Udonis Haslem saw his first playing time of the season Thursday night, and it was both eventful and short, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. The 40-year-old forward played less than three minutes, scoring four points and grabbing a rebound before getting two technicals and being ejected. He clashed with Sixers center Dwight Howard after what Haslem thought was excessive contact.
“It was fun,” Haslem said. “For me to just go out there and play the game of basketball, show that I can continue to play at a high level and help my team win, it was fun. It’s a great memory. And, if this is the last one, I finished it the only way Udonis Haslem could: with an ejection.”
Thursday’s appearance officially made Haslem an 18-year NBA player, and he set a record as the oldest player ever to get into a game for the Heat. He only played four games last season and 45 total over the past five years, but Miami keeps keep re-signing him to one-year deals because of his stature as a team leader. Haslem will turn 41 next month, and coach Erik Spoelstra hopes he returns next season.
“It’s not like I’ve been openly recruiting him,” Spoelstra said, “but I just continue to tell him, like, ‘We don’t have to make any kind of decision now. Let’s kick this down the road.’ Everybody knows in this building, but most importantly in that locker room, the level of impact that he has.”
There’s more from the Southeast Division:
- The Heat remain optimistic that Victor Oladipo will be able to play next season, a source tells Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (Twitter link). Oladipo had season-ending surgery on his right quadriceps tendon this week, and his timetable to return will depend on how much the tendon heals over the next three months. Oladipo will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
- Wizards owner Ted Leonsis sidestepped a question about coach Scott Brooks during a news conference this morning, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports. Leonsis chose to focus on the upcoming play-in tournament, rather than the status of Brooks, who is in the final season of a five-year contract.
- With seven key players between the ages of 20 and 23, player development will be crucial to the future of the Magic, notes Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Coach Steve Clifford said it’s important for young players to understand that playing time has to be earned. “I would say minutes earned (is the better path because) there is accountability.” Clifford explained. “When you play well, you get more. … I tell the guys all the time, ‘If you want to play more, if you want a bigger role, play better.’ It’s really as simple as that. It doesn’t mean numbers. Execute. Know what we’re doing (schematically). All of that comes into play.”