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Udonis Haslem
Udonis Haslem
Photo by George Martinez

Udonis Haslem Should Have a Spot on the Heat Roster as Long as He Wants It

The last time there was a Miami Heat roster that did not include Udonis Haslem was 2002. According to various reports, 2018 will not be the year that impressive streak is broken. All signs point to the Heat and Haslem settling on a deal that will keep the Heat's longest-tenured player in uniform for at least one more season. Haslem has made it clear — by posting workouts to social media and in interviews — that he has no intention of hanging up his sneakers in favor of a suit and the front-office job that awaits him with the Heat.

Haslem believes he has some gas left in the tank and wants to give it a go for the only franchise he's ever known. So who in hell is the Heat to tell him he doesn't have anything left? Haslem has earned a Miami roster spot for as long as he wants it. One more year. Three more years. Hell, 20 more years. It's his.

Anyone who believes otherwise should consider what an alternative 15th man off the bench brings to the table and compare it to the huge impact that having Haslem in each and every huddle and personally involved in every practice means to the team. It can't be overstated. It's a massive edge over most other teams.

Haslem could be an assistant coach or take on a role similar to one that Alonzo Mourning has undertaken since his retirement. But Haslem's impact on current players would instantly diminish. Riding a bus or plane with players and working out with them every day forges a relationship different from the one that players get with coaches or front-office members huddled in the back with notes. The Heat should let Haslem continue suiting up until he decides it's no longer a thing he wants to do. Period. Stop overthinking it.

Guys like Eddy Curry and Wang Zhizhi typically fill the 15th seat on an NBA bench. Haslem could go this entire season without stepping foot on the court even once yet still contribute more than any player the Heat would put in his place if he decided to retire.

As Pat Riley likes to phrase it: Haslem is a "forever man." As long as UD wants to play basketball, there should be a roster spot with his name on it. 

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