The 10-game suspension for Heat guard Dion Waiters has officially come to an end, with the final game of his punishment coming on Friday in a 122-105 home win against the Warriors.
Waiters, who’s in his fourth season with the Heat organization, was suspended by the team earlier this month after consuming an edible laced with THC and suffering a panic attack on a team flight, according to an report from ESPN.com.
Heat president Pat Riley never confirmed the specifics of the reported situation, with this being Waiters’ second suspension of the young season (he also received a one-game suspension in October after getting into a verbal exchange with coach Erik Spoelstra).
“His conditioning is at least at a level where we can work with him and get him to the next step,” Spoelstra said of Waiters, as relayed by Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel (Twitter links). “And we just want to put this all behind us, get him with the team and move on from here.
“We’ve had enough time around each other, we understand that a lot of things happen over the course of an NBA season. What we discussed in the sanctuary of our locker room, I just want to keep between us. But we want to move on from this.”
Waiters, 27, originally signed a deal with Miami in July of 2016. He quickly impressed the franchise with averages of 15.8 points and 3.8 assists per game, leading him to sign a four-year, $52MM contract in the summer of 2017.
Various injuries have kept the Syracuse product from playing more than 50 games in his three seasons with the organization. He has yet to appear in a contest with the team during the 2019/20 campaign.
“I would like to apologize to my teammates, coaches, basketball staff, the fans and the entire organization for the incident that happened on the team plane,” Waiters said in a statement released Saturday. “I was wrong and take responsibility for what happened and am sorry for what it put everyone through. I am happy to be back with my teammates and am looking forward to getting back on the court playing basketball.”
The Heat have upcoming road games against Brooklyn on Sunday, Toronto on Tuesday and Boston on Wednesday, followed by a four-game homestand that takes the team into mid-December. Waiters is under contract for this season ($12.1MM) and next season ($12.65MM), with the veteran guard set to reach free agency in the summer of 2021.
Miami has opened the 2019/20 season with a red-hot 13-5 start. The Heat have been led by a combination of young talent, veteran play and strong camaraderie, leading some to wonder how Spoelstra can incorporate Waiters into a crowded rotation that already consists of established guards such as Justise Winslow, Goran Dragic, Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Herro.