MIAMI — Udonis Haslem isn’t sure if he will continue his playing career, but he does know that he doesn’t want to get into coaching.
“I don’t want to do coaching, the coaching is not for me,” Haslem said Saturday at the opening of the new Brightline train station in downtown Miami, a venue that includes the latest Starbucks and Einstein Bros. Bagel locations he helps operate. “Being in the locker room and being able to have that raw side where I can still be a player and I can still be brutally honest and I don’t have to be politically correct or play the political side of things. It gives me a little more leeway to communicate with my guys being a player, as opposed to a coach.”
But Haslem, who turns 38 on June 9, must still decide if he wants to play a 16th NBA season.
Based on the offseason Instagram videos he posts of his rigorous workouts, retirement doesn’t seem to be in his immediate future. However, Haslem said his workout regimen is just part of a lifestyle, not a sign that he will return to the Heat this upcoming season.
“I’m always gonna train. That’s not going to stop,” he said. “When you get to this stage of your career and your life, you either do it or you don’t. You can’t really turn it on and off, it becomes a lifestyle. When you’re 30 and 30-plus, it becomes something that is part of your routine. It’s not like I can stop, start, stop, start. You can’t do it like that. So I’m always going to train and stay in shape.”
The conversation between the Heat and Haslem regarding a possible return will take place down the road, with formal free-agent talks unable to take place until July 1. If the Heat’s captain does sign on for a 16th season, it’s expected to be on a veteran’s minimum contract for the second consecutive year.
“We haven’t had the conversation,” Haslem said. “I’m assuming that everybody’s watching the playoffs, everybody is kind of paying attention and seeing how things go. I’m sure our guys are working upstairs to try to make this team the best they can, possibly next year. My situation and my conversation will be something that will happen a little bit further down the line. There’s other things that they can focus on right now, other things I’m going to focus on right now.”
And right now, Haslem’s focus is not on basketball.
“Basketball season is over for me,” he said. “I take the time to watch LeBron [James] and cheer for the guys who I know personally. But my mind is on another situation right now. My mind is on business, my mind is on family.”
Although coaching doesn’t seem to be in Haslem’s future, the Miami native wants to be a part of the Heat organization even after his playing career comes to an end. A management position intrigues him, even if it’s just to make sure the culture he helped create is passed on to the next generation of Heat players.
“It could possibly be something that intrigues me,” Haslem said. “But more so than anything, I just want to be a part of the organization. We haven’t really defined a role or I haven’t defined a role. But I’m going to be a part of the organization. I’ve laid down a lot of groundwork, the roots.
“For me it’s more so important that the culture is carried on and is taken care of by the right guys. So, for me, the culture was given down to Dwyane [Wade] and myself from the Zos [Alonzo Mourning] and those guys and Eddie Joneses, and they transferred the culture down to us. So it’s my job to transfer it.”
That’s been Haslem’s role for the past few seasons, as his playing time has continued to dwindle. He logged just 72 minutes in 14 games this past season, but it’s his leadership in the locker room that made him an important part of the roster.
“I tried to mentor all of our guys,” Haslem said. “I’m going to try to mentor everybody. I’m going to give 100 percent to Hassan. I’m going to give 100 percent to J.J. [James Johnson]. I’m going to give 100 percent to Justise [Winslow]. Some guys are going to react a certain way and some guys not. You can’t focus on that.
“If you can help 10 guys and one guy you might not get the reaction that you want or you might not get the reaction you’re looking for, that doesn’t mean you failed. You’ll still be able to help 10 guys who are around the locker room. And you ask each guy, I’ve helped each guy.”