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Heat Loyal to Haslem; Turn Down Turner

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Why the Heat decided to put basketball aside and reward one of the franchise's most important players.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

So last night, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald posted a late night "News and Notes" article, like he does every night.

These articles are usually filled with relatively interesting tidbits, but most of them are nothing more than that - tidbits.  Because of that, nobody seems to have caught on to what he posted last night, which I found to be pretty incredible. (LINK)

ESPN commentator and Herald contributor Dan Le Batard reported today that the Heat last week rejected Philadelphia’s trade offer of Evan Turner for Udonis Haslem because trading Haslem, who sacrificed more than $10 million to sign here, would not be sending the right message.

Read more here:

Hold the phone.

Evan Turner was just traded to the Indiana Pacers, along with Lavoy Allen, in exchange for Danny Granger just before the trade deadline.  If this is true (and I see no reason to believe that it isn't), the 76ers approached the Heat, offering Turner for nothing more than Udonis Haslem.

Turner was averaging 17 points and 6 rebounds per game this season as a member of the 76ers.  Haslem, meanwhile, has played in just 26 of 54 possible games this season, and is shooting just 39% from the field in just over 12 minutes per game.

In addition, Haslem has a player option for $4.62 million for next season that the Heat could have dumped in exchange for Turner's contract.

Basically, if you looked at this trade with no names attached, this was an obvious move for the Heat ... TAKE THE DEAL.

But that isn't the world we live in, and these guys do have names.  And Udonis Haslem is about as important a player as the Heat will ever have.  Haslem went undrafted after attending college at the University of Florida, and then signed with the Heat as a free agent.  That was 10 years ago.  Haslem has played in 695 games since then, and has represented the same team in each one.

Pts Reb Ast
2013 - Udonis Haslem 2.7 2.8 0.2

During the 2009-10 season, Haslem averaged 10 points and 8 rebounds per game in 28 minutes per game.  He was in line to finally get a sizable contract ... But instead of doing that, he agreed to take a pay cut so he could stay home and play with the Big 3.  Since Haslem made that decision, the Heat have made 3 finals and have won 2 of them, with Haslem as a contributing member of each one.  Honestly, who knows where we would be had he NOT made that decision?

So when it came time for the Heat to decide what to do with him, they decided to stay loyal to him, just like he did for them.  The smart basketball move was to trade for Evan Turner.  The Heat are 24 points per 100 possessions better with Haslem off the court this season, but who cares about that?  This wasn't about basketball, and frankly, that's awesome.  There's very rarely loyalty in sports.  The pressure to win, especially for a team who's won back to back titles and has the best player on the planet is incredibly high.  But the Heat decided to put that aside and reward one of the franchise's best players.  Haslem has made it clear that Miami is where he wants to be, and if this move is any indication, he will be here for a long time.  As it should be.

(Oh, and don't think this doesn't mean anything to the guys who may be free agents this summer.  Because I can assure you they're paying attention to this.  But let's talk about that another time.)