MIAMI – Udonis Haslem is barely given the chance to play anymore, and the Miami Heat wanted him back anyway.
That’s how much they value his presence.
A person with knowledge of the negotiations said Haslem and the Heat have agreed on a one-year, $2.4 million contract that will keep him with his hometown team for a 16th season. The person spoke to The Associated Press Thursday on condition of anonymity because the contract has not been signed, though that last detail is now merely a formality.
“When players come in and we talk to them about what it means to be a Miami Heat player, we point them at Udonis Haslem,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said earlier this offseason.
Haslem is one of the team’s captains, and he and Dwyane Wade are the only two players to appear on all three of Miami’s NBA champion teams. Haslem becomes the 19th player under contract going into training camp, one shy of the preseason maximum – and the Heat are waiting to see if Wade will take that last available spot.
Haslem’s on-court role has been limited over the last three years. He appeared in only 14 games last season, all off the bench, and hasn’t gotten more than 20 minutes in any game since Jan. 1, 2017.
But his voice in the locker room is vital. The 38-year-old Miami native remains one of the team’s captains, and it’s not uncommon for him to mentor teammates on the bench during games or raise his voice at halftime – even before coaches enter the room – when things are not going to his liking.
“UD is always the guy who sets the standard for teammates,” Heat point guard Goran Dragic said.
Haslem has played with 126 different Heat teammates, not even counting those players who were signed for training camps and never actually appeared in a regular-season or playoff game. His return for a 16th year means that he’s now been with the franchise for more than half its history; the Heat had played 15 seasons before he signed with them in 2003.
For his career, Haslem has averaged 7.7 points and 6.8 rebounds. He was a starter on the Heat championship clubs in 2006, 2012 and 2013.