What was arguably the biggest Miami Heat-related decision since LeBron James announced that he’d be taking his talents to South Beach finally came down this week. And I’m not talking about the team’s top trade target, Kevin Durant, and the Brooklyn Nets deciding to run it back next season.
Rather, Heat lifer and three-time NBA champ Udonis Haslem finally announced that he would be returning for a 20th go-round with the club in 2022-23. Haslem revealed his plans for next season at his basketball camp in Miami on Sunday.
“I have decided to follow through with what me and my father (who passed away in 2021) had talked about, and I will finish what I started and I will play 20 years,” Haslem said, via ESPN. “I will play this year, because I talked about that with my father and that’s what we said we would do.
“It won’t be the same. Won’t be as easy. But the goal still remains the same. Win. Win a championship. Leave it on the line and hold your head high when it’s all over.”
After Haslem finally spoke out, Heat president Pat Riley dropped a doozy of his own about the 42-year-old’s future.
Heat to Honor Haslem’s Career
In the Heat’s official announcement of Haslem’s re-signing, Riley made a huge statement about the baller’s place in franchise history. The Godfather also confirmed that Haslem’s No. 40 would one day be hanging in the rafters alongside the digits belonging to Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Alonzo Mourning, Tim Hardaway and Shaquille O’Neal.
“From the first day that I saw him compete, to the last day when we retire his jersey at our FTX home, UD will go down in our team’s history as one of the best to ever play for the Miami Heat,” Riley said.
Over his 19 years in Miami, Haslem has appeared in 872 games, averaging 7.5 points, 6.6 rebounds and 0.5 steals per contest. Along the way, he has connected on 48.9% of his field-goal attempts and 75.6% of his free throws.
As per usual, Haslem is coming back to the Heat on a one-year, veteran’s minimum contract, which will pay him around $2.8 million next season.
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Nets, Former Heat Forward Eying Partnership?
According to Nets Daily‘s Chris Milholen, Brooklyn and free-agent forward Markieff Morris, who spent last season in Miami, have “mutual interest” in a deal for ’22-23.
It was expected that the 32-year-old Morris would play a large role for the Heat when he signed with the team last August. However, his scrap with Nikola Jokic — which ended with the Denver Nuggets star shoving Morris from behind, resulting in a serious neck injury — ultimately cost him the majority of his 2021-22 campaign.
All told, he appeared in just 17 regular-season games for the Heat (and just one playoff game). Over his 11-year career, Morris has averaged 10.9 points and 5.2 rebounds while shooting 34.1% from deep. He won a title with the LA Lakers in 2020.