Heat center Hassan Whiteside played the first 8:53 of the third quarter against Orlando Tuesday night, grabbing three rebounds and blocking a couple of shots, missing the one shot attempt he took. After a fast start to the game for Whiteside (10 points in the first quarter), his effectiveness seemed to fade.
Tuesday night, watching the Heat struggle to slow the Magic offense and center Nikola Vucevic all night (he had 19 points and 10 boards), coach Eric Spoelstra mostly stuck with his bench units and kept Bam Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk as the bigs on the court in the fourth quarter. As he has done in five of the last six games. Whiteside did not see the court in the fourth. Again.
That prompted Whiteside to leave the bench in the final minute and just walk to the locker room (watch the coaching staff’s heads turn to watch him go).
Why? We don’t know for sure. Whiteside went back out on the court to shoot after the game and by the time he returned to the locker room it had been closed to the media. Others were asked about it by Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel.
“Probably extremely upset like we all are,” Spoelstra said.
“He had to go to the bathroom,” Wade said.
Riiiiight. The bathroom.
Spoelstra is likely right, Whiteside has complained before when the Heat go small and use Adebayo or anyone else to close out games. The coach trusts those lineups, he likes trying to spark the team with a more modern style, but it leaves Whiteside on the outside looking in.
Miami has tested the trade market for Whiteside, but he is owed $25.4 million this season with a player option (he will undoubtedly pick up) at $27.1 million for next season, that’s a lot of salary and other teams are not taking that on without some sweeteners thrown in the package. Pat Riley hasn’t been up for that. So here we are.
This isn’t the first time Whiteside has been frustrated on the bench, and it won’t be the last. It’s more of an ongoing issue in Miami.