After lashing out at coach Erik Spoelstra two weeks ago over a lack of playing time, Heat center Hassan Whiteside isn’t finding his situation any better in the playoffs, writes Manny Navarro of The Miami Herald. Whiteside was on the court for just 12:26 in the Game 1 loss at Philadelphia, even though the Sixers were missing injured center Joel Embiid. Whiteside played just four minutes in the second half and didn’t return after being replaced early in the third quarter.
“I think coach wanted some change,” said Whiteside, who was fined for his earlier comments. “[Kelly Olynyk] was playing well. Of course, I would love to be out there rebounding and blocking shots and be out there with my teammates. But I think K.O. was playing well, so coach just wanted to get him out there.”
Saturday’s benching may or may not be an indication that the Heat have moved on from Whiteside, but it continues a season-long trend in which his minutes per game have fallen to 25.3 after a career-high 32.6 last season. Olynyk, a free agent addition, and rookie Bam Adebayo have performed well at center and Whiteside has Miami’s most expensive contract. He is signed for more than $25.4MM next season with a player option worth $27MM for 2019/20.
There’s more this morning out of Miami:
- The Heat and Whiteside seemed to quit on each other last night, observes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Winderman states that the organization made an error in not assigning someone to help Whiteside stay focused after giving him a four-year, $98MM contract in 2016. He contends a “blueprint of motivation” should have been created for Whiteside, whether it was by Spoelstra, assistant coach Juwan Howard, team president Pat Riley or chief executive officer Nick Arison.
- Spoelstra should have given Rodney McGruder more than two minutes in Game 1, Winderman adds in the same story. McGruder missed most of this season after surgery in October for a left tibia stress fracture, but played a key role in last year’s stretch drive.
- The Heat will only have to part with a mid-level first-rounder this summer as part of the payment for Goran Dragic, Winderman writes in another piece. Miami finished with the 16th pick in this year’s draft, which Winderman notes often produces journeyman players. The Heat’s roster is already stocked with youth, so surrendering the pick shouldn’t do much to affect the future. The team still owes the Suns an unprotected first-round selection in 2021.