The Miami Heat currently have their full 14 roster spots filled out as they just re-signed Haywood Highsmith to a two-year, $11 million contract that was made official Monday. Highsmith spoke to the media Monday to talk about coming back to the Heat and his free agency journey leading up to the new contract.

Highsmith became an unrestricted free agent on July 1 after his three-year, close to $4 million contract ended, but since he has developed in Miami's system in a trusted role player, his stock would surely rise and gain interest from other teams. That is what exactly happened as apparently other teams were heavily recruiting Highsmith, but he ultimately stuck with the Heat saying that it was a “roller coaster” of a free agency period since it was truly his first time.

“It’s been an up-and-down roller coaster,” Highsmith said. “But I think the contract I got now with the Heat, I’m really satisfied with it. I think we still got more in the tank, for sure. So I’m just going to keep pushing. It’s been a bit of a journey, a bit of a process. I’m glad to be back.”

“It’s been a process,” Haywood continued. “This is my first time being a real free agent, so we just took it day by day. There were multiple calls, multiple meetings, talking about different things. It’s been a process. It’s new rules with the CBA. So a lot of things are going on. It’s just been a process, an up and down roller-coaster. But the contract I’ve got now with the Heat, I’m satisfied with it.”

Highsmith talks how the Heat “invested” in him

Miami Heat forward Haywood Highsmith (24) looks on before the game between the Washington Wizards and the Miami Heat at Capital One Arena.
Reggie Hildred-USA TODAY Sports

Highsmith has been another undrafted player that the Heat acquired and turned into a standout as he has been a crucial part to the team's rotation. His journey has no doubt been long coming from Wheeling University, a Division II school, and bouncing around several teams before Miami can get their hands on him. There has always been an appreciation from the 27-year old to the Heat in those regards.

“The Heat have just invested in me and I appreciate them,” Highsmith said. “They took a chance on a Division II kid and I couldn’t be more grateful.”

Besides becoming an integral player for Miami on the defensive side of the ball being a stalwart, he has also improved his offensive game, especially from the three-point line where he shot 39.6 percent from that range. Still, Highsmith knows the role he needs to play which is being a “tough guy.”

“I’m going to be myself. I’m not going to try to fill nobody’s shoes,” Highsmith said. “I know the type of player I am in this league. I’m a defender, tough guy, can make open shots, make threes and I’m a good shooter and I’m going to play the right way, play hard and do whatever it takes to win.”

Highsmith talks about Caleb Martin going elsewhere in free agency

This was a crucial signing for the Heat as they had an important player in Caleb Martin leave through free agency as he signed with an Eastern Conference rival in the Philadelphia 76ers. If they were to also lose Highsmith, Miami's top five defense from last season could have taken a huge hit with two productive wings on that side of the floor absent.

“I think me and Caleb [Martin] are pretty much the same type of player — bring energy, play defense, play off the stars,” Highsmith said. “I can’t do everything Caleb does. I’m myself at the end of the day. I definitely can bring some of the things Caleb brought, but also bring some more stuff that I do, as well. I’ll be myself.”

Highsmith talks about his “long journey” with the Heat

There has always been mutual interest for Highsmith coming back to the Heat where as said before, he has reached the peak of his NBA career with the team. Especially since besides going to a Division II school, he played a while in the G League and even in Germany.

“It has been a long journey to get here,” Highsmith said after the last season ended at the hands of the Boston Celtics in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.. “If you know anything about my story, you know I went to a smaller school, burst onto the scene with the NBA G League team with the Sixers, played overseas, came back and found my way to this organization.”

“They gave me an opportunity,” Highsmith continued. “I’ve been here for about three years, two and a half, three years. So just very grateful for this organization for bringing me in, just putting me through that developmental system. It shows that they really helped me as far as my game, getting better, putting me in the right situations and understanding how I’m going to be a player in this league to come.”

Highsmith speaks on how the Heat are a “family”

Highsmith is looking to take another step next season as besides being one of the better perimeter defenders, he could possibly take another leap in his offensive game. The contract is no doubt a symbol of trust that they believe he can even be better in the role he is now than ever before as the star calls the Heat a “family.”

“Being here now for a couple of years now, I definitely would say that it feels like family here,” Highsmith said. “It definitely feels like family. It’s all about winning, figuring out ways to win a championship, figuring out ways to compete for a championship. They’re not about tanking or load management, none of that stuff. They’re all about winning and I respect that as a competitor myself.”

“Also, sometimes it’s tough love here,” Highsmith continued. “They’re going to tell you how it is. They’re not going to sugarcoat it. For somebody like me, I need somebody that, somebody’s not going to baby me or tell me what I want to hear. Tell me the right thing that I need to hear and tell me if I’m not playing hard enough, tell me if I’m not doing this and just look me in my eyes, man to man. I love it here. It definitely matches me, who I am, and how I got here.”

At any rate, the Heat have their full roster with 14 spots filled at the current moment where it seems inevitable that they will run back the same team aside from Martin. There is still a whole summer left, so it remains to be seen if they trade for a star especially with their financial limitations as they are looking to improve after a second straight season finishing at the eighth seed.