Sport Dave Hyde: Heat's Era of Lost Causes almost closed with Waiters' coming exit

04:25  12 november  2019
04:25  12 november  2019 Source:   latimes.com

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Carry on. Move along. There’s little left to see from the latest and loudest Dion Waiters mess other than the sports version of a spill on aisle five now awaiting cleanup.

Dion Waiters looking at the camera: The Dion Waiters saga should be closing with the Heat.© John McCall/Sun Sentinel/TNS The Dion Waiters saga should be closing with the Heat.

Waiters is not just invisible but irrelevant to the Heat now, as Monday’s practice underlined. His time left in town is down to red tape, league rules, proper timing, finding a trade he fits as an accounting measure and using a wet mop to wipe the Heat clean of a relationship far past functional.

If Heat President Pat Riley didn’t finalize this thought after Waiters reported again out of shape and out of his mind this preseason — and Riley probably did then — this past weekend served to confirm the coming split.

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Gummiegate was the latest issue for Waiters, a serial miscreant of team rules and common sense who now has a 10-game suspension. Waiters had to be treated after a seizure on a team plane due to THC-laced gummie bears, according to multiple media reports. Air Waiters indeed.

That, by itself, would make you wonder just where Waiters fit on a Heat team that’s re-worked its roster, reclaimed its culture and re-invented itself in fun fashion this season. It added young, impactful talent through smarts and scouting in the manner the Dolphins and Marlins are squandering years to do.

But the full truth is this wasn’t much of a marriage from the time Waiters signed a four-year, $52 million deal in what can now be termed Riley’s Era of Lost Causes. The man known for a cold, executive heart saw only the good in the child-like Hassan Whiteside, limited Tyler Johnson and journeymen James Johnson and Waiters.

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In return, Riley got who they were all along. The departure of Whiteside and Johnson came at a cost, as will this one for Waiters.

He signed on for four year and $52 million, knowing the program he was entering was part-NBA, part-Navy Seals. Weight checks. Behavior expectations. Imagine that for $12.5 million a year, right?

Waiters got that money and the Heat got the headache Waiters was in Cleveland and Oklahoma City. So the big blame here isn’t to Waiters. He remained the guy he was all along. He was out of shape and injured, as well as fundamentally unable to see who he is as a basketball player.

He’s part of the chorus, not the star he casts himself. Maybe such irrational boldness is how he made it to the NBA. It’s certainly why he confronted coach Erik Spoelstra on the sideline of a preseason game. Then again on Instagram. And again.

By Monday, Spoelstra was taking no questions about Waiters, referring only to a team release on the suspension. He was much more animated on the ways this team and its individual parts have played in a 6-3 start — “and we know we can get better from here,” he said.

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Udonis Haslem, as elder spokesman of Heat players, expressed relief Waiters was safe but refused to label it as a distraction.

“Obviously, the situation has been handled, so we move on,’ he said.

Waiters was probably never returning to the team after his preseason antics. The question remains exactly how he exits. The Heat need their current 14 players under contract to meet league rules and have no salary-cap money to simply cut Waiters and add another player.

So a trade is probably coming at some point where Waiters’ value is as an accounting measure to match up salaries of other players. Until then? Cleveland just told J.R. Smith to stay away last year. That sounds about right here.

The shame Waiters would have a role if he’d kept things in order. Jimmy Butler missed the first few games of the season on paternity leave. Injuries have the Heat down to possibly nine players now.

But we’re past pretending any reconciliation is coming. Put it on the schedule like Tuesday against Detroit or Thursday at Cleveland. Waiters is going. He probably was before Gummiegate. The mess just got bigger for the cleanup on aisle five.


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Heat’s Dion Waiters makes first comments to media since initial suspension at the beginning of the regular season .
Dion Waiters served the fourth game of his 10-game suspension in a familiar place. While the Miami Heat were putting away the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday to stay undefeated at AmericanAirlines Arena, Waiters made an appearance at his alma mater, Syracuse, during the Orange’s victory against Seattle.

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