When Jaime Jaquez was drafted by the Heat last month, one of his first actions was to send a text message to Udonis Haslem, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Haslem has retired after 20 seasons in the NBA, but he still represents the epitome of Heat Culture and Jaquez thought it was important to show respect.
“I know he’s the OG of the Miami Heat,” Jaquez said. “I felt it was only right that I reach out to him first and just let him know that I’m excited to be here and ready to work.”
Haslem said during a recent radio interview that Jaquez is “definitely a culture guy,” and they continued to text each other throughout Summer League. Jaquez grew up in California as a Lakers fan, but he followed the Heat closely as well so he’s aware of Haslem’s importance to the franchise.
“I’m a basketball fan, I was a Heat fan,” Jaquez said. “I always loved the Lakers, but the Heat was always my No. 2 and I’ve just always known about him and his presence in the organization. Being a basketball fan, you know who he is.”
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- Even though Haslem is officially retired, he’s still serving as a mentor to many of the team’s young players, Chiang adds. “I continue to stay connected to Orlando (Robinson), who had an amazing Summer League,” Haslem said. “I continue to stay connected to (Jamal) Cain, who had a hell of a Summer League, Niko (Nikola Jovic), who played well in the beginning (of Summer League), all these guys. There’s a next generation and I just continue to build relationships and bank equity with those guys.”
- Jaquez made a positive impression on Heat officials during Summer League, even though he was held out after injuring his shoulder in the second game, Chiang states in a separate story. Miami was also encouraged by the play of Jovic, last year’s first-round pick, who appeared in four games before joining the Serbian national team. “There’s a lot to like about his development so far,” coach Erik Spoelstra said of Jovic. “… You see the rebounding, you see the off-ball awareness defensively, his ability to take a rebound off the glass and push it in transition. These are skills that are really tough to teach. He has great vision.”
- Former NBA star Gary Payton, who was in Miami on Sunday as a coach in the Big3 League, sees Damian Lillard as a perfect addition for the Heat, per Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. “Dame had to make the decision: Do I want to keep doing what I do, or do I want to try to win a championship? And that’s what he wants to do now,” said Payton, who followed a similar path before coming to Miami late in his career. “It is just time, time for him to make a move to where he wants to go.”