Hassan Whiteside

Heat Notes: Whiteside, Spoelstra, Wade, McGruder

Hassan Whiteside has impacted the Heat in a much more positive way this season, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, who shares perspectives from some of Whiteside’s teammates and other figures around the franchise.

Whiteside, who missed part of last season due to injury, was unhappy with his playing time after his minutes dropped from 32.6 per game to 25.3. The Heat handled the matter internally at the time, working with him to become a better teammate and approach games with a team-first mentality.

“I think I’m just in a better place than what I was last year,” Whiteside said, according to Jackson. “Going through all the injuries and stuff, I was real frustrated with myself too, not being able to be there with my teammates, not being able to contribute like I wanted to. There was a lot of frustration with myself also, with the injuries. I’m just happy we’re winning. All the other stuff will come.”

Whiteside has averaged 12.5 points, 12.3 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in 25.8 minutes per game this season with Miami. His overall mindset and willingness to trust coach Erik Spoelstra has helped improved their relationship as a result.

“Spo’s my guy,” Whiteside said. “We overcommunicate. We got an understanding. He wants to win. I want to win. We’re definitely in a better place.”

Spoelstra, who’s coached Whiteside for each of the past five seasons, is impressed with his growth and maturity. Whiteside has put forth a ton of work in recent months, including improving his quality of screens to help his team.

“Every year, he’s becoming a better basketball player and learning how to become an ultimate winner. And he’s enjoying it more,” Spoelstra said. “That’s the whole thing that’s tough for players to really grasp. The more you breathe life into somebody else and enjoy somebody else’s success, whatever it is that you are searching for yourself, you usually end up getting because of that giving mentality.”

There’s more out of Miami today:

  • Erik Spoelstra will tie Pat Riley‘s franchise record by coaching his 849th regular-season game with the Heat on Monday, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel tweets. Spoelstra, who’s in his 11th season as head coach, can pass Riley’s record on Wednesday against the Clippers.
  • Dwyane Wade played his final game in Chicago on Saturday, tallying 14 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists in nearly 27 minutes. “I have more of a connection here than anywhere else,” Wade said postgame, according to Mark Strotman of NBC Sports. “It’s my birth city. It’s the place where my vision to become an NBA player started, watching my favorite team and watching my favorite players growing up. It definitely felt different than any other city but it was a good different. It was a joyous time for me to be here.”
  • Rodney McGruder has earned a higher ground for restricted free agency this summer, Winderman details for the Sun Sentinel. McGruder, 27, met the criteria of starting half of the season (41 games) last week, raising his $1.9 million qualifying offer to $3MM. The CBA also states that the “starter criteria” could include playing 2,000 or more minutes, according to Winderman, with McGruder logging 1,185 minutes just over the halfway point of the season.

Heat Notes: Wade, Waiters, Whiteside, Winslow

Dwyane Wade has re-emerged as a vital late-game scorer for Miami, but he won’t mind sharing that role when Dion Waiters returns from ankle surgery, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Waiters returned to practice this week for the first time since his January operation, and the Heat are hoping he can make his season debut soon.

“It’ll definitely be times,” Wade said of sharing the ball with Waiters. “I mean, he’s a big-shot maker and a big-shot taker. I’m not worried about him at all at those moments. But there will be times. It’s just me understanding I’m at a different phase in my life, where it doesn’t matter.”

Wade, who holds nearly all the franchise scoring records, has made a greater effort in his final season to get his younger teammates involved in the offense, encouraging them to take shots in clutch situations.

“It’s understanding that I want other guys to be in those positions,” he added. “And I want them to succeed, obviously, but you grow in failure, as well, in those moments. So I don’t do what I used to do, which was always go get it in those moments. I don’t.”

There’s more today out of Miami:

  • The Heat are being cautious with Waiters to make sure he’s fully ready before he starts playing again, Winderman states in a question-and-answer column. The organization has seen Waiters return too early from other injuries twice before and they want to make sure he’s available for the second half of the season. They are hoping to gradually increase his minutes until he is ready to take on a sizable portion of the scoring load.
  • In the same piece, Winderman credits coach Erik Spoelstra for working center Hassan Whiteside back into the fourth-quarter mix even though the Heat were successful without him. Whiteside is seeing more time in late-game situations, although his free throw shooting remains an issue.
  • Justise Winslow had taken over point guard duties with Goran Dragic injured, but that change hasn’t been noted on All-Star ballots, where Winslow is still listed as a forward, Winderman observes in a separate story. Other Miami players out of position on the ballots are Josh Richardson and Rodney McGruder.

Spoelstra: Whiteside Leaving Bench Early Is “Unacceptable”

In last night’s loss to the Magic, Heat center Hassan Whiteside left the bench early during the closing seconds of the fourth quarter and did not return. Per ESPN, head coach Erik Spoelstra was not given an explanation at the time, surmising that Whiteside was “probably extremely upset like we all are.”

However, teammate Dwyane Wade provided a more detailed explanation, telling reporters that Whiteside simply left the bench area to return to the locker room early because he had to go to the bathroom, which Whiteside confirmed today, per David Furones of the Sun-Sentinel.

“I didn’t know it was going to be as big of a deal as it was. I couldn’t hold it. My stomach was bothering me,” Whiteside said. I had to go to the bathroom. I’m sorry if that makes me a bad guy.”

Despite Whiteside’s explanation, Spoelstra apparently still wasn’t happy, perhaps not believing that the center’s absence was completely caused by stomach issues. Per Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press, Whiteside was disciplined internally.

“It’s totally unacceptable behavior by Hassan,” Spoelstra said. “We handled it, as a team, in the locker room today. That’s all any of you need to know.”

Whiteside, who averaged just 25.3 minutes per game last season, his lowest since his first season with the Heat in 2014/15, has so far logged a similar 26.9 minutes per game this season. However, both his rebound and block numbers are up, with his 13.7 RPG good enough for third in the NBA behind Andre Drummond and DeAndre Jordan.

Southeast Notes: Williams, Howard, Whiteside, Clifford

Hornets forward Marvin Williams has a right shoulder strain, an MRI on Monday confirmed, according to a team press release. Williams suffered the injury on Sunday and will be re-evaluated next week. Lottery pick Miles Bridges, who scored a career-high 16 points in 29 minutes against New Orleans, will see his role expand during Williams’ absence. Williams is averaging 8.3 PPG and 5.1 RPG in 24.8 MPG.

We have more from around the Southeast Division:

  • Wizards center Dwight Howard is more likely to exercise his player option for next season after undergoing surgery last week, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington notes. Howard underwent a spinal procedure to correct a gluteal ailment and will be sidelined for two to three months. He has a $5.6MM option and if he exercises it, it’d likely push the Wizards further over the projected cap. Washington already has $111MM in salary guarantees to just five players next season.
  • Heat center Hassan Whiteside has often been out of the late-game mix, David Wilson of the Miami Herald reports. Prior to his 23-point, 20-rebound outburst against Utah on Sunday, Whiteside had not played more than 25 minutes in the team’s previous four games.
  • Prior health scares related to a lack of sleep has caused lifestyle changes for Magic coach Steve Clifford, as Shaun Powell of NBA.com details. Clifford now gets a normal amount of sleep and he feels he can now more effectively perform his job. “I feel great, I feel like I have a lot more energy,” he told Powell. “Getting seven hours every night, I find that very relaxing. I’ve developed other interests.”

Heat Notes: Whiteside, Ellington, Butler, Maten

Heat center Hassan Whiteside had a good stretch of games this past week, recording double-doubles in each of his three contests and nearly recording a triple-double in Wednesday’s win over the Spurs.

The Heat benefit most when Whiteside is fully engaged, and after last season’s back-and-forth debacle with coach Erik Spoelstra, many were quick to write the 29-year-old off before the 2018/19 season even began.

“I’m very confident, man,” Whiteside said after Wednesday’s win, according to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. “My body feels great. I think a lot of people had written me off. That’s fine. I don’t need anybody’s justification. But I feel like if I do those things for myself, it’ll put me in the conversation of being an All-Star, being defensive player of the year.”

Whiteside worked tirelessly to improve his body and conditioning last summer, and it’s paid off through 12 games. Entering Monday’s contest against Joel Embiid and the 76ers, he’s holding per-game averages of 14 points, 15.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks.

“It’s kind of like he’s changing his mindset to be great,” teammate Bam Adebayo said.

Should Whiteside continue to play solid basketball on both ends, he could be in consideration for his first ever All-Star appearance with the Heat.

There’s more out of Miami today:

Southeast Notes: Riley, Whiteside, M. Williams, Carter

Heat president Pat Riley told his players just before the season started that he was pulling out of trade talks with the Timberwolves involving Jimmy Butler, according to Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Riley held a team meeting October 14 in which he acknowledged that negotiations had been going on and apologized to players whose names became public in trade rumors. That was just days after the teams nearly completed a deal that would have sent a package that included Josh Richardson and a protected first-round pick to Minnesota. However, Riley didn’t guarantee that negotiations with the Wolves wouldn’t resume.

Today’s trade that sent Butler to the Sixers eliminates that as a possibility. With about $130MM in salary, Miami is hovering above the $123.7MM luxury tax threshold and would face a $9.7MM tax payment if the team can’t trim $6.3MM by the end of the season. Riley said Thursday that the team isn’t currently active on the trade market, but tax concerns may change that before the February deadline.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Heat center Hassan Whiteside, who has reportedly been on the trade block for several months, is “changing his mindset to be great,” teammate Bam Adebayo tells Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. Whiteside posted his best game in a long time Wednesday with 29 points, 20 rebounds and nine blocked shots. “I think a lot of people had written me off,” Whiteside said. “That’s fine. I don’t need anybody’s justification. But I feel like if I do those things for myself, it’ll put me in the conversation of being an All-Star, being defensive player of the year.”
  • Marvin Williams says the players were thrilled this summer when they learned that Tony Parker was leaving the Spurs to join the Hornets as a free agent, writes Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype. Parker brought championship experience to Charlotte, having won four titles in San Antonio. “He’s so willing to teach everyone and he’s very patient with all of us,” Williams said. “He’s obviously been in certain situations that a lot of us haven’t been able to experience yet, so that knowledge and that wisdom really helps us.”
  • Williams believes the way the game has changed in recent years has helped the HawksVince Carter stay productive at age 41, relays Brendan Marks of The Charlotte Observer. Carter still displays his vertical leap on occasion, but he has prolonged his career with a deadly jump shot. “As the league has evolved, he’s almost benefited from it because he still can guard multiple positions, and he can still really shoot the lights out,” Williams said.

Southeast Notes: Lamb, Whiteside, Rivers

As James Borrego entered his first regular season as a non-interim head coach, he made a significant change to the Hornets‘ starting lineup by slotting Jeremy Lamb alongside Kemba Walker in the backcourt. As Rick Bonnell writes for The Charlotte Observer, so far Lamb has made that decision look like a good one, as he has improved as a defender and provides more scoring and ball-handling in the starting lineup.

While Lamb’s traditional statistics are down from his breakout 2017/18 season, he is still a good fit in the starting lineup and a much-improved defender. As Bonnell points out, Borrego praises Nicolas Batum for helping Lamb on that end of the floor through consistent effort that has rubbed off on Lamb.

So far, the numbers tell the story, as the Hornets’ defense is nearly 5 points per 100 possessions better when Lamb is on the floor.

Borrego made the initial decision to start Lamb as a result of his desire for more scoring options in the starting lineup. The change led to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist coming off the bench as the team’s best wing defender, thereby putting more defensive responsibilities on Batum and Lamb. So far, the results have been promising as the Hornets look to return to the playoffs for the first time in three seasons.

There’s more from the Southeast division:

  • Much hasn’t changed for Hassan Whiteside and the Heat this season, as his spurts of strong statistical outputs are mixed in with inconsistent playing time. As Ira Winderman points out for The Sun Sentinel, Whiteside is near the top of the league in rebounds and blocks per game, yet will still receive the short end of the stick from game-to-game, which will be something to monitor moving forward.
  • With the Wizards off to a disappointing 1-7 start, Austin Rivers has been frustrated by his own play this season, notes Ben Standig for NBC Sports Washington. Rivers is down to just 6.5 points per game while shooting 37.3 percent from the field, a far cry from his production in recent seasons.

Southeast Notes: Hawks, Morris, Whiteside, Parker

The Hawks have provided some detail regarding some of the injuries that have been plaguing their roster to begin the 2018/19 season.

Swingman Justin Anderson, who was traded to the Hawks from the Sixers back in July, is still rehabilitating from a pre-trade surgery to address recurring tibial stress syndrome in his left leg. There is still no timetable for his return.

Big man John Collins, who may expect to have a breakout sophomore campaign in 2018/19, is also still rehabilitating from mild inflammation and soreness in his left ankle. He is still out, but his return is clearer. His rehab will be reviewed in eleven days with an update from the Hawks to follow.

Fellow big man Dewayne Dedmon is returning after participating in his first full live practice with the team yesterday. He was re-assessed today and is playing for the Hawks in their game against Dallas this evening.

Finally, Hawks swingman Daniel Hamilton has returned to modified practice following rehab for a tear in his right rotator cuff. There is no timetable for his return to game action.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

Southeast Notes: MKG, Bamba, Whiteside, Bridges

Hornets forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is in the NBA’s concussion protocol and will not play in the team’s preseason game on Tuesday, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer reports. This is at least the second time in his career that Kidd-Gilchrist has suffered a concussion. He endured one during his rookie season in 2013. When Kidd-Gilchrist returns, his role will change, Bonnell notes. New coach James Borrego will play him primarily at power forward and he’ll likely be on the second unit.

We have more from around the Southeast Division:

  • The Magic’s Steve Clifford has been impressed by how rookie big man Mohamed Bamba has picked up the coach’s schematic concepts, John Denton of the team’s website reports. Bamba, the No. 6 overall pick, made his preseason debut on Monday. “He said, `I’m watching this game and all I’m looking at are what their coverages are like and what they’re running for offense,’” Clifford told Denton. “People can get excited about (Bamba’s) length and that shows his physical talent, but he’s a smart guy. And I do think he has a real affection for the game.”
  • Heat center Hassan Whiteside will struggle to get enough playing time regardless of how well he plays, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel opines in his latest mailbag. If Kelly Olynyk and Bam Adebayo receive rotation minutes, Whiteside will have to make do with fewer minutes than he’s played in the past. When  James Johnson returns from a sports hernia that has limited him to non-contact drills in practice, getting Whiteside adequate playing time will be even more difficult, Winderman adds.
  • Rookie Miles Bridges has played all three frontcourt positions during the team’s two preseason games, Bonnell notes in a separate story. He is averaging 16.5 PPG while shooting 59% from the field. “He picks things up quicker than I anticipated,” Borrego said. “His feel for the NBA game is much higher than I thought. He’s starting to figure out rhythm, screening action, terminology.”

Heat Notes: Winslow, Whiteside, Waiters, Butler

Justise Winslow‘s hope for an extension may fall victim to the Heat’s other recent financial decisions, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Miami already finds itself in luxury tax territory because of moves made during the past two offseasons and may not want to commit to a new deal with Winslow before the October 15 deadline.

After the Heat missed out on Kevin Durant in 2016 and lost Dwyane Wade to the Bulls, they responded by matching an offer sheet for Tyler Johnson and signing James Johnson and Wayne Ellington. A year later, Miami was a finalist for free agent Gordon Hayward, but once he chose the Celtics, the Heat used their cap space to add Kelly Olynyk.

The franchise could have more than $131MM in committed salary for 2019/20 if Hassan Whiteside, Tyler Johnson and Goran Dragic all exercise their player options. Winslow will become a restricted free agent next summer if no extension deal is reached.

There’s more this morning from Miami:

  • Whiteside may not be any happier with his playing time this season, Winderman adds in the same story. The center voiced his complaints about the coaching staff to the media last year as his minutes per game dropped to 25.3 after reaching a career-high 32.6 the season before. Whiteside is Miami’s highest-paid player at $25.4MM per season, but his usage has fallen as the Heat have transitioned to using smaller lineups. With Bam Adebayo, Olynyk and James Johnson all competing for minutes in the middle, it seems unlikely that Whiteside’s role will increase.
  • Dion Waiterslingering ankle injury takes away the Heat’s chance to see how he will work in tandem with Wade in training camp, Winderman notes in another piece. With no experienced backup point guard on the roster, Wade may inherit the role, similar to what he did in Cleveland. However, it’s going to be difficult to sort out all the backcourt candidates until Waiters is healthy enough to play.
  • The Heat have been mentioned among teams with interest in Timberwolves forward Jimmy Butler, and they could offer the type of culture and veteran roster that Butler reportedly wants, Winderman tweets. However, they won’t have the cap room to add another star next summer, which might lessen Butler’s interest in coming to Miami. Winderman suggests that Richardson, Winslow, Olynyk and Adebayo could be among the players the Heat would consider moving in a Butler deal.