fauowls44 Posted July 13, 2005 Share Posted July 13, 2005 Haslem agrees to pact Power forward Udonis Haslem came to terms on a five-year contract for the maximum the Heat could pay him -- close to $34 million -- to stay in Miami. BY ISRAEL GUTIERREZ [email protected] The Heat gave Udonis Haslem his first chance, so Haslem wanted to give the Heat a legitimate chance at keeping him -- even if it meant giving up a few million dollars. When Haslem agreed to a contract with the Heat late Tuesday, he effectively did just that, passing up the opportunity to seek more money elsewhere to guarantee that he remains with the organization that believed in him. Haslem and the Heat agreed to a five-year contract for the maximum amount the Heat can offer, which is expected to be almost $34 million. The actual amount depends on what the league announces as the average salary later this week. Haslem, who attended Miami High and played four years at the University of Florida, can't officially sign a deal until July 22, when it is expected that the new collective bargaining agreement will officially be in place. The Cleveland Cavaliers reportedly had been willing to offer Haslem a deal worth up to $10 million more than the Heat's offer, but Haslem was satisfied with the way the Heat handled the negotiations. The Heat met with Haslem's agent, Jason Levien, at midnight July 1, the earliest teams were allowed to meet with free agents. On that same late night, the Heat offered Haslem the maximum it could extend, which Haslem took as a clear sign the organization valued him. Haslem has said often that he preferred to stay in Miami, and he has built strong relationships with Shaquille O'Neal and Dwyane Wade that only solidified a bond with his hometown team. ''This is where Udonis wanted to be all along,'' Levien said late Tuesday. ``This is where his heart is.'' To make up for the money he could have been passing on elsewhere, the Heat could provide Haslem with other enticements, including possibly giving him a significant portion of his annual salary up front. It was a little more than two years ago that Haslem was playing in France after going undrafted in the NBA. After stints in summer leagues with the Hawks, Spurs and Heat, it was Miami that offered Haslem a contract, and he was so impressive early on that he cracked the opening day starting lineup as a rookie, effectively taking the spot of the injured Caron Butler. His rookie season, Haslem averaged 7.3 points and 6.3 rebounds in 75 games before being named to the NBA All-Rookie second team. This past season, Haslem started all 80 games he played, averaging 10.9 points and 9.1 rebounds and finishing fourth in the NBA in field-goal shooting percentage (.540). With Haslem now in place, and O'Neal's deal expected to be agreed on this week, the Heat can focus its attention on its point guard situation. Damon Jones and Keyon Dooling are both possibilities to return, but the Heat would like to get its hands on Earl Watson at the right price. That process might linger as the market begins to dictate the going price on the available point guards. The Heat still has its midlevel salary-cap exception to use on free agents. The Heat would also like to bolster its frontcourt, but ideally with minimum-salary players. Great news! Now let's get Shaq done and then begin adding free agents. The Heat's power rotation is looking good with Shaq, Zo, Udonis, Simien, and possibly Doleac (although he could be traded in a sign-and-trade). Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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