Briante Weber on facing the Heat: ‘It’s just weird being on the other side’

Jameer Nelson #1 of the Denver Nuggets drives against Briante Weber #2 of the Golden State Warriors at the Pepsi Center on February 13, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

MIAMI — Briante Weber returned to AmericanAirlines Arena on Wednesday.

But it’s not the return he anticipated, as the point guard stepped on the court as a member of the Heat’s opponent. Weber, who spent the first half of this season with the Heat’s D-League affiliate in Sioux Falls, is on a 10-day contract with the Charlotte Hornets that runs through Wednesday.

“I am excited to play against them,” Weber said of facing the Heat after Wednesday morning’s shootaround. “It’s going to be the same thing as training camp. We’re just going to make each other better and just compete. I’m just going to try to do whatever I can do to help my team win. That’s all I’m here to do.”

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Weber spent training camp and the preseason with the Heat before ending up as one of their final roster cuts before the season. Miami opted to use its final roster spot on Rodney McGruder, who has already proven his worth with 47 starts in his rookie season entering Wednesday.

Miami also had a chance to bring Weber up from Sioux Falls in January when it was granted an additional roster spot on top of the NBA’s standard 15-player limit under the NBA’s hardship rule. Instead, the Heat decided to use that extra roster slot on a positional need to sign forward Okaro White from Sioux Falls to a 10-day contract.

“Of course it’s frustrating because I wanted to be a part of that team,” Weber said of never getting a chance to play for the Heat this season. “I wanted to help that team do the big things that we talked about in the preseason. But at the same time, at the moment they needed what they needed. I couldn’t fault them for doing what they had to do. At the end of the day, it’s business and it’s basketball. So they did what they needed to do. It’s obviously worked for them and I’m happy for everybody on the team. I talk to them daily. It’s just weird being on the other side.”

Weber — who averaged 16.5 points on 45.6 percent shooting, 7.5 rebounds, 7.4 assists and 3.3 steals per game in Sioux Falls — has produced mixed results in his two NBA opportunities this season.

The first one came when Golden State signed him to two 10-day contracts in February, as he averaging 1.7 points on 35.7 percent shooting in 6.6 minutes in seven games for the Warriors. The second opportunity is his current one with the Hornets, but he’s played just two minutes during his time with Charlotte entering Wednesday night’s game in Miami.

“I’m just enjoying the process,” Weber said. “As everybody says, just trust the process. I’m just here taking the journey and learning from it, and taking whatever I can from wherever I’m at.”

Through it all, even after Weber picked Golden State’s contract offer over Miami’s last month, Heat coaches and players have kept in contact with him.

“They were all for me going to Golden State,” Weber said of the Heat. “This organization is a family organization. They all texted me and told me congratulations. Coach Spo talked to Steve Kerr and told me what kind of player I am, what type of person I am. He was just giving me all the praise and I appreciate him for doing that. Throughout this whole journey, Spo has been texting me, (Dan Craig) has been texting me. Everybody has been texting me just telling me they’re looking out for me and wish the best for me.”

Maybe one day, Weber will return to the Heat organization. His first 10-day contract with the Hornets does expire at the end of Wednesday night.

“It’s not so much him saying he wishes he was here, but he definitely says, ‘Man, I miss you all,’ and stuff like that,” White said of his former Sioux Falls teammate. “Like I said, we talk all the time. We were in Sioux Falls for those three months. So, we miss being around each other. He’s focused and trying to get to where he wants to get.”

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