Heat’s Udonis Haslem opts out, becomes an unrestricted free agent

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The plan for the Miami Heat this summer was fairly simple going in: get everyone that can to opt out of their current contracts, in order to sign longer-term deals for more guaranteed money in total, which will pay the players less in the immediate future and create the salary cap space necessary to upgrade the roster.

LeBron James has already opted out, and Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are more than likely to do the same.

While questions are technically in place surrounding whether they’ll all return, Udonis Haslem opting out of his deal appears to be solely for the purpose of executing Pat Riley’s plan.

From Ethan Skolnick of Bleacher Report:

Udonis Haslem has opted out of his contract. As I’ve been reporting, Haslem — now that he’s opted out — is open to extension with Miami. Wants to be here. Wheels in motion. Haslem, Bosh, Wade all have same representation. So, yes, plans are in concert. Freeing up money for Riley to work.

And to be very clear, Haslem is doing this to benefit the Heat (and get a little security), not to leave the Heat.

Haslem had a player option for next season at $4.6 million — expect him to re-sign for up to four years for double that. He’s no longer a key rotation player for Miami, having appeared in just 46 regular season contests while averaging career lows in points (3.8), rebounds (3.8) and minutes (14.2). But he is seen as a reliable veteran locker room presence, and can come in handy at times.

For those reasons, along with his willingness to help the team financially, expect him to be rewarded with a new deal — but one that pays him less per season, and frees up some cap space for Miami to add some much-needed talent.