Mario Chalmers: 'I Never Thought Anyone Would Want to Leave Miami for Cleveland'

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistJuly 19, 2014

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 18:  LeBron James #6 gives teammate Mario Chalmers #15 of the Miami Heat a five in the first half against the San Antonio Spurs during Game Six of the 2013 NBA Finals at AmericanAirlines Arena on June 18, 2013 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

While former Miami Heat teammates Mike Miller and James Jones have followed LeBron James to the Cleveland Cavaliers, there's one member of the four-time defending Eastern Conference champions who's pleased to be returning to South Beach. 

At least as far as geography is concerned. 

According to the South Florida Sun Sentinel's Shandel Richardson, point guard Mario Chalmers was a little surprised James chose to depart Miami for Cleveland: 

However, just because Chalmers found James' decision a bit puzzling doesn't mean the two don't still share a great rapport. 

Per Richardson:

Chalmers added the following when speaking to reporters at his Boys and Girls Club basketball camp in Miami, according to's Alexandra Fruin: "You gotta do what's best for your family. I'm not mad at him at all. You gotta do what's right for them and what you feel is right in your heart."

And as James noted in his first-person announcement (as told to Sports Illustrated's Lee Jenkins), he cherished the prosperous time spent with Chalmers, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, among others: 

I went to Miami because of D-Wade and CB. We made sacrifices to keep UD. I loved becoming a big bro to Rio. I believed we could do something magical if we came together. And that’s exactly what we did! The hardest thing to leave is what I built with those guys.

Of course, after James flipped the NBA landscape on its side by announcing his intention to return to the franchise that drafted him, the Heat were forced to try and fill the massive void he left behind. 

One way to maintain some of the continuity Erik Spoelstra's club had established over the past four years was to try and keep the rest of the franchise's notable free agents draped in red, black and white. 

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 12:  Mario Chalmers #15 of the Miami Heat drives to the basket against Tiago Splitter #22 of the San Antonio Spurs during Game Four of the 2014 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 12, 2014 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User e
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As a result, Chalmers and the Heat agreed to terms on a two-year deal that will pay him $4 million this season and $4.3 million next season, according to ESPN's Brian Windhorst

Now, Chalmers is primed to rejoin a Heat roster that's undergone some notable personnel changes sans James. 

Although Pat Riley found ways to bring incumbent talents like Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Udonis Haslem and Chris Andersen back into the fold, the team's core next season will also include veterans Luol Deng, Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger. 

Coming off of a season that saw Chalmers average 9.8 points and 4.9 assists while shooting a career-best 45.4 percent from the floor, Miami's floor general figures to assume a slightly more prominent role in the offense now that some ball-handling duties have opened up.