Veteran big man Udonis Haslem, who has been with the Heat since 2003, has yet to make a decision on whether or not he’ll re-sign with the team and play a 20th NBA season, writes Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel.
“I don’t know,” Haslem said on Monday during an appearance at Nova Southeastern University. “We’re thinking about it. But either way, I’m always going to be a part of the Heat family. I ain’t going nowhere, whether I play or not. I’m always going to impact that organization.”
The Heat seemingly made their offseason moves with an eye toward saving a spot for Haslem on the 15-man roster. Currently, the team has 13 players on guaranteed contracts and would be able to sign a 14th (but not a 15th) to a minimum-salary contract without surpassing the luxury tax line. That spot will presumably be Haslem’s if he wants it.
Haslem, who turned 42 in June, has spoken in the past about wanting to make it to a 20th NBA season and indicated on Monday that the two-decade mark was something that he and his father used to talk about. Haslem’s father passed away nearly a year ago.
“I had a lot of things that I had to really, really think about,” Haslem said, per Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. “Twenty years was a conversation that I had with my father. But as he passed, we think about now and things change. He’s not here no more and goals change, my vision has changed a little bit. But it’s still something that I battled with because it’s something that we talked about and it’s something that we wanted to do in a specific way.”
As Winderman observes, Haslem made his decision to re-sign with the Heat for the 2021/22 season on August 15, exactly one year ago. Of course, free agency started in early August in 2021 due to the COVID-related changes to the NBA’s offseason calendar, so Haslem’s deliberations are taking a little longer this time around.
While coaching would seemingly be the next step for a veteran who has long served as a mentor to younger Heat players, Haslem hasn’t shown much interest in formally taking on that sort of role. Instead, he has repeatedly spoken about his desire to get involved in Heat ownership.
“Hopefully one day we talk about ownership and being in that situation where I continue to be somewhat of a leader, but more be a hybrid owner,” Haslem said on Monday, according to Chiang. “An owner that gets out there and does more than just sit on the sideline, cross his legs and watch. I want to work. I want to continue to push the culture and continue to impact the next generation of winning for the Miami Heat.”