10 players the Rockets could add with the mid-level exception

D.J. Augustin #14 of the Orlando Magic (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
D.J. Augustin #14 of the Orlando Magic (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /
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Houston Rockets
Meyers Leonard #0 of the Miami Heat (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

5. Meyers Leonard

After seven seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers, Meyers Leonard was traded to the Miami Heat, in a deal that sent Hassan Whiteside packing to the Blazers, while also sending Josh Richardson to the Philadelphia 76ers and Jimmy Butler to the Heat before the 2019-20 season. The move proved to be a beneficial one for Leonard, as he had been a reserve in Portland, and became a starter for the Heat.

Leonard had already proven to be one of the best 3-point shooting big men in the league, as he made 40 percent from deep in four of his seven seasons with the Blazers, and was coming off a 2018-19 season in which he made a staggering 45 percent from long-range. Leonard made 41.4 percent from deep during his lone season with the Heat, making him their second-best shooter in their starting lineup.

The seven-foot center performed even better during the postseason, as he made 50 percent from deep during the postseason in the bubble. Although Leonard provided a steady hand from deep with the Heat, he struggled to find minutes with the Eastern Conference champions, as he averaged just 20.3 minutes, which are more indicative of a reserve.

Leonard is an unrestricted free agent, and recently discussed his upcoming free agency, stating his desire for a larger role, in addition to his ability to land on a contender. With the Rockets in need of size, Leonard would figure to land a healthy dosage of minutes, and his ability to knock down the 3-point shot would also make for a welcome addition to the Houston Rockets’ roster.

Leonard’s size also presents a tremendous boost to a Rockets team in need of a big man. Leonard posted a true shooting percentage of 62.7 percent with the Heat, which is a regression from the last two seasons, in which he posted true shooting percentages of 67.6 percent during the 2017-18 season and 67.5 percent during the 2018-19 season.

The Houston Rockets figure to face stiff competition for Leonard’s services, if they do in fact have interest in the 28-year-old, as stretch fives are a hot commodity around the league, not to mention an extremely valuable skillset. But the Rockets could land Leonard on the mid-level exception, and especially if he’s willing to take less to join a contender.

Next: No. 4