Haslem to return to Heat for 18th season

FILE PHOTO: NBA: Miami Heat at Indiana Pacers
FILE PHOTO: Aug 14, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; Miami Heat forward Udonis Haslem (40) dribbles as Indiana Pacers forward JaKarr Sampson (14) defends during the second half of a NBA basketball game at AdventHealth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

November 13, 2020

Udonis Haslem said Friday that he will return for his 18th season with the Miami Heat — the only team he’s played with since entering the NBA in 2003.

He will become just the sixth player in NBA history to spend at least 18 seasons with one team, joining Dirk Nowitzki (21 seasons with Dallas), Kobe Bryant (20, Los Angeles Lakers), John Stockton (19, Utah), Tim Duncan (19, San Antonio) and Reggie Miller (18, Indiana).

Haslem played just 44 minutes last season, appearing in only four games, but coach Erik Spoelstra has made it clear he values the veteran presence the 40-year-old brings to the locker room.

“He’s just an incredible rock of stability and leadership and mentorship,” Spoelstra said last month in the NBA bubble in Orlando. “That’s at all levels. It’s not just to our young players. It’s to our veteran players. And he provides just great guidance and mentorship to this head coach as well. I love him.”

The NBA period to sign players doesn’t begin until Nov. 22. He is expected to sign a one-year, $2.6 million deal.

A Miami native, Haslem played four seasons at Florida (1999-2002) and joined the Heat after playing overseas for one season.

The 6-foor-8 center is the Heat’s all-time leading rebounder with 5,754.

In all, he’s played 858 games (500 starts) with Miami, averaging 7.6 points and 6.7 rebounds. He won three NBA championships with the team — 2006, 2012 and 2013.

The Lakers beat the Heat in the 2019-20 NBA Finals last month in six games.

–Field Level Media