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.
Hassan Whiteside isn't happy about his reduced minutes. pic.twitter.com/f2XQ8k4wm2— ESPN (@espn) April 1, 2018
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.
And by the way, you can’t miss 30 games, and just come back from missing 9 straight with a “minor” issue, and complain about minutes. Please.— Jonathan Zaslow (@ZaslowShow) April 1, 2018
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.
The Heat are 6.1 points per 100 possessions better without Hassan on the court. Spo doesn't use him because he tanks the offense. It's not complicated. https://t.co/Nyu1xatJIq— Rohan Nadkarni (@RohanNadkarni) April 1, 2018
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.