Udonis Haslem was ejected three minutes into his season debut following a confrontation Dwight Howard. Despite mostly playing a mentorship role, the Miami Heat would like Haslem to return as a player next season.
"A little bit," Spoelstra said, when asked if he has lobbied for Haslem to come back next season. "It's not like I've been openly recruiting him, but I just continue to tell him, like, 'We don't have to make any kind of decision now. Let's kick this down the road.' Everybody knows in this building, but most importantly in that locker room, the level of impact that he has. That's developing leaders in that locker room, and helping teach and cultivate a culture that means something to us. It's not him just barking that out; it's rolling up his sleeves and developing the next wave of leaders in the Heat culture, and I just think that's been amazing.
"There's been so many amazing chapters in his career, and I've just enjoyed watching him evolve to this kind of mentorship. It's felt by the young players, for sure. The young players are going to remember UD for the rest of their entire careers, but the veteran players, to me, he's had just as much of an impact, developing them, keeping them stable, keeping them growing, and continuing to evolve, and that's from his really incredible guidance that he can reach anybody in that locker room, and the staff.
"He's constantly a mentor to me and the rest of the coaching staff. I don't want to think about the next phase, and I don't think we need to now. We've got enough on our plate. I know that's all UD is thinking about, too."
Haslem recently told reporters he's unsure if he will return next season.
"I haven't thought about it," Haslem said. "But I'm sure [Heat coach Erik Spoelstra] and our guys keep those things close to hand and understand the importance of that. But for me, if we don't win the Detroit [regular-season finale] and I got in, it really wouldn't matter. My thing is, let's win out this season, let's get this best playoff spot we can possibly get and let's go in here and try to get it done."