NBA Rumor: Udonis Haslem Retirement?

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Wade late last season bought into the Utah Jazz’s new ownership group. For Haslem, there is only one logical place for such a pursuit of his own, having earned in excess of $65 million over his career. The latest Forbes valuation of the Heat is $2 billion, which would put a one-percent ownership stake at $20 million. “What better place to do it than in my city? It’s genuine. It’s real,” he said. “I can still move the needle around this NBA. I have some many relationships with so many NBA players, just because I am the OG. So they value my opinion.”

Erik Spoelstra wants Udonis Haslem back next season

Spoelstra, for his part, said he hopes Haslem will be back yet again next season. “A little bit,” Spoelstra said, when asked if he has lobbied for Haslem to come back next season. “It’s not like I’ve been openly recruiting him, but I just continue to tell him, like, ‘We don’t have to make any kind of decision now. Let’s kick this down the road.’ Everybody knows in this building, but most importantly in that locker room, the level of impact that he has. That’s developing leaders in that locker room, and helping teach and cultivate a culture that means something to us. It’s not him just barking that out; it’s rolling up his sleeves and developing the next wave of leaders in the Heat culture, and I just think that’s been amazing.

It could be this year, he conceded, but a bubble retirement does not quite feel right. “It’s hard to tell you what’s going to happen tomorrow in the bubble,” Haslem said. “So I can’t really get that far yet, I am trying to see if I can get these guys to a championship and we’ll move on from there. Ideally, you talk about having an opportunity to retire, retirement speeches, family and friends involved, right now COVID takes all that away. It is hard to make that decision right now.”

Has the extra alone time in the bubble allowed you to think about the decision you’ll face at the end of the season? Udonis Haslem: “Its like, how do you do a retirement in a situation like this? Do I do a Zoom call and just have everybody sign in? So it’s just something to think about. But right now, I’m just focused on driving this boat. Like my boy D-Wade told me, ‘Just play out every season and take your time and figure it out in the summer time. You earned that.’ So I’m going to play out the season and I’m going to figure it out in the summer time. I earned that. That’s how I’m going to do it every year. I used to worry myself toward the end of every year. ‘OK, what am I going to do? It’s getting close toward the end.’ I’m not doing that to myself no more.”

Udonis Haslem: As long as I can continue to have that effect, I’m going to continue to drive these guys. Because I know there are times guys wanted to quit or guys wanted to shut it down or guys have been mentally or physically exhausted or messed up in the head, and I’ve made a call or I’ve pulled them to the side or I went to his room or we went to dinner or we just hung out. And then I see a completely new person, and I’ve seen that translate into wins for us as a team. So as long as I can continue to do things like that for us, man, I know there’s a need for me to continue to drive this and help these guys. That’s what it’s all about. I don’t have to do it the way coaches do it. I don’t have to do it the way that society thinks I should do it. I’m going to do it the way I want to do it.”

Udonis Haslem still undecided about retirement

Haslem, 39, reiterated that he’s still undecided on whether to retire or continue his playing career at the end of this season. And yes, the fact that this season has been suspended and is in limbo could factor into his decision. “It’s hard to really say now because all the things that I really wanted at the end have been taken away from me,” said Haslem, who is in his 17th NBA season. “You want to walk away on your own terms, that has been taken away. You want an opportunity for the people that have loved and supported you and sacrificed so much for you to be here in this time of your career, that has been taken away. And you want to have something connected with the organization when you walk away.”

This is supposedly his farewell before retiring after 17 seasons in the NBA. The circumstances haven’t allowed it to enter his mind, especially the past two weeks. The league has been suspended since March 11 because the coronavirus outbreak, so Haslem’s finale has been put on hold. “Yeah, I mean, everybody, obviously, it comes to mind,” Haslem said on a conference call Friday. “For me, I’m still maintaining hope that we can salvage some of the basketball season. So I haven’t gotten to that point yet. And in the midst of all this, there is a lot going on. So I’m focused on a lot of different things right now that are keeping me occupied, as far as not really thinking about what’s going to happen as far as my last basketball game.”

While the expectation was that this would be Haslem’s final NBA season, he cautions against making such an assumption. Haslem, 39, is in his 17th NBA season. Asked if he’s certain this will be his final season, Haslem indicated he’s not. “I can’t say,” Haslem said earlier this month. “The guys want me around. Bam [Adebayo] tells me every day, ‘I don’t know what the hell I’m going to do when you retire.’ Jimmy [Butler] always has me around. We’ll see. My kids are getting older. We’ll see.”

Udonis Haslem: I’ve never been the one to listen to outside noise. Key word is listen. Doesn’t mean I don’t hear. See the thing most average minded people don’t get is if I let your expectations of me define me then I wouldn’t be here today. Problem is majority of this world is average ASF!! Nobody ever expected shit from a young fat kid from liberty city. Hell why would they? But I’m thankful they didn’t. I guess I shouldn’t own Subways, and Einstein, and Auntie Ann’s, and Starbucks, and 800 Degrees Woodfire kitchens either huh? What I’ve grown to realize in my life is that my obsession with success, my drive to overcome obstacles, and my overall work ethics is way higher than most. And I’m ok with that. It makes sense why most think I should retire at 39. Cause most would. Cause most are average minded. Most don’t look like this at 39! Hell they ain’t look like this at 19. Lol. So y’all keep worrying about the last spot on the roster while I sit back and stay ready so I don’t gotta get ready.

Udonis Haslem: I’m not saying I’m playing next year but if u with me then u will support whatever I do!! Not tell me what to do!! And if that ain’t good enough for u, in the words of Barbara Wooten [expletive] ya!! U was never wit me anyway!! Oh and one more thing. You out your 🐰 ass mind if you think I can’t still play this game. I’ll sleepwalk into a double double cause I’m just built different!! Y’all should know that by now but keep hating. I need y’all!! A chain is only as strong as its weakest link and if I’m the weak link that’s a hell of a [expletive] chain!!

The Heat have filled Howard’s spot with the hiring of former Minnesota Timberwolves assistant Malik Allen, the former Heat player. Still, a vacancy from previous shuffling remains on Erik Spoelstra’s bench. But Riley recognized that Haslem also has created a rich life away from the court, with several South Florida enterprises, including an Aventura restaurant he operates with Wade. “He wants to buy pizza franchises and stuff,” Riley said. “There’s nothing wrong with that either.”

He is contemplating playing another season with the Heat instead of following close friend Dwyane Wade into retirement in a few months. “I’m not 100 percent sure I’m done,” Haslem said. “I know I said I had nothing else to prove. It’s coming close but, man, I still have so much to give. … We’ll see. I’m going to talk to (Heat CEO) Nick Arison and talk to the guys and just weigh my options. I’ve still got the fire to burn. I’ve still got something to contribute.”

If Haslem decides to call it quits, he wants to remain around the organization in some capacity. He has spoken with former players like Michael Finley, who is now the vice president of basketball operations with the Mavericks. Haslem has no interest in holding a full-time position like that, but he would love a role that’s a good mix of front office and player. “I want to get a Tim Duncan role,” Haslem said. “I want to be able to come to practice and practice sometimes and work out with the guys. I want to be a jack of all trades, a Swiss Army knife. I’m always going to stay in shape.”

Haslem, who turns 38 on June 9, reiterated that he couldn’t envision such a transition because it wouldn’t allow himself to be himself. “I don’t want to do coaching; the coaching is not for me,” he said. “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.”

Management, though, remains intriguing, as a bridge to making sure there is no divergence from culture that has transformed the franchise and allowed Haslem to share in three NBA championships. “It could possibly be something that intrigues me,” he 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 those who ask why the Heat uses a roster spot on Udonis Haslem, who played just 72 minutes in 14 games this season, Goran Dragic provided a revealing answer that explains his true value: “It’s really tough to explain to people outside what he means to this team,” Dragic said several days after the season ended. “Everybody is looking, ‘OK, he’s not playing’ but they don’t know how much he brings to this team, especially with his experience and leadership.

Goran Dragic on Udonis Haslem continued: “A lot of guys in this locker room need leadership like UD, especially Hassan [Whiteside]. I think UD can provide that. He’s there where usually some guys would not be, in the toughest moments, when you need something, he’s there. That’s why everybody loves him. I played with a lot of veteran guys who had successful careers — like UD, Steve Nash, Grant Hill, Amare Stoudemire — [and Haslem] is number one in my books as a player and a leader and a friend.”

Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem have an important decision to make this summer. Will they continue their playing careers or retire? That decision won’t be made days after the Heat’s season-ending loss in Philadelphia. With a long offseason ahead, the 36-year-old Wade and 37-year-old Haslem will take their time. “We haven’t really thought about it,” Haslem said Friday on exit interview day. “We’re both in situations where we have a lot of different opportunities ahead of us.

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.
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