MIAMI — Udonis Haslem announced Friday that he’s returning for an 18th season with the Miami Heat, and left the door open for extending his career after that.

Only five NBA players have spent a career of that length with one franchise. Dirk Nowitzki spent 21 years with Dallas, Kobe Bryant 20 years with the Los Angeles Lakers, Tim Duncan spent 19 with San Antonio, John Stockton spent 19 with Utah and Reggie Miller spent 18 with Indiana.

FILE – In this April 12, 2017, file photo, Miami Heat forward Udonis Haslem prepares to take a shot during the final seconds of an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards, in Miami. Haslem’s name was never called on draft night in 2003. Most of the players picked that year are long gone: only eight of the 58 selections played in the NBA this past season. Haslem is still around, though, and his story serves as a reminder: Getting taken in the draft doesn’t guarantee much. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

Haslem doesn’t play regularly and hasn’t for years: He got into just four games last season and has scored 76 points in the last four seasons combined. His impact on the team comes from what he says and does in the locker room, and that’s why Heat coach Erik Spoelstra lobbied for Haslem to come back.

“He’s just an incredible rock of stability and leadership and mentorship,” Spoelstra said during the NBA Finals last month. “That’s at all levels. It’s not just to our young players. It’s to our veteran players. And he provides just great guidance and mentorship to this head coach as well. I love him.”

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA – SEPTEMBER 06: Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat during the first quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2020 NBA Playoffs at AdventHealth Arena at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on September 06, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

So will this be the end?

“Spo told me don’t answer that question,” Haslem said Friday. “Spo said we’ll continue to talk about it.”

By NBA rule, the Heat cannot negotiate with Haslem until Nov. 20 and the earliest he can sign his new contract — his ninth with the Heat — is Nov. 22. It’ll be a one-year deal worth $2,564,753.

Haslem’s next appearance for the Heat will make him the oldest player in franchise history. His final appearance this past season was Aug. 14, at 40 years and 66 days old. That’s three days younger than Juwan Howard was when he played his final Heat game on April 17, 2013.

Haslem was one of three 40-somethings to play in the NBA last season: Vince Carter was 43 when he retired after the season and Jamal Crawford, 40, appeared in one game with the Brooklyn Nets during the NBA restart at Walt Disney World.


Crawford is about 2 1/2 months older than Haslem and is unsigned for next season.

Haslem is Miami’s all-time leading rebounder, ranks second behind only Dwyane Wade in games and minutes played, and is No. 7 on the Heat career scoring list.

Courtesy: ESPN


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