While there are other big storylines happening around the Miami Heat organization like the situation regarding Jimmy Butler or if they will be involved in a Donovan Mitchell trade, there are also players like star Haywood Highsmith that might not return. Highsmith did an interview with Michael Scotto of HoopsHype where he spoke about himself becoming an unrestricted free agent as he said that he would want to stay with the Heat since “my daughter lives out here as well.”

“I’d love to stay in Miami for sure. I feel like I’ve built a great life out here,” Highsmith said. “My daughter lives out here as well. If all things are close, I definitely would love to stay in Miami, but we’ll see when that time comes. I’ll still be the same person no matter how much I get paid or whatever happens. I’ll still be in the gym locked in and trying to win a championship.”

Highsmith on entering the offseason being a free agent

Miami Heat forward Haywood Highsmith (24) drives to the basket as Boston Celtics forward Sam Hauser (30) defends in the first half during game three of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Kaseya Center.
Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

Looking at the various contract situations on Miami, it seems like a decision could come down to keeping either Highsmith or another star in Caleb Martin. However, Martin is expected to be more expensive since he has been a major standout on the offensive side of the ball while Highsmith's talents are more on the defensive side, though he has underrated abilities offensively.

“Humbly, I’m grateful to be in a position like this. It doesn’t matter how much I make if it’s $10 or $15 million per year,” Highsmith said. “I’ll push myself to be the hardest worker on the team, continue to get better, be a contributor by guarding the best player, knock down shots, do what it takes to win, stay in my role, and help win championships. I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing, and nothing’s going to change as far as whatever I get paid. I’ll still be a hard worker, get in the gym early, and put that extra work in to help the team win games and a championship.”

Highsmith talks about the Heat's “culture” 

While it wouldn't be a shock to see Highsmith back in a Miami uniform, there is an expectation that he does get a raise in the contract as he deserves since he's been a defensive stalwart for the team as there's no doubt he fits the “Heat Culture.” Speaking of which, Highsmith spoke to HoopsHype about the meaning of the phrase where he expressed that it's “real.”

“It’s been all about winning championships. That’s the top priority,” Highsmith said. “They’re a team that’s always going to try to compete for a championship each year. You never hear anything about them tanking or none of that stuff. It feels like a family there. They’re going to tell you how it is. They’re not going to sugarcoat it. It’s a place that’s not for everybody, for sure. A lot of people can’t stick out there if they go there because they’re not mentally and physically strong enough. They’re going to push you for sure because they’re trying to get the best out of you and win a championship. Heat culture is real. I’ve been blessed to be a part of that for the past three years.”

Highsmith reflects on the Heat's disappointing season

If there is one aspect that Highsmith has over other players in the NBA, it's that he has been a part of a very successful team. Being with the team since 2021, the Heat first made the Eastern Conference Finals where they were one shot away from advancing, then this past season they would make the NBA Finals. But there was disappointment this season as Miami were eliminated in the first round by the Boston Celtics.

“They’re all about winning championships,” Highsmith said. “This year, we didn’t reach our goal comparing this season to years before, where we’ve made deep playoff runs. Two years ago, we were a shot away from the NBA Finals. Last year, we were in the NBA Finals. Losing in the first round isn’t something I’m accustomed to since being here. It’s tough now to watch playoff basketball and be sitting at home because you want to be a part of high-end, intense basketball.”

“It was a rough season for us, it was a long season of ups and downs,” Highsmith continued. “It wasn’t our goal to be in the Play-In Tournament, make the playoffs, and lose in the first round. We’ll have to use that as fuel for the years to come and figure out how we can maximize more out of the regular season and take that to the playoffs.”

Highsmith on what he wanted to prove

Despite the disappointing result to the season as a whole, one of the bright spots was Highsmith in not just displaying his elite defensive ability, but also his improvement offensively. During the season, there was a ton of moments where Highsmith was efficiently shooting the ball from three-point range, an aspect that proved that he belongs in the NBA.

“I just wanted to prove that I’m a player who can play in this league for years to come. I’m an elite defender,” Highsmith said. “I work on my game a lot. You can see that I’ve put in a lot of work. My 3-point percentage went up, and I had career-highs in points per game and shooting percentage. I feel like with my role in this league, I can be an elite 3-and-D player. But I’m not just limiting myself to that. I can also get to the cup, a floater, and different types of finishes, working the baseline with cuts while playing off the ball.”

“Back to the 3-point shooting, I was at 40 percent,” Highsmith continued. “I proved I could defend and space the floor at a high level while playing off superstars like Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. I was trying to prove that I belong and can add value to teams in different ways with my defense, shooting, and whatever the team needs from me. I’m not a guy who’s going to put myself before the team. It’s all about winning.”

It remains to be seen what happens in the foreseeable future with Highsmith as Miami has a busy offseason ahead of them as they try to keep part of their foundation while also bolstering their roster. They are trying to improve after a 46-36 record where they finished eighth for the second straight season.