Udonis Haslem is an active member of the Miami Heat‘s roster, however, he has not seen one minute of action during the entire first half of the 2020-2021 season. Haslem is not injured, nor is he sitting out due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
The 40-year-old veteran is in his 18th season with the Heat, and his role is not as a forward, but a mentor. “He’s just an incredible rock of stability and leadership and mentorship,” Spoelstra said during the 2019 NBA Finals. “That’s at all levels. It’s not just to our young players. It’s to our veteran players. And he provides just great guidance and mentorship to this head coach as well. I love him.”
While it’s wonderful to have Haslem on the sideline as a key enforcer of Heat culture, Miami’s problem at the forward position is way worse than anyone expected, and that roster spot is precious territory.
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South Florida Sun Sentinel’s Ira Winderman spoke of the Heat’s desperate situation at power forward while appearing on the Onside Zone with Big O on March 3.
Following the Heat’s loss to the Atlanta Hawks on March 2, which ended Miami’s six-game win streak, “Kelly Olynyk gets his fourth foul, and Erik Spoelstra has no choice but to go even smaller,” Winderman said. “From 6-11 to 6-6 with Andre Iguodala. ”
“Here’s the problem… look at the heat power rotation and who isn’t playing. Moe Harkless was brought in to be Jae Crowder. He doesn’t play. Udonis Haslem is brought in to be a leader he hasn’t played a single minute the entire first half of the season! Meyers Leonard is out injured.”
“Chris Silva – Erik Spoelstra says I wouldn’t think twice about putting him in there, but he never puts him in there,” Winderman continued. “And He’s tried KZ Okpala and he’s giving him chances and that simply hasn’t worked…. that’s five options at power forward on a 15-man standard NBA roster that are unusable.”
“They’ve got to find something to do there… that void at power forward is glaring as anything on this team and maybe anything in the Heat’s division right. They’ve got to find their guy.”
Haslem Has Played His Entire NBA Career With the Heat
Haslem, who first signed with the Heat in 2003, has left the door open for extending his career past the 2020-2021 season. Even though he only played four games last season, and has scored a total of 76 points of the past four seasons, Coach Spo loves what he brings to the franchise.
“Once you walk away and you can’t play no more, you really can’t play anymore,” Haslem told The Undefeated in April 2019. “So while I can, I want to be around it.” He said:
I’ve had opportunities to go play other places for more money, and you play this game to win and provide for your family. So it was always that dilemma where, ‘Can I win at this place? If I can’t, is it an opportunity to make X amount of dollars?’ Which at the end of the day, ultimately when you walk away from this game, that’s what you living off of. So, for me, it’s never been an easy decision.
Ultimately, Haslem remained in Miami because it’s where he feels his best. “If I lose my identity, then money means nothing,” Haslem said. “Miami has allowed me to keep my identity no matter what. People talk about security and going different places. You go anywhere in my city… and it’s all love, and I love that. That’s priceless to me.”
Heat Have Been Linked to 10 Free Agent Options
Name an available forward becoming available, and there’s likely a report linking them to the Heat. The franchise is trying to avoid the embarrassment of coming off an NBA Finals run only to miss out on the playoffs entirely the following season. And like Winderman noted, the focus is on obtaining a power forward.
The Heat have their eyes on more than a few players around the league. Big names tossed around thus far include:
- Houston Rockets’ DeMarcus Cousins, P.J. Tucker and Victor Oladipo
- Sacramento Kings’ Nemanja Bjelica
- San Antonio Spurs’ Rudy Gay
- Cleveland Cavaliers’ Andre Drummond
- Toronto Raptors Kyle Lowry
- New Orleans Pelicans’ Lonzo Ball
- Atlanta Hawks’ John Collins
- Chicago Bulls’ Thaddeus YoungREAD NEXT: Miami Heat Could Easily Land Blake Griffin Amid Buyout Update: Report