Udonis Haslem has been with the Miami Heat longer than anyone in the franchise history, playing 14 years with the franchise. While Dwyane Wade was at one time considered the face of the Heat, it is Haslem that remained loyal and stuck with Miami through good times and bad. Udonis has played in 15-win seasons and was there for three championships as well. After a season where the Heat finished with the biggest turnaround in NBA history, Haslem said that he really hopes that the Heat keeps their team together for the 2017-18 NBA season.

Keeping the "group" together

The big rumors with the Miami Heat involve possibly chasing a max-contract free agent.

Names like Gordon Hayward of the Utah Jazz have come up in rumors when it comes to the Heat looking for a superstar for instant help. Even someone like Carmelo Anthony has been mentioned in passing when it comes to getting help.

However, there are a pair of names in free agency that the Miami Heat might want to hold onto and that is where Udonis Haslem is likely looking when talking about keeping the group together. Those players are James Johnson and Dion Waiters. Waiters finished the season averaging 15.8 points and 30.1 minutes a game. Johnson averaged 12.8 points from the bench.

While Udonis Haslem is no longer a star for the Miami Heat, and only averaged 1.9 points over 16 games played in 2016-17, he is a team captain and is one of the most respected players within the entire Heat organization.

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Haslem, 37, is also a free agent, and while both sides expressed interest in him returning, that is not a sure thing.

At the moment, there are six potential free agents for the Miami Heat. There are also five players with guaranteed contracts.

The Heat keeping the momentum going

Bringing in a prized free agent like Gordon Hayward would help the team but the Miami Heat did a lot last season with their core talent base. After starting the season 11-30, the turned things around and finished with a .500 record and missed the playoffs by a tiebreaker. Head coach Erik Spoelstra is up for the NBA Coach of the Year award after his work in turning the Heat around.

While Udonis Haslem is a possible free agent and his return is not assured, he said that he is making sure the Miami Heat players are staying in shape, eating healthy, and doing what they need to do to remain ready to repeat their late-season success next year. Haslem is a mentor to the players almost more than he is an active player now and Miami might want to listen to what Udonis has to say.