Hassan Whiteside

Hassan Whiteside To Miss Time With Knee Injury

Having missed the Heat’s game on Wednesday in New York, veteran center Hassan Whiteside appears set to be sidelined for at least another week or two of action. The Heat have issued a press release announcing that Whiteside, diagnosed with a left knee bone bruise, will undergo rehab on that knee over the next “one to two weeks.”

Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra initially downplayed the seriousness of Whiteside’s injury, but the center contradicted his coach’s assessment earlier this week, as Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel detailed. While Whiteside didn’t speculate on whether it has affected his play this season, he said that the bone bruise – which he suffered in the Heat’s regular season opener – had been “really” bothering him since opening night.

“You know, I sat out, I missed them games, I came back, and it’s still bothering me,” Whiteside said. Asked if the pain in his knee is worse when he runs, jumps, or absorbs contact, Whiteside replied, “Everything, man, everything.”

The injury is a concern for the Heat, who are already missing Rodney McGruder and Okaro White, and are off to a 10-11 start this season — they’re 2-4 without Whiteside in their lineup. It’s possible Whiteside will be ready to get back on the court within the next couple weeks, but the 28-year-old says he won’t return until he’s fully healed, as Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald tweets. It’s not clear how long that will take.

In the meantime, Kelly Olynyk and rookie Bam Adebayo should see increased roles, while little-used bigs Jordan Mickey and Udonis Haslem could earn a few minutes too.

Southeast Notes: Whiteside, Simmons, Frazier, MCW

The knee soreness that forced Heat center Hassan Whiteside to sit out tonight’s game could become a long-term issue, according to Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. In a video posted on the newspaper’s web site, Whiteside says the knee has been giving him problems since the season began. “It’s really bothering me, man,” Whiteside said. “We’re going to figure it out. We’re going to figure it out when we get back to Miami and figure out what’s wrong.”

The knee problems began on opening night when Whiteside suffered a bone bruise. He was held out of the next five games, but hasn’t missed another one until today. Whiteside has remained productive despite the pain, averaging 14.9 points and 12.7 rebounds in 15 games.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Free agent addition Jonathon Simmons was inserted into the Magic’s starting lineup Monday, and coach Frank Vogel plans to keep him in that role, relays Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel. Simmons took Terrence Ross‘ place in the starting five and responded with a team-high 21 points. Vogel said he will evaluate how he uses players before each game, but added, “I would anticipate ‘Simms’ being in the starting lineup indefinitely, until I decide otherwise.”
  • The Wizards just need a steady performance from point guard Tim Frazier as he fills in for the injured John Wall, writes Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. Frazier and Tomas Satoransky will both see increased playing time with Wall sidelined for about two weeks with knee inflammation. “He’s not going to play like John and we don’t expect him to play like John,” coach Scott Brooks said. “We want him to just play to his best ability, and that’s getting our team in the offense and not turning the ball over, take the open shot.”
  • Michael Carter-Williams, who joined his fourth team in four years when he signed with the Hornets this summer, believes he has found a comfortable situation in Charlotte, according to Sam Perley of NBA.com. Carter-Williams’ season debut was delayed after getting platelet-rich-plasma injections in both knees, but he has found a role as a defensive specialist off the bench, averaging a team-high 1.25 steals per game. “MCW is a difference-maker,” said Hornets coach Steve Clifford. “He changes our defense, he can guard multiple guys. He’s working his way into shape, he’s got terrific feel, he can play fast and slow [and] he can find people.”

Florida Notes: Gay, Whiteside, Magic, Augustin

Rudy Gay might have been a better free agent target for the Heat than Kelly Olynyk, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. In response to a reader’s question, Winderman notes that Gay was rehabbing from his Achilles injury in Florida and expressed interest in coming to Miami before winding up in San Antonio. Gay got a little more than $17MM over two years, with about $8.8MM of that as a player option for next season. Olynyk received $46MM over four years from the Heat.

Gay would have given Miami a proven alternative at small forward when Rodney McGruder was lost to a left tibia stress fracture. The Heat couldn’t have known in July that McGruder would be unavailable, but Winderman says depth at that position would have been desirable if the plan all along was to move Justise Winslow to power forward. Gay is averaging 11.8 points and 5.3 rebounds through 16 games with the Spurs, while Olynyk is putting up 9.2 points and 5.5 boards in 15 games.

There’s more this morning from the Sunshine State:

  • In the same piece, Winderman questions whether the Heat will be willing to make another max offer to Hassan Whiteside if he opts out of his current deal after next season. As small-ball continues to spread throughout the league, some teams are re-evaluating the worth of traditional centers. Whiteside will have an early-termination option on his salary of slightly more than $27MM for 2019/20.
  • After being one of the league’s early-season surprises, the Magic already face a crossroads to their season after Saturday’s 40-point loss to the Jazz, writes Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel. Orlando came out of the gate at 6-2, but is back at .500 after dropping four straight games. Coach Frank Vogel hinted that changes might be on the way and called last night’s performance “unacceptable,” a sentiment shared by many of the players. “I think we lost what made us good at the beginning of the season: playing together, having fun out there, enjoying the game,” Nikola Vucevic said. “Over-dribbling, over-trying to get stuff instead of just playing simple basketball, like we did earlier in the year, it just affects us little by little. It just takes away from our energy. It’s like it’s taking little bites [out of us]. By the end of the game, there was no energy left.”
  • The Magic got some good news Saturday with the return of veteran guard D.J. Augustin. An important part of Orlando’s surprising early-season success, Augustin missed seven games with a hamstring injury. He was held scoreless in 17 minutes yesterday, but was averaging 8.3 points and 5.1 assists through his first eight games and shooting 39% from 3-point range.

Heat Notes: Whiteside, McGruder, Adebayo, Winslow

Heat center Hassan Whiteside returned to action tonight after missing five games with a bone bruise on his left knee. Although Whiteside’s absence has been part of the reason for a disappointing 2-4 start, there are other factors, explains Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

Those include a defense that has slipped from fifth in points allowed last season to 23rd so far this year and 3-point shooting that ranks 27th in the league. Miami is also reeling from the loss of Rodney McGruder, who will miss three to six months after undergoing surgery for a left tibia stress fracture. “He’s always in the right spot, he’s always getting those 50/50 balls, even if it’s 70 against 30,” Goran Dragic said of the second-year shooting guard. “We don’t know how but he’s going to get that ball. Those are game changers.”

There’s more from Miami:

  • The Heat held a team meeting Sunday to let players discuss the reasons for the slow start, Jackson writes in the same story. Tyler Johnson said coach Erik Spoelstra opened the meeting, followed by the team captains, then other players. “Sometimes I forget what got me here is undeniable energy and hunger,” Johnson said. “Nobody can keep me from being able to do my job. Whoever is matched up in front of me, I didn’t care who they were, if they were an all-star. That Rodney McGruder type attitude. We definitely do need to get back to that.”
  • After posting his first double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds against the Timberwolves, rookie Bam Adebayo credited his time at Kentucky for helping him get ready for the NBA, Jackson adds. Adebayo said Wildcats coach John Calipari teaches players to put the organization above their own goals. “If you sacrifice for the better of the team, that means you care about the team more than yourself,” Adebayo said. “Kentucky is a blueprint for the NBA.”
  • Justise Winslow has relied on speed more than bulk while making the move to power forward, relays Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. The third-year player, who was limited to 18 games last season by wrist and shoulder problems, has dropped 10 pounds and embraced his new duties. “I think he’s quick, he’s faster, he’s able to get to the ball quicker,” Spoelstra said. “So much of having 12 rebounds in a game is quickness to the ball. And he’s got a knack to the ball, but now he can really get to it quickly.”

Heat Notes: Culture, Whiteside, Waiters

A lack of communication may be behind Miami’s sub-par start this season. As Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes, the Heat hashed things out in real, raw terms Sunday morning and seem to be in better spirits as a result of it.

We had our discussions this morning,” forward James Johnson said. “We aired it out this morning. A lot of people took heat. I think it was the best thing for us to do, even more important than film. That’s what this culture is about, that’s what we’re about — staring guys in the eyes, telling guys the truth and that’s how you show you really love somebody.”

The Heat started famously bad last season before rallying from an 11-30 start to compete for an Eastern Conference playoff berth. That comeback was built largely on the culture that Johnson refers to.

There’s more out of Miami this weekend:

  • Dion Waiters will still get an opportunity to be a closer for the Heat, despite the fact that he struggled mightily against the Celtics this weekend. Head coach Erik Spoesltra told the Sun Sentinel that, despite a lingering ankle issue that occasionally appears to impede him, Waiters will continue to be fully in the mix heading forward.
  • The Heat have been without Hassan Whiteside since their season opener. Point guard Goran Dragic considers the 28-year-old center to be the heart of the team, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel reports. The big man has missed four games with a bone bruise on his knee.
  • The Heat haven’t started their campaign how they would have liked to and emotions are starting to ramp up. “I love all the emotions that players go through,” head coach Erik Spoelstra told the media, including the Sun Sentinel. “I don’t even care if it boils over. It means you care.”

Heat Notes: Olynyk, Whiteside, Hayward, Williams

Free agent addition Kelly Olynyk has dropped 16 pounds and made changes to his game since coming to Miami, writes Manny Navarro of The Miami Herald. Olynyk believes the weight loss has made him more mobile, and he is tied for the early-season league lead in drawing charges.

“You’re trying to beat somebody to a spot, and if they’re going to go through you, then you got to go down,” Olynyk explained. “In this league and the way it’s played today, sometimes if you try to stand your ground and try to resist and you go into them, now they flop and now it’s your fault. So why take the risk? It’s a turnover, it’s your ball and now you’re going the other way.”

Olynyk’s four-year, $50MM deal includes a $1MM bonus if he plays 1,700 minutes this season, a figure he never reached in his four seasons with Boston.

There’s more news out of Miami:

  • Starting center Hassan Whiteside began drills Friday with assistant coach Juwan Howard, but still isn’t ready for a full practice, Navarro adds in the same story. Whiteside has missed four straight games with a bone bruise in his left knee. The Heat prefer that their players participate in a full-contact practice before being cleared for games. “We’re going to be in constant communication as he rehabs and does treatment and starts to get back into the mix and that’s why we’re just continuing to say he’s day by day, because that’s what he is,” said coach Erik Spoelstra.
  • If not for the season-ending injury to Gordon Hayward, tonight would have been the Heat’s first meeting with a player they tried hard to get in free agency, notes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Miami was among three finalists for Hayward, along with Boston and Utah, and waited through and waited four days before he announced his intention to join the Celtics. “We loved the meeting with Gordon,” Spoelstra said. “There’s a reason why we recruited him. And we thought it went well. You just never know how those things are going to play out.”
  • Rookie guard Matt Williams, who was assigned to the G League today, only used up three of his allotted NBA days this week, Winderman tweets. Williams, who is limited to 45 days in his two-way contract, spent four games with the team before being demoted. The clock didn’t start until Monday when G League training camps opened, Thursday didn’t count because the Heat had an off day and Friday was considered a travel day as Williams headed for Sioux Falls. The 3-point specialist didn’t get into a game for Miami.

Heat Notes: G League, Winslow, Whiteside, Williams

The Heat have passed the midway point of the preseason, which means a roster shakeup could be on the way, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. NBA rules state that players are eligible for an “affiliate” tag after spending half the preseason with a team. Winderman uses Erik McCree as an example, saying if he were to be waived now, then sign with another team and get waived again before the season opens, he would be assigned to Miami’s G League affiliate.

Waiving players once they pass the midway point and then signing replacements allows teams to create four affiliate spots for their G League franchises. The Heat pursued that strategy last year when they waived Stefan Jankovic and Keith Benson in the preseason, then signed Vashil Fernandez and Luis Montero, and all four wound up in Sioux Falls. In addition to McCree, Derrick Walton Jr., Matt Williams and Larry Drew II are eligible to join the Skyforce. Drew would be a returning player rather than an affiliate player, while Walton already has a two-way contract and will not count against the 15-man roster limit.

There’s more news out of Miami:

  • Justise Winslow will find out soon if the extra time he has been spending with shooting  consultant Rob Fodor is paying off, Winderman adds in a separate piece. The third-year forward has excelled in other areas, but shooting has been a persistent problem since he entered the league. He is a 40% career shooter from the field and 26% from 3-point range and is trying to bounce back from a torn labrum in his right shoulder that limited him to 18 games last season. “The way I see it in the basketball world, or just in general, God doesn’t give everyone everything,” Winslow said. “… And in the sense of basketball, once that thing gets figured out, there’s not much you could say I can’t do. I can bring the ball up. I can guard your best player. I can rebound. I can find my open shooters. I can push it on the break. So once that minor detail gets settled out, I think we’re going to have a very fun ride.”
  • Hassan Whiteside is a traditional low-post center, but the Heat would like to see him expand his shooting range, Winderman adds in another story.
  • Williams’ summer league performance gave him a shot to make the Heat roster, writes Mike Gramajo of The Miami Herald. The 23-year-old signed with Miami in late July after impressing the coaching staff with his performance during the summer. “It feels good just to know that my hard work is starting to pay off,” Williams said. “I’m with a great organization, and it couldn’t be better.”

Pat Riley Talks Wade, Roster, Whiteside, Richardson

While a buyout for Dwyane Wade is a popular topic of speculation around the NBA this fall, Heat president Pat Riley declined today to say whether his club would have interest in Wade as a free agent. Speaking to reporters, Riley praised Wade extensively and reminisced about the first championship the future Hall-of-Famer won with the franchise, but was careful to avoid tampering with a player under contract with the Bulls, wishing Wade the best in Chicago.

Wade was just one topic of discussion today for Riley, who also said that the Heat’s roster is set for training camp at 19 players, with he and Erik Spoelstra feeling as if it wasn’t necessary to fill that 20th and final spot. Riley also made a few other comments worth passing along, so with the help of Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald, we’ll round up some of those comments below. Be sure to check out Jackson’s piece for even more from Riley.

Let’s dive in…

On the fact that there are no All-Stars on the Heat’s roster:

“There were only 12 All-Stars in the Eastern Conference last year. We felt there were players last year who had All-Star years [on the Heat] but they weren’t selected. We have stars on our team but they’re not considered that.

“I respect the fact Kevin Durant gave us an audience when we went to the Hamptons to talk to him [in July 2016]. I felt we were a long shot. The same thing happened with Gordon Hayward [this past summer]. If we have the opportunity, we will always continue to pursue a player of that ability to come here. We made the decision to stay with this team. I like this team. … We are way ahead of a rebuilding cycle. We are one step away from being a very good team. One step away could be the collective effort of an ensemble cast, or one step away could be a move to bring a player here.”

On expectations for Hassan Whiteside:

“If he wants to achieve the goals he talks about in the media, and puts out on social media, which are great, great goals — to be Defensive Player of the Year and make the All-Defensive Team and be respected. Those are things you must bring every single night [and you] must bring every single day in the offseason. H is on the road to achieving some of those goals. He wants to win. He appreciates the team and his teammates around him. That kind of growth has come slowly but it’s there. We’re expecting a great year out of Hassan and we need a great year out of Hassan.”

On Josh Richardson‘s extension:

“He’s a prototype contemporary player and he’s young. … When you take a look at player value, there are a lot intangibles you have to look at. We didn’t want him to go in the open market next year and coming off a great year, having to match some crazy contract. If the average salary in the NBA is close to $9-10MM, that’s where a lot of these guys are falling. When these words come out of my mouth, $8MM or $9MM as the average salary, if I’m a player in this league, I am saying to myself, ‘I am going to stay straight, be right, do whatever I can to have a 10-year career in this league and set up my family for life.’ We felt he was worth it and we expect great things from him.”

On being happy with the team’s current point guard depth:

“If we didn’t feel comfortable with Tyler Johnson and Josh Richardson and Dion Waiters, then we would have gotten a veteran with 10, 12 years in the league. We don’t feel like we need that. If we did, it would have been easy for us to acquire that type of player.”

East Notes: Ball, Knicks, Caldwell-Pope

Any NBA team considering drafting Lonzo Ball later this month will do so knowing full well that the UCLA product comes part and parcel with his boisterous father. One Sixers executive, special adviser Jerry Colangelo, thinks that Lavar Ball could make things “challenging”.

Colangelo spoke with CBS Sports radio (h/t Chase Hughes of CSN Mid-Atlantic) and discussed the point guard from the Sixers’ perspective. As critical as Colangelo was, however, he was sure to acknowledge Ball as a terrific prospect and said that teams wouldn’t likely bypass the player because of it.

Though it’s merely our speculation, the comments could be little more than a Sixers smokescreen, a common tactic in the weeks leading up to the draft. Philadelphia, of course, would benefit from the Lakers having second thoughts and opting against drafting the acclaimed prospect.

Just yesterday it was reported that Los Angeles was supposedly leaning against drafting Ball, with their interest in prospects Josh Jackson and De’Aaron Fox allegedly growing.

There’s more out of the East:

Heat Notes: J. Johnson, Waiters, Cap Space, Whiteside

Using their cap space to keep their own free agents is a better option for the Heat than chasing Gordon Hayward or Blake Griffin, argues Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. Miami will have about $37MM to spend this summer if it declines a $6.3MM option on Wayne Ellington. Issuing a max contract of more than $30MM would severely cut into that total and make it impossible for the team to re-sign James Johnson and Dion Waiters. The Heat may try to trade Josh McRoberts, who is expected to exercise a player option worth a little more than $6MM, but Winderman doesn’t expect them to find any takers. He recommends using that $37MM to keep Johnson, Waiters, Ellington and Willie Reed.

There’s more news out of Miami:

  • The Heat’s decisions this summer will shape their roster for the next few years, Winderman writes in a separate piece. If Johnson and Waiters both sign three- or four-year deals, they will join Hassan Whiteside, Goran Dragic and Tyler Johnson, who are all under contract through 2019/20. Those three already take up $62.7MM of Miami’s cap room for 2018/19, when the cap is projected at $102MM. Even assuming team-friendly contracts for James Johnson and Waiters at a combined $28MM, the Heat would be at $90.7MM, without considering $5.2MM cap holds for Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson. Miami’s front office will have to decide soon if that core is worth locking up the salary cap for the next three seasons.
  • Despite recent comments from team president Pat Riley expressing loyalty to his players, the Heat would be willing to trade anyone on the roster, Winderman states in another column. The writer adds that Riley handled his press conference much better than Knicks president Phil Jackson did, but notes that if Dwyane Wade was allowed to leave last summer, then anyone is expendable.
  • After giving Whiteside a four-year, $98MM deal a year ago, the Heat want him to become a better low-post scorer, Winderman relays in another story. Whiteside continues to be among the league’s best rebounders and shot blockers, but the organization wants him to expand his offensive game and become a “championship” center. “Once you feed him that, he may be able to go there,” Riley said, “but you have to put him in that position. I think he has the ability to put up bigger numbers.”
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