Dion Waiters

Heat Notes: Waiters, Johnson, Robinson, Olynyk

Both Dion Waiters and James Johnson remained on the bench throughout the Heat’s 19-point loss at Boston last night, leading Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel to wonder about their futures with the organization. Waiters, who recently returned from his second suspension, hasn’t gotten on the court at all this season. Johnson, who failed to meet conditioning standards at the start of training camp, has appeared in just six games.

Winderman believes management is drawing a “hard line” about conditioning, comportment and sacrifice, which may mean a lot of bench time for Waiters and Johnson going forward. Both players have contracts that won’t be easy to trade, as Waiters is signed for $12.65MM next season, while Johnson has a $16MM player option.

There’s more this morning from Miami:

  • Heat officials were unanimous in their selection of Tyler Herro with the 13th pick in this year’s draft, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Herro is off to an excellent start, averaging 13.6 points per game and shooting 39% from 3-point range. Miami viewed him as an elite shooter who could also contribute to the offense in other ways, and he received a glowing recommendation from his college coach, John Calipari, who said Herro has the gym rat qualities that the Heat look for. “Plus we needed shooting,” an unidentified Heat official said. “It was not a hard decision; he was our guy. We felt he had not only the stroke, but a lot of intangibles that were really unique.”
  • After Duncan Robinson went undrafted in 2018, the Heat were his first choice because coach Erik Spoelstra contacted him the night before the draft, Jackson adds in the same story. “The fact he reached out meant a lot to me,” Robinson said. “He told me about their culture and what they’re all about and how much they prioritize shooting, and guys that come here that are shooters tend to have their best years. He mentioned Wayne Ellington and some other guys. It just excited me. I was pretty adamant I wanted to be part of this place, at least do summer league with them and see where the chips fell.” Robinson said he had a “handful” of offers, and he chose Miami over the Lakers and Bucks.
  • Kelly Olynyk has been loyal to Team Canada for years, but an upcoming contract decision could affect his availability for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in late June, notes Steven Loung of Sportsnet. Olynyk can opt out of his $12.2MM deal for next year and might be without a contract when the tournament begins. He would be risking an injury that could have a significant impact on his future earnings.

Eastern Notes: Irving, Waiters, Jackson, Winslow

Kyrie Irving will miss at least two more games for the Nets as he recovers from a shoulder injury, Malika Andrews of ESPN.com reports. Head coach Kenny Atkinson isn’t concerned about Irving’s slow recovery and his lack of travel with the team.

“I think I used to get frustrated more,” Atkinson said of Irving’s slow recovery. “I’ve had my moments of frustration because I want him back so bad. But you hear our performance staff and then you talk to Kyrie and then you get your mind to a place where that’s the smartest thing to do.”

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Head coach Erik Spoelstra said Dion Waiters will “probably” be active tonight for the Heat, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel tweets. Waiters hasn’t played for Miami since he was suspended for eating an edible — or at all this season.
  • The Pistons‘ medical team evaluated Reggie Jackson‘s back today and the results showed positive signs of progress, as the team announces on Twitter. The point guard’s rehab from a stress reaction will continue and he’ll be re-evaluated in two weeks.
  • Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel wonders if Justise Winslow is more valuable to the Heat as a trade chip than a contributor. Winderman makes a case for the team to trade the former top-10 pick and gain additional help.

Heat Notes: Waiters, Jones, Whiteside, Winslow

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.”

Dion Waiters’ 10-Game Suspension Ends

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.

Heat Notes: Winslow, Waiters, Johnson, Nunn

Justise Winslow was happy to be back on the court Wednesday after missing more than three weeks with a concussion, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. The Heat swingman said symptoms such as headaches and sensitivity to light and noise affected him for about a week after he collided with Nuggets forward Paul Millsap on November 5. He wasn’t able to practice until Tuesday.

“The concussion symptoms are probably the worst thing,” Winslow said. “The headaches, the light, all that. But it’s part of this league, the injuries and all that. Take care of your body, listen to your body. So I knew I wasn’t right. … The [concussion] protocol, I’m glad it’s put into place. Because going through that and rushing through that and trying to get back on the court is not the best thing for your health long term.”

Winslow started the season’s first five games, but was used off the bench Wednesday as the team hoped to ease him back to action. That plan was scrapped as injuries to other players forced him to play 34 minutes. Coach Erik Spoelstra will decide soon whether to return him to the starting lineup on a regular basis.

“I don’t want to set any expectations, just one day at a time for me,” Winslow said. “But hopefully against Golden State [tonight], you can see a little bit more of my natural self, handling the ball a little bit more and just the defensive intensity. I was just so happy to be out there. I wouldn’t say I was star struck, but I almost felt like a rookie.”

There’s more Heat news to pass along:

  • Tonight marks the final game of Dion Waiters‘ 10-game suspension, Chiang tweets. Spoelstra said the team has a plan for Waiters to return to action, but wouldn’t share it with reporters. Waiters hasn’t played since arguing with Spoelstra about his minutes during the preseason.
  • Although conditioning is no longer an issue for James Johnson, the veteran forward remains outside of Miami’s rotation, Chiang notes in a mailbag column. Johnson has only gotten into six of the first 17 games and is stuck behind Bam Adebayo, Meyers Leonard, Kelly Olynyk and two-way player Chris Silva.
  • The Warriors didn’t have room for Kendrick Nunn last season, but they could really use him now, notes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Nunn was in camp with Golden State last fall, but couldn’t earn a spot on a team loaded with talent. Now that injuries and free agent losses have gutted the roster, an offensive force like Nunn would be valuable. “I understood the business part of it,” said Nunn, who spent the season with the Warriors’ G League affiliate in Santa Cruz. “They loved me as a player, that’s why the signed me on draft night. So, I was thankful there. But the business side of it was I didn’t get the call-up like I wanted to, and they were trying to work things out.”

Heat Notes: Winslow, DeRozan, Leonard

Justise Winslow made his return to the lineup on Wednesday, playing 34 minutes in his first game back from a concussion. After the game, coach Erik Spoelstra said that the plan moving forward is not to have the Duke product play that much.

“I had no intention of playing him that much. K-Nunn got hit in the chest. He couldn’t play. Duncan got five fouls. So thank goodness we had Justise for those minutes,” Spo said (via Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald.

The team was also without Jimmy Butler, who missed the contest because he was not feeling well. Butler is expected to be back in action on Friday, so that will also cut into Winslow’s playing time.

Here’s more from Miami.

Heat Notes: Jack, Winslow, Waiters

The Heat have acquired Jarrett Jack‘s G League rights, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel relays (Twitter link). Jack is still free to sign with any NBA club at any time should there be interest from a rival franchise.

Here’s more from Miami

  • In his latest mailbag, Winderman wonders whether Justise Winslow will re-enter the starting lineup for the Heat. Winslow is expected to return tonight, though his minutes will be monitored and coach Erik Spoelstra‘s decision could come down to how Duncan Robinson is playing once Winslow is up to speed.
  • Dion Waiters can still help the Heat despite their deep roster full of talent, Winderman contends in the same piece. The scribe adds that Waiters’ playing time could come down to his willingness to accept a new role.
  • In a separate piece, Winderman cautions that there is much we don’t know about why James Johnson has not played more this season. Johnson had conditioning issues early in the season, though it’s unclear how much those have cleared up.

Southeast Notes: Fultz, Wizards, Butler, Waiters

Markelle Fultz has been aggressive and productive for the Magic in recent games, Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel writes. Fultz, who is eligible for a rookie scale extension next offseason, has scored in double figures the last four games while recording at least 14 drives in three of his past four games, Parry notes. The increased offensive production from the top pick in the 2017 draft comes at a time when top frontcourt players Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon are nursing ankle sprains. “With a couple of our main guys out, I wanted to get guys going and I knew I had to be aggressive to help us make up those points that we were missing,” Fultz said. “It’s just about me getting into the paint and letting my guys know if they are cutting I’ll find them and also scoring when I have to.”

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Beyond Bradley Beal, there are no players who are guaranteed crunch time minutes with the Wizards, Kevin Brown of NBC Sports Washington notes. During a close win against Charlotte last week, coach Scott Brooks used three reserves down the stretch. “I think we’re a team that doesn’t worry about rotations,” forward Davis Bertans said. “Whoever has their game going, those guys are going to be in the game and…that’s beneficial for the team and I think that’s everyone agrees with that.”
  • Jimmy Butler was greeted with mostly boos and jeers when the Heat played Philadelphia last week and he was fine with that, Michael Lee of The Athletic relays. Butler chose Miami at the start of free agency and the teams eventually agreed to a multi-team sign-and-trade. “I’m the enemy. I mean, you don’t got to like me ‘cause I’m on the other team. I’m OK with that. I really am,” he said. “They don’t know what’s going on. I love fans. I love my fans. But you don’t know what happened.”
  • Dion Waiters‘ appeal of his 10-game suspension could drag on for quite awhile, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel writes. Waiters was suspended by the Heat for conduct detrimental to the team. Often a compromise is worked out behind the scenes in such cases and the arbitrator’s ruling might happen during the offseason, when all parties are available to participate in the process, Winderman adds.

Players Association Appeals Waiters’ Suspension

The NBA Players Association has filed an appeal of Dion Waiters‘ 10-game team suspension, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel tweets.

Waiters is trying recoup $834K in lost wages but the appeal won’t allow him to suit up any sooner. The appeal includes 30-day notice and the disputed amount will be held in escrow, Winderman continues. Waiters’ initial one-game suspension and the wages lost has also been appealed, Winderman adds.

The 10-game suspension imposed by the Heat for conduct detrimental to the team was announced on November 10th after a bizarre incident on the team plane.

Waiters experienced a medical episode on a team flight after consuming a “gummy,” an edible form of marijuana.

“We are very disappointed in Dion’s actions this season that include the very scary situation on Thursday night, and grateful that the outcome wasn’t worse,” the Heat said in a statement at that time. “There have been a number of instances this season in which Dion has engaged in conduct detrimental to the team.

“… We expect all of our players, including Dion, to conduct themselves in accordance with the highest standards, and to show professionalism and respect for their teammates, the team, the fans and the NBA community.”

Waiters will be eligible to return on December 1 in Brooklyn. However, the shooting guard had already lost his rotation spot prior to the suspension.

The first suspension, also for conduct detrimental to the team, banned him for the first game of the season. He has yet to play a single regular-season minute. Waiters also irritated the front office when he took to social media following his first suspension and took shots at head coach Erik Spoeltra.

Waiters is making $12.1MM this season and has another year and $12.65MM remaining on his contract.

Waiters Calls Suspension “A Minor Setback”

Dion Waiters couldn’t be with the Heat last night because he’s in the middle of a 10-game suspension, so he traveled to Syracuse to watch the Orange and get some advice from his college coach, writes Donna Ditota of Syracuse.com.

“I just wanted to come up and talk to coach (Jim Boeheim),” Waiters said in his first public comments since the season began. “I know that’s a person who will always be there for me if I ever need anything. It’s a chance for me to come up, be around, talk to the coaches, things like that. And that’s important.”

It’s been a troubled season already for Waiters, who was also suspended for opening night after clashing with Miami coach Erik Spoelstra in a preseason argument about playing time. Waiters has only been active for two games and hasn’t taken the court at all.

The emergence of rookies Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Herro has made Waiters expendable in an already crowded backcourt. The Heat have reportedly tried to work out a trade, but haven’t found any interest in Waiters, who is making $12.1MM this year and is under contract for 2020/21 at $12.65MM.

The current suspension is the result of a medical incident on the team plane last week. Waiters passed out after consuming a THC-infused “gummy” and reportedly suffered a panic attack when he was revived. The Heat suspended him for conduct detrimental to the team.

In his conversation with Ditota, Waiters refused to discuss the specifics of what happened on the team flight, but insisted he’s still “in a great place” mentally.

“I can only control what I can control at the end of the day, so some things you just can’t allow to take your head the other way, some things happen for a reason,” he said. “If you stay locked in, if you believe and trust in yourself, trust in the work you put in, you know, it’s a minor setback. It happens. It’s life. You learn from it. The only thing I can do is move forward. Stay focused. Stay even-keeled. Let everything else take care of itself.”