Despite only appearing in one game last season for a total of two minutes and 40 seconds before getting ejected for an altercation with then-Sixers’ veteran Dwight Howard, his tenure and presence on the sidelines have garnered him legendary status not just from the Heat front office and his teammates, but from across the entire league.
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Fellow veteran power forward, Blake Griffin, who for months last season was linked to possibly joining the Heat after the Detroit Pistons bought out his colossal contract, couldn’t help but praise Haslem while appearing on the Pardon My Take podcast.
Griffin, 32, ultimately landed with the Brooklyn Nets, but passing on the Heat did not affect his overall outlook on the man who’s so far earned three championship rings during his time in Miami.
Haslem joined the Heat in 2003, but he hasn’t been a permanent part of the rotation since the 2014-15 season. Over the past four years, despite very little time on the court, he’s found himself a niche role as the team’s de facto leader and mentor.
While opening up basketball cards on Pardon My Take on August 31, Griffin pauses to admire Haslem’s gold card. While the hosts comment on how “he’s still in the NBA” and how he’s earned a “contract for life” with the Heat, the Rookie of the Year imparts some fascinating wisdom on Haslem’s reputation.
When asked if Haslem is “universally respected” in the NBA, with a “100% approval rating,” Griffin nods. “Gotta be the highest in the league,” he says.
Haslem Signed a 1-Year Veteran’s Minimum Contract
Haslem signed a one-year veteran’s minimum contract ($2.6 million), the same deal he signed for the 2020-21 NBA season, per Sun Sentinel‘s Ira Winderman, with his contract counting against the salary cap at $1.7 million.
With Haslem’s return, Miami’s front office has locked in 14 roster spots for the 2021-22 NBA season. While NBA teams can have a maximum of 15 standard-contract players on their roster, it’s acceptable to keep that number to 14 players.
The Heat will retain Haslem for as long as he still wants to play. Heat’s head coach Erik Spoelstra says he can’t put a value on what Haslem provides for the team.
“Everybody in that locker room just has great respect and love for him,” Spoelstra said. “He’s all about the team,” Spoelstra said last season… “He’s a Miami Heat hall of famer, and his number will go up in the rafters as soon as he’s done.”
Miami Heat’s 2021-22 NBA Roster So Far
While the Heat said goodbye to Kendrick Nunn, Andre Iguodala, Trevor Ariza, and Nemanja Bjelica, the team also lost Goran Dragic and Precious Achiuwa in the deal that brought Kyle Lowry to Miami.
In addition to Haslem, the following 13 players are locked in for the Heat’s 2021-22 NBA season: