The Miami Heat have been able to bring back almost everyone of import from the previous season. Except for one guy. LeBron James. He preferred going back to where his career started, where he seems to feel he has unfinished business to take care of.
Udonis Haslem was another player who opted out of his deal just so the Heat can have more wiggle room to sign James-Bosh-Wade and improve in the meantime. LeBron James leaving reshuffled the card deck, but the Heat were able to keep both Bosh and Wade, bring back Mario Chalmers and Chris Andersen and also add players like Luol Deng, Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger.
Not exactly a championship team, but a lot better than some thought would happen the moment James announced he’s going somewhere else.
Haslem has been a Heat player since day 1 in the NBA. He played his college basketball in Florida. He grew up in Miami. For him, even if it’s for less money (two years, $5.5 million), there’s no other place to play in, which has been evident to see throughout his career, winning three NBA championships and the only player along with Dwyane Wade to still be on the Heat from the championship team of 2006.
Pat Riley expected Haslem to re-sign, even if took a bit longer than originally projected: Udonis Haslem has been a fixture in Miami over the last 11 years. He’s a team player, an encompassing all-purpose player that would play just about any position or role in order to win. It’s been such a privilege and honor to have him with the organization and I’m so happy that he decided to come back.
More and more, Haslem is encompassing the leader role for the team. He played a career low 14.2 minutes a night last season, averaging 3.8 points per game. He knows he’s out there for limited amounts of time, to bring some toughness, defense and rebounding, but no one is really counting on him to change the game. What he says in the locker room and on the bench might be more important than his actual on-court contributions.