Dion Waiters appears to have returned to the Heat in good standing after serving a 10-game suspension, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Waiters becomes eligible again in this afternoon’s game with the Nets, but coach Erik Spoelstra wouldn’t say when he expects to start using him again. Waiters hasn’t played yet this season, and Miami is off to a 13-5 start with plenty of depth at the wing spots.
Waiters has been suspended twice already this season, once for a preseason argument with Spoelstra over playing time and once for an incident on a team flight that reportedly involved a THC-infused gummy. Still, he seems to have the support of his teammates, many of whom spoke out to welcome him back.
“We talk about the next step, what’s coming now, how we can build from that point on,” said Udonis Haslem, who contacted Waiters several times while he was away from the team. “Those are the conversations that I have with him, and I express my support for him. It’s not a time to turn your back and have a beat-down session. It’s time to be there for your brother.”
There’s more from Miami:
- The Heat may get another reinforcement with the return of Derrick Jones Jr., Jackson adds in the same story. Jones, who hasn’t played since Nov. 7 because of a strained hip, is listed as probable for today’s game.
- The offseason trade that sent Hassan Whiteside to the Trail Blazers is working out for both teams, observes Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. Whiteside has given Portland a much-needed rim protector amid injuries to other centers and blocked 10 shots Friday night. He didn’t have a future in Miami because Heat management preferred Bam Adebayo and probably wouldn’t have re-signed Whiteside after his contract expires this summer. They also needed to clear cap room to complete the deal for Jimmy Butler.
- Justise Winslow may eventually reclaim his starting role, but he has been effective in two games off the bench since returning from a concussion, Winderman notes in a separate story. It has helped that Winslow is joined on the second unit by two former starters in Goran Dragic and Kelly Olynyk. “He and Goran and KO, they already have a great chemistry, among the three of them,” Spoelstra said. “So that, those minutes with those guys, it’s almost like a bike, again. And I think that helps him find his rhythm, and he’ll continue to get better as we get more games.”