This current season he has played just once, making his debut in the Heat’s fixture against the Philadelphia 76ers’ but was ejected after just three minutes due to a physical play a moment which probably reminded many that he still exists.
At 40-years-old the veteran, who has played for the Heat since 2003, is unlikely to get many more minutes under his belt during his career. This isn’t a new thing either. In the past three years, he has played just 15 games in the NBA and just 45 since 2016.
Despite all this Haslem has a lucrative veteran’s contract that sees him earn $2.5 million. One could argue that the money could be better spent elsewhere but Haslem is still seen as a valuable member of the squad.
Heat staff argue that Haslem, as an experienced presence in the locker room and mentor to the younger players, is more valuable than bringing in prospective talent.
Erik Spoelstra, the head coach of the Heat told reporters on Thursday: “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.”
Praise for Haslem continued when former NBA star Channing Frye referred to him as a ‘seatbelt.’ Speaking on The Old Man and the Three podcast Frye said: You’re undervaluing seat belts in a really expensive Ferrari. Nobody ever cares that there are seatbelts in a Ferrari, but Udonis Haslem is the seatbelt — if anything goes wrong, he locks them up.”
Haslem, who is from Miami, did not confirm whether Thursday’s game was the last time we would see him on the court before he retired but he told reporters that if it was, then it was a good way to go out.