Photo by DavidRosario.com
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. â€” Udonis Haslem expects Dwyane Wade to return to the Miami Heat next season. He just doesn’t know if he’ll be alongside his longtime teammate. Speaking Tuesday at a Heat summer camp event, Haslem revealed that he and Wade are talking daily. And while Wade hasn’t come out and told Haslem what he’s going to do after opting out of his contract and becoming a free agent at 12:01 a.m. on July 1, there’s been indications that have Haslem believing the 2006 NBA finals MVP isn’t going elsewhere.
“I don’t know what he’s thinking but I would hope he would stay in Miami,” Haslem said. “And I think he will.”
Wade is one of the gems in this summer’s free agent megaclass, alongside LeBron James, Chris Bosh and others. Wade has made his stance perfectly clear for months: If Miami has a roster good enough to contend for an NBA championship, he’ll happily re-sign with the Heat. Otherwise, he’ll look elsewhere.
Haslem doesn’t think Wade will have to call any moving trucks.
“If I had a nickel for every time somebody asked me about Dwyane’s free agency, I wouldn’t have to sign a contract either. It’s like I represent him,” said Haslem, whose agent is Henry Thomas also Wade’s rep. “Yeah, I do get a lot of questions about myself as well, but I probably get more questions about Dwyane. … In a perfect world, I’m sure Dwyane would love to be back here, I would love to be back here, but that’s just not how it always ends up.”
Haslem is a free agent as well, having just completed a five-year deal with Miami. He came to the Heat in 2003, the same season Wade joined Miami, and the two have been linked ever since. Wade said when the season ended he hoped the Heat would strongly consider keeping Haslem and Dorell Wright, two of his closest friends in the locker room.
The question with Haslem is, will Miami have enough cash to keep him?
Haslem is believed to be seeking at least a five-year deal worth in the neighborhood of $30-35 million, or roughly the same terms as the contract that he just completed with the Heat. Other teams will come calling Orlando is expected to be among those that could make a play for Haslem but Haslem, like Wade, is reluctant to think about leaving South Florida.
Haslem is a Miami native, graduate of Miami High and has deep ties in the area.
“I can’t imagine playing here without Dwyane,” Haslem said. “I’m not saying it can’t come to that or it won’t come to that, but I really couldn’t imagine it.”