MIAMI — Udonis Haslem is staying in Miami.
Need proof? Heat owner Micky Arison tweeted Thursday afternoon, “UD” accompanied by a party hat emoji.
Then came the confirmation shortly after Arison’s tweet, as the Heat announced they have re-signed Haslem. The 37-year-old forward is preparing for his 15th NBA season, with the first 14 seasons all coming with the Heat.
Haslem re-signed with the Heat on a one-year, veteran minimum contract worth about $2.3 million, according to a league source.
“It is a great, great, day to have Udonis Haslem sign a contract for his 15th season with the Miami Heat,” Heat president Pat Riley said in a statement. “He isn’t just Mr. 305, he is a true patriarch of the team. Today we are proud to announce that he is back to lead the Heat again.”
Miami has no salary cap space remaining, which means the Heat could only offer Haslem the $4.3 million room exception or a minimum contract. By signing Haslem to a minimum deal, it allows Miami to keep its room exception available as Riley said last week the team plans to “sit tight” and “hold on to the room mid-level” after signing Haslem.
With Haslem, the Heat now have 14 players under contract for the 2017-18 season: center Hassan Whiteside ($23.8 million), guard Goran Dragic ($17 million), forward James Johnson ($14 million), guard Dion Waiters ($11 million), center/forward Kelly Olynyk ($10.6 million), guard Wayne Ellington ($6.3 million), guard Tyler Johnson ($5.9 million), forward Justise Winslow ($2.7 million), center/forward Bam Adebayo ($2.5 million), forward Udonis Haslem ($2.3 million), guard Josh Richardson ($1.5 million), guard Rodney McGruder ($1.3 million), center A.J. Hammons ($1.3 million), forward Okaro White ($1.3 million).
Haslem, a Miami native, didn’t play much last season, as he appeared in just 16 games despite staying healthy. He played in just three of the Heat’s final 41 games of the season — Miami’s 30-11 stretch.
With his limited playing time, Haslem averaged 1.9 points and 2.3 rebounds in 8.1 minutes per game. Now with Adebayo and Olynyk joining the roster and James Johnson returning, Haslem’s playing time could be scarce this upcoming season, too.
“I got no reason to stop playing,” Haslem said at the end of last season when asked about his future. “I still got a lot of gas in the tank.
“When you get to this point you have a decision to make, do you want to be around an organization to help rebuild or do you want to go somewhere and try to help somebody win a title? That’s a decision I’ll be faced with. For me I enjoy being a part of the rebuilding process.”
Haslem’s experience and leadership are invaluable, as he’s spent each of the past 10 seasons as a Heat captain. He’s won three championships during his time with the Heat, and his 14-season tenure is the longest in team history.
Haslem is the franchise’s all-time leader in offensive, defensive and total rebounds and also ranks among the Heat’s all-time leaders in games played (2nd), starts (2nd), minutes (2nd) and double-doubles (3rd). He is the only undrafted player in NBA history to lead a franchise in total rebounds.
Last season, Haslem was as close to a player-coach as anybody in the league, mentoring many of his teammates. With 830 games played, he is 25 shy of equaling Dwyane Wade’s franchise record.
“I love UD. How else can I say it?” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said at the end of last season. “He’s the last one, the last samurai from the championship years. He embodies everything that we want from a Miami Heat player. I’ve said it time and time again. You want to see what a Miami Heat player is? Look at a picture of UD. You watch him in action every day, his preparation, his professionalism, his character, you’ll find out what we want out of a Miami Heat player.”