Birdman and Ray Allen likely to return to the Heat for next season

USA TODAY Sports

In comments made by several players and Heat president Pat Riley since Monday's victory parade, the biggest question marks for next year's roster appear to be locks to return.

It was right after Game 7 and the celebration of winning the third NBA championship had only just begun for the Miami Heat. But Udonis Haslem, the co-captain and longtime Heat fan himself before signing on with his favorite team ten years ago, had other things on his mind. Namely, to begin the recruiting pitch for Miami's top reserve to exercise his player option and return for another run at a title.

Haslem couldn't even wait for Allen to wash the Game 7 sweat and celebratory champagne off.

"Oh yeah," Haslem recounted on Tuesday afternoon, a day after the victory parade in downtown Miami. "I put the bug in his ear in the shower after the game. I told him, 'I'm not going to put no pressure on you. I'm not going to ask you what you're going to do. But just know, I'm thinking about what you're going to do.' And I just left it like that.'"

When asked how Ray responded to the interruption to his cleansing, Haslem smiled broadly.

"He didn't say nothing. I don't know if that's good or bad!"

Seating next to him in their final media interview of the 2012-13 season, Chris Bosh moments later gave his opinion on what Allen is going to do. Or maybe it's a fact.

"Oh yeah. We can make quotes all day but he's coming back," he said matter-of-factly. "There's really nothing else to think about."

Bosh then laughed, backtracking just a little. "I think. That's how I see it. We respect each other's space, but there's only one decision to make so it's easy."

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra may not think it will be that easy and is ready to get Allen to sign off on another season soon enough when the time is right.

"We'll take a couple weeks and we'll give Ray his space. We think the ultimate recruiting pitch is what we just did," he said. "But we won't take that for granted. There will certainly be communication between us and Ray. He was such an important piece of what we did. We think even if it was just that one shot, it was worth it but there were so many things that he provided, and he fit. His personality fit. His professionalism fit. He helped guys get better because you saw his work ethic."

While Allen himself hasn't given any indication to the media what he's planning on doing (he skipped the voluntary media session after Tuesday's exit interviews) the general feeling is that it would be a huge surprise if he opted out. Chris Andersen is a slightly different story since he's already given all indications he's ready to return.

Birdman told fans at the Championship Celebration inside AA Arena after the parade that he wanted to go for a "three-peat" and his agent confirmed that his client wants to return, according to Fox Sports Florida.

"He put it clearly,'' said Mark Bryant, who attended the rally for Miami's second straight title. "(The Heat) gave him an opportunity, and he absolutely wants to come back.''

Bryant anticipates beginning negotiations with the Heat about Andersen when free agency starts July 1. Bryant said it would be "totally unfair'' to speculate on how much money Andersen should command.

Spoelstra, for one, thinks the one they call the Birdman should return to his new nest in the fall.

"He loves it here. He's been embraced by the fans, by the team, by the organization. ... We wanted Chris for several years, he knows that. We tried to get him for the last four or five years and we were never able to do it. That's why we recruited him so hard this season.

"The most important part is both sides want each other. The other aspect will be on (assistant GM) Andy Elisburg's desk of being creative and making things happen.''

On Wednesday, Pat Riley also echoed his disciple.

"We love Chris Andersen and we want him back. Until July 1, we won't know but we would love to him back."

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