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Udonis Haslem reveals why he chose to return to Heat

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MIAMI (AP) — Udonis Haslem arrived at the Miami Heat facility for a workout one day last week, and was told he needed to sign a waiver before he took the court.

The reason: Technically, he wasn’t on the team.

“That was a little weird, having to do that,” Haslem said.

It won’t be a problem for the next year. Haslem officially signed his one-year, $2.4 million contract with the Heat on Monday, a deal that was struck last week and finally became official when he put pen to paper. Haslem will enter his 16th NBA season, all with the Heat, and that means the Miami native will be with his hometown franchise for more than half of its 31-year history.

“For the hometown kid in me, that means the world,” Haslem said. “I wish I understood how big that is right now, because I really don’t, but I know it’s big.”

Haslem was the seventh-oldest player in the NBA last season – and will rise at least one spot on that list this season, with the retirement of San Antonio’s Manu Ginobili. Vince Carter is 41 and will play for Atlanta, Dirk Nowitzki is 40 and back with Dallas, and Haslem is 38.

“It’s great to have our captain back,” Heat President Pat Riley said.

The others who played last season and are older than Haslem are Jason Terry, Damien Wilkins and Jamal Crawford. They all remain unsigned for the coming season.

So, too, does Dwyane Wade. He and Haslem are the only two players who were part of all three Heat championship teams. Haslem said he’s busily recruiting his business partner – the pair shares several off-court interests, including a pizza chain – to come back as well.

“My mindset has always been for us to finish it together,” Haslem said. “I want us to do a whole season together. Experience the road, dinner on the road, go through that whole process. I want us to experience that together.”

Wade tweeted his congratulations to Haslem when the deal was signed.

“You are (the) most selfless person I’ve ever met,” Wade said in his tweet.

Haslem appeared in only 14 games last season, and hasn’t had much of a role with the Heat in the last three seasons. Haslem believes he can still play – he has kept himself in tremendous condition – but knows that he probably won’t have a big on-court presence again.

Still, a meeting with Heat coach Erik Spoelstra last week helped seal the deal to return.

“Me and Spo were honest with each other,” Haslem said. “Honesty is not always telling somebody what they want to hear. And we both have gotten to that point in our careers where we value each other’s opinions, whether we want to hear them or not. We trust each other. We root for each other. We both have the best interests of this team in mind.”

But even if he doesn’t get much in the way of minutes, Haslem knows he’s valued. Spoelstra raves about the way he interacts and mentors teammates, and Haslem said that was a huge part of his decision as well.

“It’s about my love for the organization and my love for the guys,” Haslem said. “It wasn’t about me. If I was looking for playing time, I could have gone someplace else or played in China or something. But at the end of the day, would it have made me as happy as being around this organization and being around these guys? No, I don’t think it would.”

 

Vince Carter on ring chasing: ‘I come from an era where that’s not how it was’

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Vince Carter is probably going into his final season in the NBA.

He could have done that with a contender. Golden State, Houston, other teams at the top of the NBA ladder would have welcomed him. Instead, Carter chose to sign with the Atlanta Hawks, a rebuilding team where he could be a mentor for young players and get a little more run.

Nobody would have blinked at Carter chasing a ring, but he said that’s not who he is.  Via Ian Begley of ESPN.

“I come from an era where that’s not how it was. So that’s still instilled in me. And I don’t have any problem with how it’s done now. (It’s) just not for me,” Carter, 41, said Thursday on a conference call for the Jr. NBA World Championships…

“I still want to play the game,” Carter, the oldest player in the NBA said. “Whatever minutes are there, I want (them).”

Players in the past did chase rings, including from Carter’s era (did you ever look at the 2004 Lakers’ roster?), it may not have been as common but it happened.

And there’s nothing wrong with it.

Carter is making the choice that is best for him, as he should. Other players in this position would choose a different option. Veteran players have the power to do what they want. Carter gets that. Some fans may not.

Vince Carter: ’90-something percent’ certain he’ll retire after this season

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As last season ended, Vince Carter said he wanted to play probably one – but maybe two – more seasons.

After signing with the Hawks, 41-year-old Carter seems to be zeroing in on one.

Ian Begley of ESPN:

Carter added that he’s ’90-something percent’ sure that he will retire after the 2018-19 season.

He said he decided to join the Hawks for ‘an opportunity’ to play and also to pursue his post-retirement plans.

Carter said he plans to pursue a broadcasting career after he retires.

Carter has had a great career. He’s the best dunker in NBA history, and his longevity after stardom is unprecedented.

NBA TV is based in Atlanta, and I wouldn’t be surprised if transitions during the season into a role with the network.

This all but makes extinct hope of him playing again for the Raptors, but those reunions rarely meet expectations. Carter has already accomplished so much. If he’s ready to walk away, he shouldn’t chase storylines like that.

After next season, it’ll probably be time for him tell the stories rather than make them.

Trainer: Markelle Fultz will be All-Star next season if 100 percent

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Those rumors about trainer Drew Hanlen fixing Markelle Fultz‘s jumper?

Hanlen sure isn’t downplaying them.

Fox Sports 1:

Hanlen:

I literally think that, if he’s back to 100 percent, I think he’s immediately an All-Star. I know that’s a bold statement, but I work with a lot of other All-Stars. So, I think I have the right to say that.

Fultz won’t technically be a rookie next season, but he’s pretty close to warranting that status. No active player has made the All-Star game in his first NBA season. Only Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, Kyrie Irving, Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Vince Carter did it in their second.

This is an extremely high bar for Fultz to clear.

Hanlen has a business to run, and provocative quotes like this generate publicity. But I’m not sure it’s good for Fultz, and I mean that with all sincerity. There isn’t much history for a player so dependent on his jumper to, as Hanlen himself described it, get the yips.

76ers teammate J.J. Redick tried to shield Fultz. Hanlen went the opposite way by raising expectations. To his credit, Fultz spoke candidly  about about his struggles early in the season (though I talked to him before the scope of the problem might have set in).

I really don’t know the right approach for him.

No matter what’s said now, Fultz will have to make jumpers with millions watching during games if he’s ever going to fulfill his potential. He could do that next season. I hope he does.

But I’m not sure even a confident and healthy Fultz is an All-Star yet, and it’d be a shame if tremendous progress is deemed not good enough because we expected too much.

Report: Vince Carter signing with Hawks for first minimum contract of 21-year career

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Vince Carter has played 20 seasons in the NBA. He has received more than a minimum salary in all of them. As of a few years ago, the idea of accepting the minimum seemed to offend his sensibilities. He earned $8 million from the Kings last summer.

But Carter has finally declined to a point he’ll take the minimum.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The 41-year-old Carter remaining in the NBA, at any salary, is a huge accomplishment. He got drafted before new teammate Trae Young was even born.

If he sees the court this season, Carter (and likely Dirk Nowitzki) will join Kevin Garnett, Robert Parish and Kevin Willis with the most seasons played all-time, 21. If he plays on or after his Jan. 26 birthday, Carter will become the first 42-year-old in NBA action since Dikembe Mutombo in 2009.

Carter keeps himself in great shape,* which should set a good example for his younger teammates on the rebuilding Hawks. He can still play a little, but on a tanking team, that’s significant mostly for his ability to build credibility as a mentor. Unlike many former stars who talk about teaching the next generation but don’t actually have the patience and desire, Carter has already done it.

*Declining from such a high athletic peak doesn’t hurt, either.

This is a sound signing by Atlanta.

For Carter, it’s a testament to his longevity – even if he had to compromise on salary.