Former Florida Gators power forward Udonis Haslem has decided to turn down substantially larger offers from competing teams in order to remain with the Miami Heat, agreeing to a five-year, $20 million deal on Monday.
“I would be changing my DNA if I left just for money,” he told the Associated Press.
After signing guard Dwyane Wade to a six-year, $107 million contract and forwards LeBron James and Chris Bosh to identical six-year, $110 million deals, Miami immediately concentrated on bringing two former Florida players under contract.
First, the Heat reached an agreement on a five-year, $30 million deal with guard/forward Mike Miller after trading former No. 2 overall pick PF Michael Beasley for cap space and a second round pick. With each of the “big three” sacrificing $15 million over the life of their deals, Miami made a move to bring back Haslem, Wade’s best friend on the team since the superstar was drafted in 2003.
Haslem drew serious interest from at least three other teams who put tempting offers on the table. The Denver Nuggets and Dallas Mavericks each reportedly offered him a five-year, $34 million mid-level exception contract over the weekend, and the New Jersey Nets offered three years and $20 million last week.
“[I] turned down full mid level [exceptions] from Dallas and Denver. See [yo]u next season,” Haslem said in an e-mail to the paper.
Spending almost his entire life playing basketball in the state of Florida (spent one season in France), he decided to turn down higher contracts in order to play with his friend and be a part of what could be a very special team.
Think Haslem is happy to play with Miller again?
“That’s my boy from day one,” he told the Sun-Sentinel. “That’s my college roommate. He’s like Dwyane is to me, just a different color.”
A seven-year NBA veteran, Haslem earned $7.1 million with the Heat last season. He has averaged 10.0 points and 8.1 rebounds throughout his career.
Photo Credit: Gary Dineen/Getty Images