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Mario Chalmers Can 'Hold His Head High' Following Trade from Miami Heat

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistNovember 11, 2015

Miami Heat guards Mario Chalmers (15) and Dwyane Wade (3) are shown during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics, Monday, March 9, 2015, in Miami. The Celtics defeated the Heat 100-90. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee),
Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

MIAMIMario Chalmers' exit from the Miami Heat felt nearly as long as his seven-plus-year tenure with the team, but both came to a close on Tuesday.

Miami sent Chalmers and second-year swingman James Ennis to the Memphis Grizzlies for veteran point guard Beno Udrih and sophomore forward Jarnell Stokes.

Chalmers took to social media to express his gratitude for the time he spent with the Heat organization.

Mario Chalmers @mchalmers15

It has been a tremendous honor and privilege to be a part of the Miami Heat championship family for more than ... https://t.co/HvhnWKjrQN

Here is the full text of that post:

It has been a tremendous honor and privilege to be a part of the Miami Heat championship family for more than 7 seasons. It is with great sadness and excitement that I end one amazing chapter on my NBA career to graciously begin another with the Memphis Grizzlies. Sending thanks to Micky Arison, Pat Riley, Coach Erik Spoelstra, my teammates and the Miami Heat fans, some of the best in the world! I look forward to starting a new chapter with the Memphis Grizzlies.

Miami billed it as a business decision, which it is. The deal opened minutes for young guards Tyler Johnson and Josh Richardson, plus added a pair of potential contributors, but most importantly, it helped improve the bottom line.

Namely, it trimmed $6 million off the Heat's luxury-tax bill, per Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel.

Heat president Pat Riley, making a rare appearance in the media room following Miami's 101-88 win over the Los Angeles Lakers, cited the "economics of the game" as one of several factors for pulling off the trade, Winderman reported.

But the organization knows that Chalmers was more than a burdensome salary. He was, up to this point, a Heat lifer. The 34th pick in 2008, he started 383 regular-season games for Miami and all 46 of its postseason contests during title runs in 2012 and 2013.

That history made it impossible for the club to focus solely on the business side of the transaction.

"You develop relationships in the business. You form bonds when you go through long NBA seasons," head coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We're excited about the trade...that doesn't mean that it makes it easy to make these kind of deals."

Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

Chalmers' legacy is complicated. He invigorated the fanbase with clutch baskets and infuriated it with head-scratching decisions.

But he's forever a part of the franchise's history.

"Rio can hold his head high, leaving on a great note here," Spoelstra said. "He'll always be remembered as a two-time champion point guard here in Miami. That's pretty cool."

Inside the locker room, a prevailing sentiment emerged among Chalmers' longtime teammates: This isn't the end of anything.

"He will always be a brother," said Chris Bosh, who shared both title runs with Chalmers. "We're always going to hang out and always talk."

Dwyane Wade, who was already entrenched as a team leader when Chalmers arrived, said "it sucks" to see him go, but this won't break the ties between them.

"We have a relationship with him that goes beyond this game," Wade said. "So, I don't think nobody will be mad, because when Mario comes here, we're going to hug him."

No hard feelings. It's a business, after all.

But it's a living, breathing business that includes all the emotions of family life, as Wade indicated when he took to Instagram to publicly share his farewell:

"We're going to miss Mario," Riley said. "We love the guy."

Chalmers won't be gone forever, though. He'll return at some point—the Grizzlies are slated to hit South Beach on Dec. 13. Whenever he makes it back down to South Florida, his old teammates will be waiting for him with open arms.

Because that's what brothers do.

All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise cited.

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