-Semitic slur

In this file photo Meyers Leonard of the Miami Heat warms up before the game against the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena on January 9, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Scott Taetsch / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP)

Meyers Leonard, the Miami Heat big man fined and suspended by the NBA for uttering an anti-Semitic slur, was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday.

Miami, last season's NBA runner-up to the Los Angeles Lakers, sent Leonard and a 2027 second-round NBA Draft pick to the Thunder in exchange for Trevor Ariza.

But Oklahoma City will not use Leonard, taking a trade exception under salary cap rules now available to the team over the next year.

"Leonard will not be reporting to Oklahoma City and will not be an active member of the organization," the Thunder said in a statement.

Leonard had season-ending shoulder surgery last month and Ariza, a forward, hasn't played an NBA game in more than a year after opting out of last year's Covid-19 restart.

The move follows Leonard being fined $50,000 and suspended from all team activities for a week by the NBA last Thursday after saying the slur while playing a livestreamed video game.

Leonard apologized for his comment, saying he did not know what the word meant.

"Meyers was a key part of our team that made a run to the NBA Finals and we will always be grateful for his contributions and leadership last season," the Heat said in a statement.

"His recent comments were very hurtful and disappointing, but, we are encouraged that he has spent this last week meeting with community leaders, Rabbis and Holocaust survivors to greater understand the impact of his words and we hope that his education will continue."

Ditching Leonard's contract could help Miami financially in bidding to land San Antonio's LaMarcus Aldridge.