Weighing the Pros and Cons for Trading Miami Heat's Udonis Haslem
His role has declined significantly from a year ago. And in the little minutes per game he's now given, Haslem hasn't been too effective, either.
So is it time for the Heat to start considering trading Haslem, who's been with the team since 2003?
Let's look at reasons why the Heat should or should not ship Haslem out of town. Then we'll issue a final verdict on what they should do with the two-time NBA champion.
Reason to Trade: Declining Jump Shot
Throughout his career, Udonis Haslem’s jump shot has been an asset. As recently as the 2010-11 season, he shot 53.8 percent from 10-to-15 feet and 48 percent from 16-to-23 feet.
But since then, his accuracy has declined. Last year, he shot only 25.9 percent from 10-to-15 feet and 39 percent from 16-to-23 feet.
While there was hope that last year was simply an outlier, the results haven't been pretty this season (although it is a very small sample size). Haslem has only converted 2-of-13 attempts from 3-to-23 feet.
Reason to Trade: He Has More Value Elsewhere
While the team's contracts suggest that the Heat are a "three-man team", the talent on the roster surely proves otherwise. Thanks to the signings of Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, the Heat are deeper than they were last season. This has led to a huge decline in minutes per game for Haslem (24.8 in 2011-12 and 17.3 in 2012).
Lewis, in particular, is taking Haslem's minutes due to his ability to hit mid-range and long-range shots.
Haslem is still a talented and tough player. He would certainly attract interest from other teams that don't have nearly as much talent as the Heat have.
The Heat aren't maximizing Haslem's value. If another NBA team sees Haslem as someone who can play 25-to-30 minutes a game, Miami should be able to receive a nice asset in return.
Reason Not to Trade: Cons: He's a Great Rebounder
Simply put, Udonis Halsem is a very good rebounder and the Heat need as much rebounding as they can get.
The Heat find themselves 29th in the NBA in rebounds per game with only 38.6. And despite only 17.3 minutes per game, Halsem accounts for 4.7 of those. He ranks third on the team and is the most efficient rebounder among Miami's rotation players.
Trading Haslem would mean the Heat would have to rely even more on Rashard Lewis, who despite being 6'10" is a very poor rebounder. Per 48 minutes, Lewis averaged only 7.2 rebounds per game last season. To put that in perspective, Halsem posted 14.2 rebounds per 48 minutes in 2011-12.
The Heat have clearly proven the past two seasons and in the first 10 games of this season that they can win without rebounding well. But trading Haslem would make the Heat an even worse rebounding team, and that certainly could cost them some games.
Reasons Not to Trade: Leadership/Toughness
Much of what has endeared Udonis Haslem to Heat fans is his leadership and his matched-by-very-few toughness.
Both of those traits were on full display in Game 5 of the 2012 Eastern Conference semifinals. In the second quarter, Haslem pretended that he was trying to block Tyler Hansbrough's shot and instead struck him in the face as retaliation for Hansbrough hitting Dwyane Wade in the face in a similar situation a few plays earlier.
Haslem's toughness can be seen in situations like that, but also in every-game situations such as him holding his own while banging down low with someone bigger or taking a hard fall but getting right back up for the next play.
Haslem brings so much to the Heat from an emotional and team identity standpoint, which would be especially valuable in the playoffs, and that's really the only time that matters for Miami.
The Final Verdict
While there are legitimate reasons to trade Haslem, the Heat should hold on to the two-time NBA champion.
He is a great rebounder, which the Heat very much need, and while he's certainly overqualified for his role as a 20-minutes-per-game substitute, that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Also, Haslem and the Heat have a special relationship. He's spent his entire career in Miami. Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh all took less money in 2010 so Haslem, who also had a better financial offer from the Dallas Mavericks, could stay with the Heat. And this relationship doesn't stop with the players. Pat Riley attended his mother's wake.
Trading Haslem would have a huge negative emotional impact, and that clearly matters. Look what happened to the Boston Celtics in 2011 after they traded one of their tone-setters and emotional leaders in Kendrick Perkins (33-10 before trade and 23-16 after).
Haslem hasn't played great so far. However, there's too much risk, from a pure basketball standpoint and an emotional one to trade him.