The Miami Heat have won seven of their last nine games and are playing their best basketball of the season. However, lost in the shuffle during that stretch in the Heat’s rotation is Wayne Ellington.
Ellington isn’t hurt and isn’t being disciplined; he simply isn’t being played. During the nine game stretch for the Heat, Ellington has appeared just three of the games, however he was only on the floor for fourteen total minutes. In the Heat’s latest game against the Cavaliers on the road, Ellington didn’t log a single minute despite the team’s 25-point win and Dwyane Wade missing the game due to an illness.
With Dion Waiters now back in the mix as well, any chance of Ellington finding his way back into the rotation likely got much slimmer.
During the offseason, Ellington became one of the Heat’s top priorities after he scored a career-high 11.2 points per game and shot 39.2% from three-point range. The Heat followed through on their desire to retain Ellington, signing the sharpshooter to a one-year, $6.27 million deal. Prior to the nine game stretch where Ellington went largely missing, he seemed to re-assume his key role with the team. Ellington started 10 of the first 16 games he appeared in before having to miss time due to personal reasons, and was essentially phased out of the rotation by the time he returned.
This season, Ellington is averaging just 8.3 points per game and his three-point efficiency has dipped to 36.5%.
Curiosity towards the lack of minutes for Ellington sparked an all-time high when head coach Erik Spoelstra spoke prior to January 2nd’s game in Cleveland about his role on the team.
“I’ll be frank, it makes me sick to my stomach that I can’t find minutes for Wayne,” said Spoelstra.
There appears to be a missing piece to the puzzle here, but the most feasible reason for why Ellington hasn’t been getting minutes is his ineffectiveness on defense.
Despite some flaws Ellington might have, he does have one previously mentioned skill-set that many teams covet: three-point shooting.
In the modern day NBA where teams salivate over players who can catch fire from beyond the arc, Ellington would be a prime candidate for teams to target in a trade.
Ellington has shown no desire to be dealt and has said he hasn’t approached Spoelstra or the front office about his role, but he serves better value either being used, or being flipped for a player or draft pick the Heat can use while he contributes to another team. Plus, Ellington would be able to serve as a key contributor off the bench to a team with championship aspirations this postseason in need of more long-range shooting.
As the team has now flipped the page to 2019, they are beginning to figure out who fits in the rotation and who doesn’t while they aim to make the playoffs in consecutive seasons. With the current outlook, Ellington simply doesn’t seem to be involved in the team’s plans on the court.