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UD Hungry for Season, Freedom

While much of the Heat's internal discussions this offseason have been focused on a (so far) failed effort to Haslem convince Dwyane Wade to sign a contract extension, the only other player on the roster who contributed to Miami's 2006 title run essentially has received the silent treatment.

Forward Udonis Haslem (pictured right) has been just as eligible for an extension entering the final season of his contract as Wade has been going into the last guaranteed year of his deal.

But that's where the similarities end in their respective predicaments. Whereas Wade finally went on the record in the Miami Herald last week to say he won't sign an extension and will wait until next summer to consider his options as a free agent, Haslem suggested Tuesday that he would have jumped at the opportunity to tack another season or two onto his contract with the Heat.

But there was only one problem. The offer never came. Not even minimal discussions about one. Heat president Pat Riley has long planned to maximize salary cap space for a potential blockbuster summer of free agency in 2010, so the relative silence with Haslem was expected.

That doesn't necessarily mean it was embraced.

But barring a change in the next two weeks, Haslem will enter the Sept. 28 start of training camp having survived another summer of trade speculation. He was linked to rumors (legitimate or otherwise) in which he may have been headed to Toronto as part of a package for Chris Bosh. Then, it was to Phoenix with accessories for Amare Stoudemire. After that, it was to Utah in exchange for disgruntled Carlos Boozer. And perhaps even to L.A. as a last-ditch effort to swing Lamar Odom.

It's a process Haslem has grown so accustomed to in his six seasons with the Heat that the South Florida native has even convinced himself that a change of scenery or a chance to expand his role elsewhere might not be the worst thing that could happen.

"With so much trade buzz going on about me, I've got to believe that other teams want me," Haslem said Monday during a promotional event to donate computers and supplies to a Miami Beach middle school. "So maybe I will look forward to the free agency market, too."

UD-Beasley While Haslem's value to the Heat and job security as the starting power forward has been deeply debated by fans, there seems to be a completely different perception of him among teammates and Heat executives. Riley and coach Erik Spoelstra have shown nothing but support and appreciation for the heart, hustle, leadership, dirty work and consistent approach that have defined Haslem (pictured left, with Michael Beasley in the background) over the years.

But this is a contract year, and Haslem would like nothing more than to emerge from the box in which he's been widely labeled as a consummate role player.

"I get put in a category, but I'm much more than a utility player," said Haslem, who has averaged 10 points and 8.1 rebounds over six seasons. "If I wanted to score 20, trust me, I could. I've settled for a lesser role to help my team win because I'm all about winning. Make no mistake about it. The thing that makes me special is that I can do other things without the ball. Whether other people respect that or not, that's a skill in this league. A lot of players, you take the ball out of their hands and they're non-existent."

Still, Haslem knows he has a hard time making his case. Especially being a player who brings a rugged Ford F-250 mentality to a position defined by sleek and slick Maybachs. As we continue our preseason position rankings, we place Haslem 9th overall among power forwards in the East based on factors that include statistical production, value, potential, impact and intangibles.

Here's the list: 1 - Kevin Garnett, Celtics. 2 - Chris Bosh, Raptors. 3 - Elton Brand, Sixers. 4 - Boris Diaw, UD-Varejao Bobcats. 5 - Troy Murphy, Pacers. 6 - Josh Smith, Hawks. 7 - Antawn Jamison, Wizards. 8 - Charlie Villanueva, Pistons. 9 - Udonis Haslem, Heat. 10 - Tyrus Thomas, Bulls. 11 - Yi JianLian, Nets. 12 - Anderson Varejao, Cavaliers. 13 - Brandon Bass, Magic. 14 - Jared Jeffries, Knicks. 15. Hakeem Warrick, Bucks.

Haslem (pictured right, against Varejao) has mastered the art of tuning out skeptics and critics, and he'll continue to forge ahead amid the beckons by some for Beasley/Bosh/Boozer to unseat him at power forward. Haslem would have welcomed some sort of extension offer from his hometown team. But he understands why it didn't happen, despite the fact he's one of only two power forwards in the East on the above list to help his team win a title. There are just too many unanswered questions with the Heat's roster to hitch longterm to anyone not named Dwyane.

Now, Haslem is ready to move ahead with his season and future - here or elsewhere. 

"Coach Riley has an obligation to do what's best for the team," said Haslem, who will earn about $7 million in the final year of his contract. "Obviously, if he's kept me here, then he feels this is the best situation. I love Miami. I love being here and I want to be here. This is an exciting year for everybody. I'll have the ability to see the free agent market. I'm looking forward to it as well."

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports. To post a question or join our live Heat chat each Thursday from 1-2 p.m., click here.)

Comments

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I love Haslem and I dont want to see him leave, I think he can be a vital part of Miami's sucess in the near future. With that being said, I think if he would embrace the 6th man role and provide the grit and hustle he always shows, then he can be part of another heat champioship when the pieces come. He is a true hometown hero and I would hate to see him leave.

there's no way Haslem isn't much better than Troy Murphy, Charlie Villenueva, or Boris Diaw. Haslem shuts ALL of them down when we play them. Clearly, you don't see the value in Haslem if you rank those above him.

On a stacked team, Haslem is a perfect first big off the bench and should always get big minutes.

mike, i love the blog, but those rankings are just terrible.

boris diaw? troy murphy? i would put those two somewhere between yakuba diawara and chris quinn

My rankings:

1 - Kevin Garnett, Celtics. 2 - Chris Bosh, Raptors. 3 - Elton Brand, Sixers. 4 - Antawn Jamison, Wizards. 5 - Josh Smith, Hawks. 6- Boris Diaw, Bobcats. 7- Anderson Varejao, Cavaliers. 8 - Troy Murphy, Pacers. 9 - Tyrus Thomas, Bulls. 10 - Charlie Villanueva, Pistons. 11 - Udonis Haslem, Heat. 12 - Yi JianLian, Nets. 13 - Brandon Bass, Magic. 14 - Jared Jeffries, Knicks. 15. Hakeem Warrick, Bucks.

Not carved in granite, but a quick read. I think you under-rated Varejao, for one, and over-rated Villanueva for another. Villanueva's got the frame, but not a ton of heart, it seems to me. Varajao outplays Haslem when the two teams meet, imo, and he is a good (though not great!) player. Josh Smith is flaky when the pressure's on, but his talent/athleticism has me putting him up there higher. I could possibly move haslem up a spot or two. Haslem at #9 isn't unreasonable, but it's on the high side of his range, I think. He's a terrific team player, but limited.

Frankly, I don't really know much about Troy Murphy, plus Brandon Bass and a few others at the bottom...

Hmmm, ya know, for all his size, I'd rather have Haslem on the Heat than Villanueva, so I want to bump Haslem up to #10 on my list above. (actually, maybe as high as 8, by that criteria)

"The thing that makes me special is that I can do other things without the ball. Whether other people respect that or not, that's a skill in this league. A lot of players, you take the ball out of their hands and they're non-existent."

WOW! Couldn't have said it better myself. That's what makes Mike's list skewed. Haslem is easily top 5.

Has Troy Murphy ever stopped anybody? Boris Diaw doesn't have the offensive skills of Haslem. Josh Smith is a meltdown waiting to happen, and did the Cavs respect his shooting ability, at all? Nope, but Smith kept firing up brick after brick (supercoolbeas?). Jamison's game a couple of years ago was stellar, not now.

Stop calling what Haslem does as 'dirty work'. It's his job to rebound/defend/screen. It's basketball and not everything is alley-oops or 6'9" guys dunking in the open court.

Hopefully we don't put all our eggs in Beasley's basket, and trade our heart to acquire another less-driven player.

uh....Michael Beasley is better than at least half those guys (including Haslem) but doesn't make the list because he didn't start?

dsky0921

Read Haslem's quote again. What does Beasley offer when he doesn't have the ball in his hands?

There is a reason 'god's son' doesn't start. He hasn't earned it! He doesn't have the heart or desire to bang in the post. Doesn't have the testicular fortitude, if you will. Do you think he would have held down Dirk Diggler during our Championship series? Hell, no! How many missed FG's per game does supercoolbeas average compared to Haslem? His chuck-the-ball-up-as-soon-as-I-get-a-chance mentality IS NOT HELPING the Heat. Get over him. He's probably just trade material at this point, and rightfully so. You decide Haslem = professional, Supercoolbeas = adolescent, he just can't see past his own overhyped image of himself.

You're just a Beasley hater man. Obviously Haslem is better defensively and Beasley could not have handled Dirk but I honestly believe Mike has potential on the defensive end too. He may never be as good as UD, but he could be a decent defender one day (he had some really nice blocks last year). As far as your assessment that you think Beasley apparently missed a lot of shots last year, you need to check your facts and your stats. Beasley shot 47% from the field (that's very good) and 40.7% from three. Those aren't stats of a guy that's missing a lot of bad shots. He'll get the team game, he just needs some more time. He is already way better than Haslem, and if you don't get that, then you don't understand the problem with scoring that this Heat squad has. He provides a lot that Haslem will never be able to provide. He's a much, much, much better scorer and already a better rebounder. He has a 7' wingspan that will be great when he finally starts getting the game. At such a cheap price (rookie contract) you have to hold on to that guy and try to make him work. In 10 less minutes per game, Beasley scored 4 more points and was only out-rebounded by Haslem by 3 boards. Give him more time in the game and he's grabbing more boards than Haslem and scoring at least 20. We need that kind of production. Haslem can produce the same defensive presence off the bench and in less minutes.

Udonis should be coming off the bench; and Beasley starting. Miami has held back Beasley. AND this Rehab stuff is being overblown; SAD to say more than 90% of the NBA is on weed and harder stuff; Beasley just got caught; Miami forcing Beasley to play Small Forward is Dumb; And will hurt his fragile head even more than it is already.

Boris Diaw doesn't have the offensive skills of Haslem? What??? Did anybody watch the Suns when Nash was MVP? Diaw was like a point forward for them - hitting jump shots, driving to the basket and making excellent passes - and he was a solid defender too. That is why the team is so much worse than it was after the Jason Richardson trade... they gave up their two best defenders in that deal, behind Marion, who was dealt for Shaq. Incredible.

THAT WEEK BEASLEY STARTED,WHAT DID HE AVERAGE ABOUT 10 REBOUNDS IN 1 HALF OF BALL.HE CAN CT THE BALL WHEN IS CONFIDENCE ISNT BEING SCREWED WITH BY SITTING THE PINE.

Frankly I don't care who is ahead or behind UD on the Heat or in the East, the minute he moves from the Heat, so does my support. I sometimes feel like Heat management doesn't care to bring us another championship, and after I witnessed a Marlins-like dismantling of the 2006 championship team with most of my favorites shipped out to all kinds of teams, then I stopped being interested in the Heat. I watch only to admire UD's hustle, so when that goes, I'm outta here. Thank God for UM football. Go CANES!!

I cant wait for this season to start. Can Wade build on his scoring title and continue to lead his young squad to greatness?

Can Beasley shake off all of the naysayers and become a consistently good player? He sure did show some flashes of it, especially late in the year.

Can ONeal mesh with the team and stay healthy?

Will Chalmers continue improving?

Will James Jones be able to put his injuries behind him and have a consistent season?

Theres no question when it comes to Haslem. Hes a rock.

Will Cook be 6th man of the year??


HEAT is coming up baby!!!


SOMEONE TELL ME WHO CAN SCORE 20, BUT CHOOSES NOT TO??...EXPECIALLY WHEN WE WERE LOOKING FOR A NUMBER TWO OPTION ALL LAST YEAR...PLEASE GET BEASELY IN OVER HASLEM...

He can and has scored over 20 points so stop hating.Haslem is the real leader of the team even though his stats don't say it.Dwyane Wade is considered the leader because he has better stats.A leader isn't always the guy who scores 30 ppg.

Haslem needs to come off the bench as a 6th man and let Beasley flourish at the PF position...I think this coaching staff is making a big mistake putting him at SF for significant minutes, I agree with pmartin, this can come back to haunt us. Beasley played around a half a game and scored almost 14 ppg and grabbed around 5.5 rebounds...if you add around 10 more minutes to that, he could've easily averaged 18 and 9...look what happened when he got the minutes in game 6 against the Hawks, he put up 22 points and 15 boards. I just hope this coaching staff realizes that they have a special player who cannot afford to play out of position, it will only ruin his confidence if it's not already. SPOELSTRA!!!! WAKE UP!!!!!!

If you seriously think that Beas is better than UD right now you are nuts! Those open 12 Ft jumpers UD shoots is because he moves without the ball and finds the open spot. D-Wade goes to where UD on the drive because he knows that pick will take his guy out! He's the real Definition OF a POWER FORWARD. BEAS is soft and is shoot first pass second

Any body that thinks Haslem is a starting calibre PF ahead of Beasley obviously doens't know basketball. The only team on which Haslem will start ahead of Beasley is the Heat! It's the equivalent of playing Varejao ahead of LeBron as a rookie because LeBron's defense is sketchy.

Haslem is an overglorified scrub. Beasley has actual NBA talent.

Haslem Stat Line

31 minutes 2pts 1-8 shooting 5 rebs 0 blks...-16 with him in the game
abused defensively all night

could we please get rid of him

Alston

28 minutes 5pts 1-8 shooting 4rebs 2 asts...-12 with him in the game...maybe we should try someone else at the point

and why the heck did spoelstra take oneal out for haslem when JO was scoring at will.
we cut the lead to 8 for goodness sake. I guess it doesnt havae anything to do with beasley, its just the love of haslem, and that love overules everything

Wallace wont say it so i will, Haslem sucks! Rafer Alston seems like a mistake, and Erik Spoelstra is probably the worst coach in the NBA

Wallace ur a joke, because you show favoritism towards some players. Start reporting the stories unbiased, or can we have another sports reporter please?...I'm not sure u even believe the crap your writing...I'm done

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