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Hassan Whiteside complains about lack of playing time

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Some observers questioned why Whiteside spoke as he’s just returned from an injury.

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Miami Heat Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

With the Miami Heat’s additions of Bam Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk, Hassan Whiteside has seen a reduction in his playing time. While he has said throughout the season that he’d like to play more, he’s mostly avoided having his frustrations boil over publicly. That ended Saturday night, after a disappointing overtime loss to the Brooklyn Nets in which Miami failed to clinch a playoff spot.

Whiteside played 20 minutes Saturday night, and never returned after the 3:55 mark of the third quarter. The 7-foot center questioned why Erik Spoelstra frequently goes small to match up with opposing teams in late-game situations — Spoelstra used James Johnson at center late last night — and called himself one of the best centers in the league.

Of course, some observers pointed out that Whiteside asked out of the game just five minutes in last night’s game. (After the game, Spoelstra mentioned that Whiteside’s conditioning is not yet where he wants it to be, though he spoke before Whiteside spoke to reporters.) Or that he has just returned from missing nine games due to a strained left hip flexor.

Others also pointed out that the Heat are 6.1 points per 100 possessions better without Whiteside on the court. Spoelstra uses Olynyk as the center down the stretch because he helps Miami’s spacing — a premium in today’s NBA.

Does this mean Whiteside’s days in a Heat uniform are numbered? Can Spoelstra and Whiteside meet in the middle? Can Miami’s veteran leaders help mediate the situation? With the playoffs looming, it’s best for the Heat to find a way to nip this conflict in the bud.