The Heat are rewarding their longest-tenured player after he previously took a discount to stay in Miami.
Udonis Haslem, who replaced Wade as the Heat’s elder statesman.
Ethan J. Skolnick of the Miami Herald:
Haslem opted out of a contract that would’ve paid him $4,620,000 in 2014-15 to give the Heat more flexibility. He re-signed on a deal that paid him $2,732,000 that season.
Though the new contract also contained a $2,854,940 salary for last season, Haslem would’ve made more by opting in then getting even a minimum contract. It’s possible Haslem feared falling out of the NBA, but that seems far-fetched.
It’s a reasonable concern now, though. Haslem is 36, and he played just 37 games last season. Even with a significantly reduced work load, his production has fallen off.
So, it’s hard to see this $4 million as anything Miami repaying a loyal player at a more convenient time. The Heat have plenty of cap space left this summer after letting Wade walk.
Miami long operated in a gray area of contract negotiations, repeatedly getting players to take discounts in exchange for better teammates and/or bigger paydays down the road. For that to work, the Heat have to prove they’ll take care of players on the backend. They’re no longer producing championship-level teams like when they had LeBron James, Wade and Chris Bosh. So, the payoff has to be monetary.
Haslem is the beneficiary of Miami keeping its reputation in tact.