Heat Notes: Deng, Whiteside, Haslem

Veteran big man Udonis Haslem is averaging a career-low 7.6 minutes per contest this season and is viewed as more of a mentor than a part of the team’s regular rotation, a role he is trying to embrace, Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel relays. “I’ve had so many different roles in my career,” Haslem said. “I’ve been a starter. I’ve been a sixth man. And now my role is coming to the point of where I’m more of a mentor, I’m more of a leader off the floor. But it’s still a job. It’s still something that I have to do my best at. It’s still something that I’ve got to put effort into. It’s still something that I’ve got to master. It’s still something that challenges me every game.

I want to be out there in the fight,” Haslem continued. “But if I’m not in the fight, then I have to do the best job that I can on the outside looking in. So that means pointing out things that I see on the floor, keeping the guys encouraged, being an extension of the coaches to some extent. And just still making sure guys do things the way that we do things. It’s a constant battle with myself because I’m such a competitor. I want to be on the floor. And it’s not like I’m old and broke down. I can still play. But I understand that there has to be room for these new guys. They have to blossom and they have to flourish and the only they’re going to do that is to get out there and play and get the experience. So, for that to happen, somebody has to step to the side.”

Here’s more regarding the Heat:

  • Combo forward Luol Deng, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason, indicated that his priority when signing his next contract is to play for a winning organization and to not be a part of any rebuilding effort, as he told Sam Amick and Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today on their podcast (Audio link). Deng praised the Heat organization, referring to it as “first class,” and also lauded the team’s up-tempo offense, as the duo relayed. But despite Deng’s happiness with the team as well as his move to power forward, he told the USA Today writers that he fully intends to explore his options on the open market this summer. The 30-year-old has appeared in 61 games this season and is averaging 12.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 32.1 minutes per night. Deng is earning $10,151,612 in the final season of his contract.
  • The Heat owe much of their second-half success to the improved play of the team’s reserves, Ethan J. Skolnick of The Miami Herald notes. Since moving center Hassan Whiteside into a reserve role, Miami has improved its bench output from last in the league with an average of 25.5 points in 17.5 minutes per game to ninth with 37.1 points in 18.8 minutes of action per contest, the scribe relays.

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