The emergence of Chris "Birdman" Andersen as a valuable bench player has been one of the biggest surprises on the Miami Heat this season. Originally signed to a 10-day contract in January, Andersen has averaged 5 points, 4 rebounds, and a block on 15 minutes of action per game.
Andersen's agent told Fox Sports on Wednesday that he would like to return to the team next season. His contract expires at the end of the NBA playoffs.
"We're certainly hopeful," agent Mark Bryant said. "But he's going to finish this task first [of trying to win a title with Miami]. But, absolutely, he has embraced [being with the Heat]."
Birdman has become a fan favorite for his colorful personality and energetic style of play. Fans at the AmericanAirlines Arena can be seen flapping their arms like a Bird - Andersen's on-court celebration of choice - after he makes a big play.
"He's a defender, he brings toughness, defends the rim, he rebounds and offensively he gives us an element of keeping teams honest when they put two on the ball," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told the AP last week. "He fits with us and we're certainly fortunately to have gotten him."
Andersen is earning the veteran minimum this season. After signing two straight 10-day contracts in midseason, the team extended him through the remainder of the season.
"I'm enjoying it, and being part of this team and this organization," Andersen said last week. "The guys in the locker room just made it so easy for me. To be a part of it is just special. I keep my attention in the moment."
Whether Andersen stays with the Heat could come down to money. Miami will most assuredly have a payroll above the luxury tax threshold next year, so the team will likely only be able to offer him the Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception, with a salary of $3.183 million.
If other teams offer more money, Andersen could bolt, especially if he wins a championship ring with the Heat this season.