Haslem returning to Heat for 17th NBA season

Miami Heat forward Udonis Haslem. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

Haslem, who was considering retirement, announced Tuesday that he is returning for a 17th season. The 39-year-old has spent his entire NBA career with the Heat, and should become just the sixth player in league history to play such a long career with only one franchise.

It’s a veteran’s minimum contract, worth just under $2.6 million this season. Haslem made the announcement on Instagram, saying “to be continued.”

“We are proud to welcome our captain back for a 17th season,” Heat President Pat Riley said. “UD is the heart and soul of Miami and we are proud to have him help lead this team once again.”

Haslem has appeared in only 40 games over the past three seasons, and averaged 2.5 points in 10 appearances last season. But the Heat continue to rave about his commitment to the franchise’s culture and value his leadership in the locker room — insisting that he is worth a roster spot for those qualities alone.

Haslem’s longevity is rare — and playing this long for one team is unprecedented for an undrafted player. Dirk Nowitzki spent all 21 of his seasons with Dallas. Kobe Bryant played all 20 of his seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, Tim Duncan had a 19-year run with San Antonio, John Stockton played 19 seasons for Utah and Reggie Miller spent 18 seasons with Indiana.

They were all first-round picks. Haslem went undrafted in 2002 out of the University of Florida, spent a year in France and then got his hometown team to sign him in 2003. The Miami native has been there ever since.