PHILADELPHIA – Dwyane Wade is not the only member of the Miami Heat who has a career decision to make at the end of the season.
Udonis Haslem, who came into the league the same year as Wade, also will weigh his options once the season ends. And although Haslem said today that he has not made a decision – “I got a lot of time to think about that this summer,” he said – he has started cherishing the experiences more with the end nearing.
“As you get older and you spend more time in this league and around younger guys, you just start to soak everything in a little more,” Haslem, 37, said following the Heat’s shootaround in preparation for tonight’s Game 5 against the Sixers. Miami trails in the series, 3-1.
“It just gradually comes with the territory, comes with the job. As every year goes by, I started to appreciate different things about the job and the situation, opportunities that I’ve had the last 15 years. But, also, I’ve started to appreciate more the things that I missed out on over the last 15 years. So, it’s one of those things where I’ll take my time in the summer and just decide what my next step will be.”
Haslem’s value to the Heat transcends his minutes. He played in just 14 games, averaging just 5.1 minutes and scoring eight points all season.
But it was Haslem often seen mentoring players, walking onto the court during time outs to seek out a teammate and even getting into a huddle to share his opinion. Several players have cited Haslem’s leadership and experience contributing to their growth and development.
Haslem and Wade are close friends. Both are in their 15th season and have been teammates for 13.5 of those. They have that bond of coming into the league at the same time (2003) and are the only players in Heat history to be a part of three championships. Their families vacation together during the summer.
And they have talked about retiring together so their decisions could be tied to one another. Wade was asked the same question about possibly retiring after Miami’s Game 4 loss and said he “didn’t want to answer that right now.”
Haslem was asked today if it will be a package deal with Wade if they return.
“If we’re going to split the money. … because I know he going to get more than me,” Haslem joked. “That’s the only way we’re going to package it, we’ll crunch that money down the middle.
“Nah, you know what, we want to finish. That’s something we’ve talked about and that’s been our goal. But things change. So, we’ll see. We’re going to have a lot of conversations this summer. He’s going to try to teach me how to play golf. I don’t know how in the hell, because he just learned. But we’re going to have a lot of conversations this summer, too, so we’ll figure it out.”