Udonis Haslem

Eastern Notes: Vucevic, Haslem, Cavaliers, Barton, Bulls

Bulls star center Nikola Vucevic is “totally fine” with accepting a reduced offensive role — so long as the team continues to win, Sam Smith of NBA.com writes. Vucevic is averaging just 13.8 points per game on 14.1 shots attempted this season, down from 24.5 points on 20.6 shots with the Magic last year.

“Obviously, my role is a little different than what I had offensively last year when I came here than with Orlando,” Vucevic said as part of a larger quote. “There’s more talent and more guys who can score. So it’s a little different offensively for me.

“So I just try to do different things, passing, defensively rebounding; there are many ways you can impact the game, screening and doing other things that I can to help the team. When you have so much talent around you, you have to adjust, a little bit change your game and play a different way. And that’s what I’ve been trying to do.”

The Bulls have opened the season at 6-2, good for the third-best record in the East and fifth-best in the league. The franchise is motivated to return to the playoffs this season after missing the tournament four straight years.

Here are some other notes from the Eastern Conference:

  • Heat veteran Udonis Haslem envisions having an ownership stake in the franchise one day, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes. Haslem has won three championships with the team, playing 861 regular-season and 147 playoff games over the course of his 19-year career. “Even with so much going on in my life, this organization would be a top priority, a major priority for me,” Haslem said as part of a larger quote. “There’s no way I can be a part of this and not focus on moving the needle. I think everything that I’ve been about these last couple of years has been focused on moving the needle, has been from a position of ‘How can I impact winning without playing?’ Well, you see how I impact winning without being on the court.”
  • The Cavaliers are brimming with confidence to start the season, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com writes. The team is coming off a hard-fought victory against the Raptors, winning 102-101 on the road. “There’s something special brewing in that locker room,” said head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, who’s guided the team to a 6-4 record thus far. “Everybody wants to be a part of it.”
  • The Bulls promised to draft Nuggets guard Will Barton with the No. 29 pick in 2012, the veteran told Mike Singer of the Denver Post (podcast link). Chicago ultimately drafted Marquis Teague, while Barton was selected at No. 40 by Portland. “It created a monster,” Barton said.

Heat Notes: Morris, Garrett, Martin, Haslem

After being used mostly as a floor-spacing big man with the Lakers over the last couple seasons, Markieff Morris is happy he’s getting more opportunities to operate inside the three-point arc with the Heat this season, says Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald.

“I’m finally back to basically where I had success at in the league early in my career,” Morris said this week. “For me personally, the game has changed a lot from when I first came in to now. Over here, these guys are doing a great job of letting me just play my game, and they’re playing to my strengths.”

Morris, who said he played a bit of a “one-dimensional” role in Los Angeles, averaged 3.4 three-point attempts and 2.8 two-pointers per game last season. So far this season, he’s attempting 2.3 threes and 5.3 two-pointers per contest.

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • With G League training camps underway, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said the plan is for Marcus Garrett to spend plenty of time with the Sioux Falls Skyforce, Miami’s NBAGL affiliate, this season, according to Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. However, the team’s other two-way player, Caleb Martin, is less likely to be sent on assignments to Sioux Falls, since Spoelstra views him as a “plug-and-play guy” for the Heat.
  • Asked why he decided to re-sign with the Heat again this summer, Udonis Haslem told Tyler R. Tynes of GQ that he believes he can inspire young players fighting to earn their place in the NBA. “I coulda quit a long time ago. But there’s (always) been another guy that comes in that reminds me of me: that wants an opportunity, that needs an opportunity, that deserves an opportunity,” Haslem said. “Every year I can find another Udonis Haslem that walks in that locker room. And I’m re-inspired and re-energized. I still have game to give. I still have my passion. I see those guys walk in the locker room and I’m just reborn again. It goes to the Bam Adebayos and Tyler Johnsons and the habits we create in this organization.”
  • Within an extensive conversation with Tynes, Haslem discussed “Heat Culture,” the team’s Big Three era, and the evolution of his role in the locker room over the years. The veteran big man, who is in his 19th season, also suggested that he’d like to play one more season beyond 2021/22: “If I can get 20 years, it’ll be an amazing career for a kid that no one thought would play in the league. All my sacrifices, everything I’ve given, the only thing I’ve asked for is to try to get to 20. I wanna give that to myself, and I wanted to give it to my father (who recently passed away).”

Southeast Notes: Bamba, Anthony, Haslem, Love

The Magic are coming to something of a crossroads with Mohamed Bamba, writes Josh Robbins of The Athletic.

The former No. 6 overall pick has only started six games in three years, with five of them coming in the final 24 games of last season, after the Magic traded the team’s long-standing linchpin, Nikola Vucevic, to the Bulls. Of course, those starts only came when Wendell Carter Jr., who came back from Chicago in the deal, wasn’t playing.

With Bamba entering the final year of his rookie contract, Robbins talks to NBA scouts about the future for the big man.

Talent-wise, he has a ceiling that he could be really good if he’s locked-in,” one scout said. “He has a chance, but I don’t know if his motor will let him get there.”

In examining Bamba’s strengths, Robbins quotes the big man’s 91st-percentile for percentage of opposing teams’ shots blocked, as well as his burgeoning jumpshot, but scouts worry that his tools are far ahead of his defensive instincts and reactivity. One scout says that Orlando may ultimately be better served to let another team try to develop Bamba once his rookie deal expires. However, Robbins observes that a new coach and system could be huge for his development, and that the team still seems at least relatively committed to him.

We have more news from around the Southeast Division:

  • In a similar piece from earlier this month, Robbins talked to scouts about Cole Anthony, who, like Bamba, faces a similar uncertainty given the Magic‘s depth at the point guard spot. The scouts came away more impressed with Anthony’s ability to get into the paint and play with physicality than expected, especially on the offensive glass, but almost unanimously said his lack of vision as a playmaker and his limitations defensively will probably keep him from becoming a starting point guard for a good team.
  • Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun-Sentinel believes that it’s possible we see a mid-season send-off for lifelong Heat veteran Udonis Haslem, he writes in a recent mailbag. He also says Haslem may have been biding his time and waiting for the perfect moment to get his big farewell.
  • In a separate piece, Winderman calls Kevin Love‘s recently-reported disinterest in a buyout “pure posturing,” while saying the Heat would likely be interested, especially with a bit of a hole at the power forward position. However, he’s unsure if Miami currently holds the “contender” status in the eyes of players that could woo Love over a team like the Lakers or Warriors.

Southeast Notes: LiAngelo, Haslem, Cooper, Reddish

Multiple members of the Hornets organization have loved what they’ve seen out of guard LiAngelo Ball, a member Charlotte’s Summer League club who is hoping to earn a G League contract, reports Jordan Schultz of ESPN (Twitter link).

According to Schultz, Charlotte appreciates the work ethic of Ball, older brother to reigning Hornets Rookie of the Year LaMelo Ball. The 6’5″ LiAngelo, 22, is the middle brother in a family of basketball pros. His older brother, Lonzo Ball, just inked a lucrative four-year, $80MM deal with the Bulls this summer.

The Hornets are no doubt hoping that LiAngelo, the only member of the three Ball brothers to not be drafted, can prove to be a diamond in the rough. “Great kid,” Hornets assistant coach Jay Triano raved. “He was at the facility practicing every day for two months to play in the Summer League. Shows a ton of character. He can shoot it, great feel, knack for scoring.”

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • Now that the Heat have re-signed lifer Udonis Haslem to a veteran’s minimum deal for his 19th season in Miami, the rest of the club’s offseason signings can now be completed, writes Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Haslem is the 14th Miami player under a standard contract for the 2021/22 season, meaning the Heat will now be able to ink younger players to Exhibit 10 deals. Those players will compete for two-way deals and could end up playing for the Sioux Falls Skyforce, Miami’s G League affiliate.
  • Hawks rookie point guard Sharife Cooper sat down for an extensive conversation with Chris Kirschner of The Athletic about falling to the middle of the second round in the 2021 NBA draft and his fit on the team behind star point guard Trae Young. The Hawks drafted Cooper with the No. 48 pick out of Auburn. “It’s extremely motivating,” Cooper said of his slide in the draft. “We’ll see in a couple of years who can really play and who can’t play. That’s what I’ll say.” A high-level ball-handler, Cooper has already shown promise as a distributor and a speedy interior finisher at the next level while in Summer League, writes Kirschner. “I can pass,” Cooper said of his attributes as a player. “I can score. I feel like I’m a leader. I like talking on the floor. My biggest weakness — I definitely want to be more efficient. I definitely want to take care of the ball better.”
  • Hawks forward Cam Reddish, eligible for an extension to his rookie contract in 2022, has signed with Klutch Sports Group, per an announcement from the agency (Twitter link). Though Reddish only appeared in 26 games with Atlanta during the 2020/21 season due to an Achilles injury, he showed promise during his brief stint with the Hawks in the 2021 postseason, averaging 12.8 PPG on 52.8% shooting (64.3% on threes) in 23.0 minutes per contest.

Udonis Haslem Re-Signs With Heat

AUGUST 15: The Heat have officially re-signed Haslem, the team announced today (via Twitter).

AUGUST 11: Veteran big man Udonis Haslem will return for another season with the Heat, according to Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel, who says that an official announcement from the team is expected soon. It will be Haslem’s 19th season with the franchise.

A regular rotation player in Miami when the team won championships in 2006, 2012, and 2013, Haslem hasn’t appeared in more than 16 games or logged more than 130 minutes in a single season since 2015/16.

In 2020/21, he played just once, earning a cameo during the final week of the regular season. He memorably earned an ejection for a dust-up with Dwight Howard just three minutes after checking into the game.

Despite the fact that he no longer sees much action for the Heat, Haslem is a well-respected locker room presence who essentially has a standing invitation to continue signing minimum-salary contracts with the club until he decides to retire.

That day hasn’t arrived yet. The 41-year-old will spend at least one more season in the NBA and, as Winderman points out, will become the 21st player in NBA history to play in 19 seasons as long as he appears in at least one game for the Heat in 2021/22.

Once Haslem officially signs his deal, the Heat will have 14 players on guaranteed contracts. Miami could perhaps use another guard or wing, but a 15th man would put team salary over the tax line, so it’s unclear if the club intends to fill that spot, tweets Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

The Heat do have a pair of open two-way slots, which will likely be filled by undrafted free agents who impress the team in Summer League and training camp.

Southeast Notes: Yurtseven, Bouknight, Haslem, Magic

Heat center Omer Yurtseven has gone through his fair share of highs and lows during the team’s summer league in Las Vegas this month, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes.

Yurtseven, a promising 23-year-old from Turkey, recently signed a two-year contract with the Heat. Miami envisions him as part of its future, featuring him heavily throughout summer league to this point.

“I think it’s been a lot of learning, like watching the film and taking it all in,” Yurtseven said. “I’m still making those adjustments inside the game. All the coaches have been in my ear and also, OG, Udonis Haslem has been with us like for the last two, three games just giving advice.

“More reps and more reps, it’s just going to translate into the regular season.”

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • Hornets rookie James Bouknight was recently inspired by a surprise phone call from team owner Michael Jordan, Jonathan Alexander of the Charlotte Observer writes. The 20-year-old had a poor game on Monday, spoke to Jordan and bounced back for Thursday’s game against San Antonio. Bouknight finished with 23 points and eight assists against the Spurs.
  • In his latest “Ask Ira” mailbag for the Sun Sentinel, Ira Winderman explores whether Udonis Haslem could get more minutes with the Heat this season. The 41-year-old Haslem recently re-signed with Miami, committing to his 19th NBA season.
  • The Magic‘s less proven players are looking to make their marks in summer league, Josh Cohen of NBA.com writes. “I think it’s a great opportunity,” said coach Jamahl Mosley. “We talked about it coming into summer league. Talking about guys learning the habits, getting the fundamentals down. Try to see the things that we are putting in place and how do they respond to it. With Jalen [Suggs] being out, how do other guys get their opportunity to do things that we’ve asked them to do.”

Southeast Notes: Heat Rotation, Suggs, Todd, Garrett, Haslem

The Heat‘s rotation could look pretty thin this season, writes Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

After the main eight-man rotation of Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Kyle Lowry, Duncan Robinson, Tyler Herro, P.J. Tucker, Markieff Morris, and Dewayne Dedmon, there are a lot of question marks. Victor Oladipo is still recovering from his quad surgery, KZ Okpala has yet to prove himself as ready to play real minutes, and Udonis Haslem‘s status is up in the air.

The ability of at least one of Max Strus, Gabe Vincent, or Omer Yurtseven to break through will be crucial. Strus and Yurtseven have been two of the top performers in Summer League, and the Heat will be hoping their renowned player development program can turn them into immediate contributors.

We have more from around the Southeast Division:

  • Magic prize rookie Jalen Suggs will miss the remainder of Summer League with a sprained left thumb, according to a tweet from the team’s PR account. Suggs had an impressive Summer League, averaging 15.3 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 2.3 APG and 1.7 SPG while showcasing impressive scoring and defensive instincts. The move is a precautionary one, so it shouldn’t impact his status for training camp next month.
  • ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Instagram video) breaks down the contract signed by Isaiah Todd, the 31st pick in the draft for the Wizards. The four-year, $6.9MM contract will pay Todd $1.5MM in year one, about $600K more than the minimum. The first three years are guaranteed with a $2MM team option in year four. Marks adds it’s likely the team option is declined in year four in order to make Todd a restricted free agent. Keith Smith of Spotrac has the year-by-year breakdown here.
  • Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald writes that the Heat, in their offseason dealing, essentially chose the path that would allow them to sign Tucker, rather than keeping Precious Achiuwa and signing someone else (ie. Jeff Green) using the $4.9MM room exception. Jackson adds that Summer League standout Marcus Garrett is a top candidate for one of the Heat’s two two-way contracts.
  • Heat big man Udonis Haslem is still deciding what his future holds when he eventually retires from basketball, but is happy to continue his playing career for now, as Winderman writes. Appearing on teammate Duncan Robinson‘s podcast, Haslem said: “Miami is my home, it’s my city. Why not still be a part of what’s going on there and still be able to move the needle and impact and hopefully win more championships?” Haslem added that team ownership has been on his mind for a long time, and that he’s had many conversations with ex-teammate Dwyane Wade on the subject.

Heat Notes: Tucker, Oladipo, Haslem, Vincent, Okpala

P.J. Tucker was looking for the right situation in free agency and he believes he has found it with the Heat, according to Barry Jackson and Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Tucker won a ring after being traded to Milwaukee in March, but the Bucks had limited resources to offer him. He wound up signing with Miami for $15MM over two years.

“When you’re a free agent, you’re looking for a fit, coaching styles, team styles, and this (team) is exactly what I do,” Tucker said after the signing was formally announced earlier today. “Last year, I trained in Miami. So this has been a long time coming. I’m super excited.”

Tucker averaged just 3.7 PPG last season with the Rockets and Bucks, but he has a reputation as one of the league’s best defenders. He’s expected to split time at power forward with fellow new addition Markieff Morris. Tucker thinks the Heat are positioned to become contenders again in the East after being swept in the first round last season.

“We have a tough team with guys that get after it. It’s going to be fun,” he said. “You look at our roster, we’re going to be a tough, gritty team, guys that play two ways, can switch multiple positions. More than anything, I can see us being united. Guys who are like minded and play the same way. If you have a bunch of guys like that on the same team, you have special things happening.”

There’s more from Miami:

  • The Heat are hoping Victor Oladipo may be cleared for full contact by November and could be ready to play in March, Jackson and Chiang state in the same story. A right knee injury limited Oladipo to four games after being acquired in a mid-season trade with Houston, and he underwent surgery on his quadriceps tendon in May. Oladipo re-signed on a one-year, minimum-salary contract that will pay him about $2.4MM.
  • Miami announced all its major offseason moves on Friday and Saturday, and one roster spot still remains open for veteran big man Udonis Haslem, the authors add. The 41-year-old hasn’t decided whether he will return for another season.
  • The Heat expect to have Gabe Vincent and KZ Okpala available when the Las Vegas Summer League starts on Sunday, tweets Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Both players represented Nigeria in the Summer Olympics and didn’t take part in this week’s Summer League in Sacramento.

Heat Notes: Olympics, Dedmon, Robinson, Haslem

Nine Heat players spoke to reporters today as part of the team’s end-of-season media availability, and many of those players intend to represent their countries in international play this summer, as Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald details.

Nigeria, one of the eight countries to have already clinched its spot in the men’s basketball event at the Tokyo Olympics, has talked to Precious Achiuwa about playing this summer, but he has yet to make a final decision. Teammate Gabe Vincent will train with Nigeria and hopes to make the Olympic roster.

Nemanja Bjelica, meanwhile, plans to play for Serbia at the Tokyo Olympics, while Omer Yurtseven – who signed with the Heat at the end of the season – intends to be part of the Turkish team as the club looks to secure an Olympic berth in next month’s qualifying tournament.

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • Veteran center Dewayne Dedmon said that he’d like to return to the Heat next season, but added, “That’s up to the people upstairs.” While Miami’s front office would probably reciprocate Dedmon’s interest, given how he played down the stretch, he’ll only have Non-Bird rights, limiting the team’s ability to give him much of a raise beyond the veteran’s minimum, as Jackson notes.
  • Asked about his priorities in free agency, Duncan Robinson offered the following response: “First and foremost, a fit, a place I can really feel comfortable. Winning is a priority for me. And also a business and there’s an opportunity to take care of people that I love.” Robinson will be a restricted free agent, so the Heat will have the ability to match if he signs an offer sheet.
  • Udonis Haslem remains undecided on whether he’ll retire or return to the Heat for 2021/22, but he made it clear he doesn’t take his spot on the roster for granted, as Jackson writes. “I don’t have an offseason. I’m 40 years old. If I have an offseason, I might as well retire,” Haslem said. “Straight from the season to back in the gym. I’m calling Bam (Adebayo); his (butt) is coming with me. I’m calling Precious. He’s coming with me.” Haslem added that he doesn’t have interest in coaching, but suggested he wants to eventually own part of a franchise, according to Jackson.

Southeast Notes: Haslem, Oladipo, Brooks, Magic

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.”