Udonis Haslem wants playing time and he’s willing to go overseas to get it

Heat forward Udonis Haslem has played in nine games this season. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

HOLLYWOOD — Udonis Haslem wants to play basketball next season, but he’s just not sure if it’s going to be with the Heat.

After spending the first 15 seasons of his NBA career with the Heat, Haslem said he will consider playing elsewhere next season to get more playing time. Elsewhere could mean playing in China or another overseas league.

“Every time I talk to the guys, they want me to come back, they want to know,” Haslem said to reporters Thursday at the Heat’s youth summer camp at South Broward High. “I don’t know. I’m just chilling, having fun. I’ve got a lot of energy. It ain’t always getting exerted on the court, so I got to figure out somewhere to put it. I still got game left in me. I might just go play in China or Europe or something. I’ve got some game left and I ain’t really trying to waste it too much more. So I’m going to figure it out.”

Haslem, who turned 38 on June 9, hasn’t had a consistent playing role with the Heat for the past three seasons and logged just 72 minutes in 14 games this past season. Instead, he’s taken more of a leadership role as a 15-year veteran who has won three NBA championships in Miami.

“Hell yeah, man, I can play,” Haslem said when asked if he would really consider playing overseas. “I ain’t joking. Listen man, I don’t work out just to work out. I got plenty of other things I could be doing besides going to gym, working out every day and having a strict diet and not playing at all. It’s a lot of things I could be doing besides that, so I just might go play in China. I don’t know. I want to play.

“I mean, at the end of the day, I watch guys that contribute on championship teams. I watch a David West and I watch these guys, my age, and they’re contributing on championship-caliber teams and I feel like I can do the same thing. It’s just part of me that you got to feel like, I got to see what I want to do next year. That’s my dilemma.”

Haslem has some experience playing overseas, as he started his professional career in France before signing with the Heat as an undrafted rookie in 2003. The Miami native is the Heat’s all-time leader in offensive, defensive and total rebounds.

“I mean, I know they want me to come back, but it’s also a selfless part of me that gives, gives, gives, and then there’s a part of me where I’ve got to start thinking about myself sometimes,” Haslem said. “So, that’s the dilemma for me. I’ve got to start thinking about myself.

“I enjoy being around the guys. I enjoy giving life to the guys. I enjoy working out with the guys. I enjoy seeing the things that we do off the court manifest to those guys on the court and having success. But, you know, at the end of the day, I still go home a little bit frustrated because I still can play.”

If Haslem does sign on for a 16th season, it’s expected to be on a veteran’s minimum contract for the second consecutive year.

Excluding cap holds, the Heat have 10 players under contract for 2018-19 who are due about $119 million: center Hassan Whiteside ($25.4 million), guard Tyler Johnson ($19.2 million), guard Goran Dragic ($18.1 million), forward James Johnson ($14.7 million), center Kelly Olynyk ($12.5 million), guard Dion Waiters ($11.6 million), forward/guard Josh Richardson ($9.4 million), forward Justise Winslow ($3.5 million), center Bam Adebayo ($3.0 million) and guard/forward Rodney McGruder ($1.5 million — assuming Miami guarantees his salary).

“I mean, those guys want me back, man,” he said. “I want to be back. I got to just, for me, it’s the elephant in the room — I’m a competitor. That’s never going to leave me. I’m going to die a competitor. I work hard for a reason. I’m not a 30-minute-a-night guy anymore, but I’m a guy that can contribute and help guys win. And that’s the only part I want to be able to do. And if it’s not here, I don’t know where it’s going to be, but I want to help somebody win some basketball games.”

Haslem’s close friend and Heat teammate Dwyane Wade also has to make a decision regarding his future. Wade is still undecided whether he will retire or return for a 16th NBA season.

The two talk about their future, but Haslem is keeping those conversations private.

“Me and Dwyane, we talk daily,” Haslem said. “I talked to him on the way here. We have great conversations. I don’t want to talk about too much what we talk about. Some of those conversations are his conversations to have with you guys, not mine. I can only have my personal conversations with you guys. But we piggy back off each other, we lean off each other a lot. A lot of the conversations that we’re having, hopefully we can make a decision together. But we both know that doesn’t always work out the way we hope it to.”

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