MIAMI – If Heat forward Udonis Haslem is the subject of trade speculation as Miami looks to land a much-needed upgrade at center, it's news to him.
“I haven't heard anything. Did I miss something?” Haslem said Thursday after a workout on the first day players were allowed in team facilities in the wake of the NBA's tentative lockout settlement. “Put me up on it. What's out there? Once they said the lockout was over I stopped watching TV.”
Haslem's name has been floated in trade scenarios at points throughout his eight-year NBA career with the Heat, but he also has been considered a cornerstone of the franchise during his time with his hometown team. The Heat are looking to add a center to address the biggest area of need after losing in six games to the Dallas Mavericks in the Finals last season.
Among the trade rumors making the rounds involves Haslem being packed with Mike Miller in a sign-and-trade deal with Denver to acquire free agent forward/center Nene. Ironically, Haslem turned down a more lucrative free agent contract offer from the Nuggets last season to re-sign with the Heat to play alongside LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.
Haslem said Henry Thomas, his Chicago-based agent, hasn't mentioned anything about trade possibilities or any desire from the Heat to deal him elsewhere.
Haslem also scoffed at that suggestion of going to Denver, and joked if he were headed to Denver he would have been much better off taking the Nuggets offer a year ago. Haslem turned down a full mid-level contract that would have paid him $34 million over five seasons to accept much less from Miami.
“If I was going to Denver, they should have let me go last year,” Haslem said, half-jokingly. “I could have got the extra $14 million. I would have just signed there last year, instead of sending me there now for $14 million less. I would (feel) cheated.”
Haslem was a starter on Miami's championship team in 2006 and has accepted a backup role each of the past two seasons, first behind since-departed No. 2 overall pick Michael Beasley in 2009-10 before taking a reserve role behind Bosh last season.
Haslem missed most of last season to recover from foot surgery and said Thursday that he should be completely healed and ready to practice without limitations when training camps open on Dec. 9. The Heat also spent much of the season without Miller, who also suffered several injuries and is now recovering from hernia surgery that will sideline him for four-to-eight weeks.
But Haslem said he hopes both he and Miller remain with the Heat and get a chance to show what their impact could be when healthy.
“The bottom line is I make this team better,” Haslem said. “It's up to the people upstairs to make those decisions. But the decisions that's being made, I can't control those. I can't control the rumblings. Rumors, you can't control. Trades, you can't control. All I can control is how hard I worked to come back from this injury.”
Haslem worked out for close to two hours on the court with Bosh and Heat free agent forward James Jones. Haslem said he expects James and Wade to join the workouts in the next few days. For now, Haslem is just happy to be able to be free of pain for the first time in 12 months.
“Sometimes, you just tend to take your health for granted,” Haslem said. “You expect to wake up and be pain free every day. But that's not your right, you know what I mean? I'm finally ready to go.”