Udonis Haslem

Heat Notes: Herro, Adebayo, Butler, Haslem

If the Heat can’t trade for Damian Lillard before the season begins, Tyler Herro may be the best option as the starting point guard, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. Herro has been a shooting guard throughout his career, but he could be the most effective choice to replace Gabe Vincent, who signed with the Lakers this summer.

Giving point guard duties to Herro would allow Miami to keep Kyle Lowry in a reserve role, where he thrived at the end of last season and in the playoffs. At age 37, Lowry may be best suited for limited minutes rather than being counted on to handle the starting job again.

Winderman points out that Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo can help facilitate the offense, so Herro wouldn’t need to become a traditional point guard. He adds that if the experiment doesn’t work, the Heat could look for another option during the season, such as free agent Goran Dragic.

There’s more from Miami:

  • Team USA could use another big man like Adebayo during the World Cup, but he’s probably better off with a summer of rest, Winderman states in another piece. Training camps will open three weeks after the end of the tournament, which is why a lot of veteran players decided not to participate. Winderman wonders whether Adebayo will be more eager to return to international competition in the 2024 Olympics.
  • Butler’s tendency to sit out regular season games may prevent him from being considered for postseason awards, Winderman adds. Players are now required to participate in at least 65 games to be eligible, and Butler hasn’t reached that number since the 2018/19 season.
  • Butler refused to answer a question about Team USA’s loss in the World Cup when approached by a journalist Sunday at the U.S. Open, according to a BasketNews story. Butler thought he was being asked for a photo when Sasa Ozmo of SportKlub Srbija introduced himself, and he quickly ended the conversation when he heard the question. “I don’t care about the World Cup,” Butler responded.
  • The Miami Marlins will honor longtime Heat forward Udonis Haslem at their September 7 game, the team announced on Twitter. Haslem will get a one-day contract with the MLB club, which will hold “UD Night” at the ballpark.

Udonis Haslem Officially Confirms Retirement

When Udonis Haslem re-signed with the Heat in 2022, he made it clear that the 2022/23 season would be his last, a stance that he didn’t waver from over the course of the year.

On Friday, he made it clear that he hasn’t reconsidered that decision, publishing an Instagram post in which he officially confirmed that he’s retiring as a player.

“I consider myself extremely blessed to say I can leave this game with no regrets,” Haslem wrote as part of a larger statement. “The championships, the accolades, the brotherhood, man it’s hard not to be at peace. Undrafted to a 3x Champion, All-Rookie 2nd Team, Teammate Of The Year, the oldest player to play in an NBA Finals game, Miami Heat’s all-time leading rebounder and longest-tenured player, the list goes on.

“… I will always be the #OG, but now it’s time for the family man and the businessman to get to work… #40, see you in the rafters soon. Until then, #OG out.”

Haslem, 43, joined the Heat as an undrafted free agent in 2003 and spent the next 20 years with the franchise, appearing in 879 regular season games and another 149 postseason contests. He won titles with the club in 2006, 2012, and 2013, averaging 7.5 points and 6.6 rebounds in 24.7 minutes per game over the course of his career.

Although he hasn’t played regular rotation minutes since the 2014/15 season, Haslem had remained a valued member of Miami’s roster since then, signing a series of one-year contracts to remain with the club.

Haslem has been the NBA’s oldest player since Vince Carter retired in 2020, and joins Carter as just one of 10 players in league history to play at least 20 seasons. Unlike most members of that group, Haslem spent all 20 of his seasons with a single team, becoming just the third player in NBA history to play for the same franchise for at least two decades — Dirk Nowitzki (Mavericks) and Kobe Bryant (Lakers) are the two others.

Even though Haslem has retired, he has still been around the team this summer, serving as a mentor to its younger players. However, during his final few years as a player, he repeatedly told reporters that he had no desire to become a coach and would prefer to explore the possibility of buying into the Heat as a minority owner.

“I look to take a path of ownership, but to be a working owner, not a guy who crosses his legs and sits on the sideline,” Haslem said in February. “I want to be a guy that connects the dots between the locker room and front office, connects the dots between the front office and the owners.”

Heat Notes: Jaquez, Haslem, Jovic, Lillard

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.”

There’s more from Miami:

  • 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.”

Heat Notes: Herro, Butler, Vincent, Strus, Yurtseven, Haslem

Heat guard Tyler Herro declined to speak to reporters after Monday’s loss, but his body language suggested that he was disappointed not to get into Game 5 after receiving medical clearance following a two-month recovery process for a broken hand, writes Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Head coach Erik Spoelstra explained after the loss that the physicality and intensity of the game made him hesitant to call on a player who hadn’t suited up since mid-April. However, he also didn’t sound certain that he made the right decision by not using one of Miami’s best scorers in a game in which the team finished with just 89 points.

“It’s just a really tough call and I’ll probably have to wrestle with that all summer,” Spoelstra said, adding that the intensity in the Finals was “totally different” from the first round of the playoffs, let alone the regular season. “… That’s the hardest-played, most physical competition you can have. And that would be a tough thing for a guy that’s been out for two months that hasn’t had any kind of ramp-up. But that won’t save me from thinking about that for the next few weeks.”

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • Jimmy Butler, who sprained his ankle earlier in the postseason, wasn’t willing to use that injury as an excuse after Monday’s loss, telling reporters that his ankle was “fine” and had “zero” to do with his 5-of-18 shooting night, per Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Butler also didn’t necessarily agree with the idea that the Heat need to make offseason moves to improve their offense. “No. We just missed shots,” he said. “That’s what this league is about. We make two, three more shots. … We did enough to win.”
  • In his preview of the Heat’s offseason, Bobby Marks of ESPN.com (Insider link) says that re-signing Gabe Vincent should be a top priority for the front office, which will have to decide whether bringing back Max Strus is a necessity or a luxury.
  • One under-the-radar decision the Heat will have to make before the end of June is whether or not to extend a $2.3MM qualifying offer to center Omer Yurtseven, Winderman writes for The Sun Sentinel. That QO would make Yurtseven a restricted free agent. He has shown some promise but was limited to just nine games this season due to ankle surgery, so it’s hardly a lock.
  • While winning a championship would’ve been a storybook ending for his 20-year NBA career, Udonis Haslem isn’t unhappy about how his final season ended, according to Winderman. “I tell the guys, I have no complaints, I have no regrets. I’m thankful,” Haslem said. “They gave me a final season that I will never, ever forget. That’s all I can ask for.”
  • Assistant general manager Adam Simon and the rest of the Heat’s draft staff had been trying to “stay out of the team’s way” while bringing in prospects to the Kaseya Center for workouts since last week, according to Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. With the Heat’s season now over, the draft preparation can take center stage — the club owns the No. 18 pick in next Thursday’s event.

Heat Notes: Robinson, Vincent, Strus, Love, Haslem

The Heat‘s unexpectedly deep playoff run has improved the league-wide perception of several of the team’s key contributors, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

According to a scout who spoke to Jackson, Duncan Robinson‘s contract – which has three years and $57MM left after this season – now looks more tradable as opposed to being a “complete albatross.” Meanwhile, players like Gabe Vincent and Max Strus, who are headed for unrestricted free agency, are poised to cash in nicely this summer.

“I’ve gone from thinking (Vincent) is a good $3MM backup to a $10MM, $11MM player; he’s worth that in today’s NBA,” the scout said. “The guy has produced when it counts, and that’s what teams are looking for. He has risen to the occasion. … He’s never afraid of the moment. You get high effort defensively. Decent play-maker, has toughness. To me, his value correlates a lot to his scoring, but he does do other things that teams value.”

Ira Winderman explores the same subject in a story for The Sun Sentinel, noting that ESPN’s Bobby Marks believes both Vincent and Strus could get starting salaries around the full mid-level exception ($12.2MM) when they hit the market in a few weeks.

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • Five undrafted Heat players – Vincent, Strus, Robinson, Caleb Martin, and Haywood Highsmith – played at least 20 minutes in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. While those players appreciated Erik Spoelstra‘s recent assertion that the fixation on their undrafted status is “disrespectful,” they also don’t want to dismiss the obstacles they had to overcome to become rotation players on a Finals team, per Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. “You want to be labeled as an NBA player, but you don’t forget the road you took to get here, you don’t forget where you started and where you came from,” Martin said. “That’s what makes it also very special. I think that’s why our connection is so great, because near half our team went through the same stuff. I think the fact that’s the case has also helped us get to this point. So just as much as it can get old, it’s also very special.”
  • Kevin Love‘s numbers since he joined the Heat have been modest and his minutes have fluctuated, but teammate Duncan Robinson believes the veteran forward has been a difference-maker off the court for the club. “I think he totally changed the whole dynamic of our locker room,” Robinson said of Love on The Old Man and the Three podcast (hat tip to Jackson at The Miami Herald). “Just his character, his levity, what he brought in terms of just connecting people, having a sense of humor. When you have a guy who’s played in four NBA Finals, won a championship, gets pulled from a rotation in the middle of a series and his immediate reaction is uplifting the guy that’s replacing him — that alone sets the tone down the line for everybody else.”
  • While Udonis Haslem admits it would be an “amazing” ending to his own career if the Heat win a championship this spring before he retires, he said this week that he wants a title more for his teammates than for himself. “I want it for the guys that haven’t won any,” Haslem said, according to Chiang. “I want it for Jimmy Butler. I want it for those guys more so than anything.”

Heat Notes: Herro, Butler, Haslem, Culture, Martin

Tyler Herro, who reportedly could be back as soon as Game 3 of the Finals after undergoing hand surgery last month, said he’ll do everything possible to get back in action, Barry Jackson and Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald report. The Heat guard suffered the injury during Game 1 of Miami’s first-round series against Milwaukee.

“I’m going to be working out every day, twice, two, three times a day from here until the day I hopefully come back,” he said. “So I’m always going to continue to work hard and see how my body responds day by day and try to come back as soon as possible.”

“There’s a little soreness in my hand still,” Herro added. “But it’s all just post-surgery scar tissue and stuff like that, that I’m trying to work through right now. I would love to come back for the Finals, but we’ll see how my hand feels.”

We have more from the Heat:

  • The way the team overcame Herro’s injury during the postseason is an example of its culture, according to Heat star Jimmy Butler (story via ESPN’s Nick Friedell). “When a guy goes down, the next guy could fill in that gap and do exactly what that guy that went down did — and do it at a high level,” he said. “Then be humble enough to know that when that guy comes back, you’ve got to take a step back and get back in your role. Nobody ever complains. They always do exactly what you ask of them to do, which is why you want to play with guys like that, which is why they are the reason we win so many games.”
  • Speaking of that culture, Udonis Haslem expounded on that subject in a feature from Marc J. Spears of Andscape’s. “I would like to say I am Heat culture. If you do it right, and you stay committed to the process, you don’t just speak it but it becomes a lifestyle,” he said. “And this is where you can end up. I have businesses around the city. I’ve played 20 years in the NBA. I put myself in the opportunity in a position where I can at least have the conversation about ownership. So, I think Heat culture applies in all walks of life.”
  • Caleb Martin came up one vote short of being named the Most Valuable Player of the conference finals. He’s come a long way from getting waived by the Hornets two years ago. That was the low point of his career, he told Spears. “That was worse than not getting drafted,” Martin said. “That was the first time where I felt that I wasn’t good enough. Being drafted or undrafted, there are only a certain amount of spots for [60] kids. But a team deciding to cut you because they feel like you can’t contribute to what they are trying to do, that hurt.”

Southeast Notes: Hornets, Wizards, Magic, Haslem

G League Ignite guard Scoot Henderson has long been considered the top prospect besides Victor Wembanyama in the 2023 draft class, but an inconsistent 2022/23 season and the emergence of Alabama wing Brandon Miller have loosened his hold on that No. 2 spot. The Hornets, who won the second overall pick in Tuesday’s lottery, already have a long-term cornerstone at point guard (LaMelo Ball), further complicating the team’s decision.

Although Hornets president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak didn’t mention either Henderson or Miller by name after the lottery, he strongly hinted that the team will consider both players. As Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer writes, Kupchak didn’t rule out the possibility of adding another ball-handling guard to the roster while also indicating that fit will be a consideration.

“We are getting a little bit more advanced in putting this team together. I think three years ago or even two, three years ago I would have said that without question that we are going to take the best available player, and that’s been our position the last three or four years when we are trying to accumulate talent,” Kupchak said. “And I don’t think we are where we need to be from a talent level, but we’ve got a lot more talent now than we did two or three years ago. So, I think we can be a little bit picky and take into consideration not only the overall talent, but the position.”

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • As Josh Robbins of The Athletic writes, head coach Wes Unseld Jr. admitted that it was a “disappointing” lottery night for the Wizards, who didn’t move down but had a great chance to land the No. 1 pick after the first three balls were drawn. Unseld remains confident that the team will be able to find a talented player at No. 8. “I can’t really talk in-depth about individuals, but I think there is some talent (in this draft),” Unseld said. “There’s some positional size. There’s some versatility, some wing depth. So, there certainly is going to be a good player there.”
  • Speaking after Tuesday’s lottery, Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman didn’t sound like someone who will be looking to trade one or both of the team’s lottery picks. Weltman, whose Magic control the No. 6 and No. 11 picks this June, said the team’s goal has long been to “build through the draft” and that he’s looking forward to meeting with several of this year’s top prospects (Twitter video link via Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel).
  • Heat big man Udonis Haslem, who will retire at season’s end, said this week that he would’ve found a way to be happy about how his career ended even if the team hadn’t made it this far in the playoffs, but he’s pleased to be going out on a positive note, according to Anthony Chiang and Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. “I just didn’t want to underachieve,” Haslem said. “It wasn’t really about how we go out. It’s really about underachieving and not reaching our maximum potential. That’s what I would hate to do any year is underachieve.”

Eastern Notes: Haliburton, Heat, Haslem, White, Champagnie

As good as Tyrese Haliburton was on the court for the Pacers this season, earning his first All-Star berth and averaging a double-double (20.7 PPG, 10.4 APG), president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard was just as impressed by the character the third-year guard showed off the court, writes Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star.

“I’ve never been around a more complete, empathetic, understanding-of-what-the-real-world is, loving, taking-care-of-the-small-people, truly-committed-to-community leader like him,” Pritchard said this week. “I’ve never seen it. I’ve never seen a connector like Tyrese ever. Like ever. He connects with our ball boys. He connects with the CEO of some company. He just has this ability to make people feel comfortable around him. When I talk to him, I learn from him. I really do.”

Already viewed as the cornerstone the Pacers will build around for years to come, Haliburton figures to have a say in personnel moves going forward, according to Dopirak, who notes that a player’s fit alongside the 23-year-old will be considered whenever the team weighs a roster addition.

“The direction that he’s headed, he becomes a partner in the franchise,” Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle said. “When you’re the face of the franchise, you’re a real partner in it. We need to do everything possible to put him in a position to be able to do his job at the highest possible levels and try to remove as much difficulty from his job as possible.”

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • What will the Heat have to do differently on Friday after losing Tuesday’s play-in game to Atlanta? Just about everything, according to star forward Jimmy Butler. “Come Friday, we’ve got to play, like, legit the exact opposite that we played tonight,” Butler told reporters after Tuesday’s contest, per Nick Friedell of ESPN.com. Butler singled out rebounding and second-chance points as areas Miami needs to clean up — the team was outrebounded 63-39 by Atlanta.
  • After Udonis Haslem scored 24 points in 25 minutes during the Heat‘s regular season finale on Sunday, head coach Erik Spoelstra spoke about how much he’ll miss having the big man on the sidelines and in the locker room, Friedell writes at ESPN.com. “I’m going to miss his spirit,” Spoelstra said of Haslem, who will retire at season’s end. “I’m going to miss his voice. I’m going to miss his intentions. He has incredible, pure, team intentions. Every single day. He doesn’t have a bad day. He may express himself with anger other times at his teammates or even with me, but his intentions are pure.”
  • Bulls guard Coby White started 54 games in 2020/21 but has otherwise served primarily as a reserve since entering the NBA in 2019. After coming off the bench in all but two of his 74 games in ’22/23, White says he still aspires to claim a full-time starting role, per Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. “You don’t come (into) the league thinking, ‘I’m cool coming off the bench,'” said White, who will be eligible for restricted free agency this offseason. “Yeah, I’ll play whatever role for whatever team I’m on, for sure. But my goal is to be a starter. That ain’t gonna change.”
  • Justin Champagnie‘s new deal with the Celtics is a two-year, minimum-salary contract that’s non-guaranteed for 2023/24, Hoops Rumors has learned. Champagnie will get a partial guarantee of $50K if he’s not waived by August 1. That partial guarantee would increase to $350K if he remains under contract through the start of the regular season.

Heat Notes: Strus, Zeller, Oladipo, Postseason, Haslem, More

Heat wing Max Strus has been reinserted into the starting lineup over the past three games as a small-ball power forward, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. The impending free agent admits it has been a challenging season.

It’s been tough,” Strus said of his ever-changing role. “I’ve learned a lot this year on and off the court. It’s been a hell of a year. But I think just being consistent with my mental, everything staying consistent with that has been a huge thing for me. I’ve really grown up and matured a lot throughout this whole season. I think that’s what I’m most proud of and what I’ve learned the most.”

As Chiang notes in another Miami Herald story, Miami’s rotation has been trimmed down to eight players: Gabe Vincent, Tyler Herro, Jimmy Butler, Strus and Bam Adebayo as the starting five, and Kyle Lowry, Caleb Martin and Kevin Love off the bench. Love had previously been the starting power forward, but now he’s the primary backup center, with Cody Zeller — the former backup center — being a DNP-CD the past couple games before Friday’s matchup with the Wizards.

However, head coach Erik Spoelstra says that eight-man group isn’t set in stone.

Right now I do like the fact that we have our depth and we have options, and we plan on utilizing any or all of them based on what we need for that night, that game,” Spoelstra said.

Here’s more on the Heat, who ruled out a handful of players tonight:

  • Victor Oladipo was noncommittal when asked whether being out of the rotation lately might make him decline his $9.5MM player option for 2023/24, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. However, a scout tells Jackson the 30-year-old would be a poor financial decision not to pick it up. “He would be crazy to opt out,” the scout said. “At best, maybe he would get half a mid-level (exception) on the open market.”
  • Thursday’s blowout victory over the Sixers guaranteed the Heat will at least be the No. 7 seed in the East (there’s still a slim chance they could get No. 6), which means they’ll be playing a home game in the postseason, per Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. If they remain at No. 7, the Heat would host the No. 8 seed in the play-in tournament. If the Heat lose that game, they would host the winner of the matchup between the ninth and tenth seeds.
  • The 2022/23 season is Udonis Haslem‘s 20th and final one with Miami. The longtime veteran and members of the organization recently reflected on his journey, writes Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press.
  • Jason Quick of The Athletic spoke to several former and current players, as well as former assistants, to get a better idea of Spoelstra’s coaching methods. Outsiders may no longer view the Heat as contenders amid an up-and-down season, but the veteran coach instills confidence in his team. “From the outside looking in, I’m sure it looks like we don’t have anything figured out,” Martin said, per Quick. “But we really, genuinely feel we can still do something great. Everybody says that, but we know, and we feel it. In our minds, we are still working toward a championship.”

And-Ones: Hard Cap, In-Season Tournament, J.R. Smith, Teammate Award

NBA owners originally sought a hard cap in negotiations with the union regarding the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, but the idea was taken off the table fairly early, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski says in his latest podcast (hat tip to Real GM). He notes that the proposal was intended to restrain the league’s top spenders, but many franchises in smaller markets were opposed to it as well.

“Even a lot of small market teams were worried about a hard cap in places, like let’s say Cleveland, where all of a sudden you’re good enough to win a championship,” Wojnarowski said. “You have a team and you’re willing to go into the tax to keep that team together. Then all of a sudden with a hard cap and guaranteed contracts, the Cavs, using them as an example, or Oklahoma City four or five years from now, the smaller market teams worried ‘This is going to work against us.'”

Wojnarowski explains that a pure hard cap would make it impossible for the Cavaliers to keep the four players they hope to build the franchise around. They would eventually have to make a choice between re-signing Darius Garland or Donovan Mitchell or between retaining Evan Mobley or Jarrett Allen.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Veteran NBA writer Marc Stein isn’t a fan of the in-season tournament that will begin in 2023/24 under the new CBA, writing in his latest piece for Substack (subscription required) that there’s nothing special about the competition until it reaches its Final Four. All the early rounds will be regular-season games played at NBA arenas, but the semifinals and finals will be held at a neutral site. Stein claims the league failed in its attempt to recreate the excitement of cup competitions in soccer.
  • J.R. Smith spoke about his current projects with Jenna Lemoncelli of The New York Post, but the 37-year-old guard notes that he hasn’t officially retired from the NBA. Smith, who last played for the Lakers during the bubble in Orlando, continues to work out so he’s ready in case another opportunity arises.
  • Last week the NBA announced the 12 finalists for the Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year award, per a league press release. The finalists are Brooklyn’s Mikal Bridges, Cleveland’s Darius Garland, Miami’s Udonis Haslem, Milwaukee’s Jrue Holiday, New York’s Derrick Rose, Boston’s Grant Williams, Sacramento’s Harrison Barnes, Golden State’s Stephen Curry, Denver’s Aaron Gordon, Memphis’ Jaren Jackson Jr., Phoenix’s Damion Lee and Portland’s Damian Lillard. According to the NBA, a panel of league executives selected the finalists, but current players will select the winner. Holiday won the award for the second time last season.

Rory Maher contributed to this post.