Heat Mailbag: Is Hassan Whiteside showing why teammates did not vote him captain?

Heat center Hassan Whiteside bounced back in Miami’s win at Phoenix Wednesday after being benched Monday at Golden State. (AP Photo/Matt York)

All the talk leading up to Miami’s victory in Phoenix Wednesday was about another Hassan Whiteside meltdown.

  Whiteside was benched, once again, by coach Erik Spoelstra for the final 23 minutes for Miami’s loss at Golden State on Monday. Spoelstra called it a “coach’s decision” and the team’s captains got involved, talking to their temperamental center.

The Whiteside benching and the fact he was not voted a captain, along with questions about Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson and possible trades are the subject of our latest mailbag. If you weren’t able to ask a question, send them in for future mailbags via Twitter to @Anthony_Chiang and @tomdangelo44 or email me at tdangelo@pbpost.

From Sean, Hollywood: Is Whiteside (upset) that he was not named captain? Could that be why he was pouting in Warriors game?

Heat coaches decided before the season to expand the number of captains to three and put it to a team vote. Udonis Haslem, who has been a team captain for about a decade, was, as expected, voted in and was joined by Goran Dragic, a nine-year veteran who has been with the Heat for about 2 ½ years; and James Johnson, who was with the organization just one season.

Not among those was Whiteside, the team’s highest-paid and lone max player who has been in Miami longer than Dragic or Johnson.

And if we needed any more evidence why his teammates do not look upon Whiteside as a leader we saw that at Golden State. Once again, Whiteside was benched by Spoelstra, an ongoing challenge for the Heat who continue to deal with these episodes in which Whiteside goes off the rails, pouts and suddenly looks disinterested. While his teammates, and Whiteside for that matter, have said all the right things since the captains were announced – he never outwardly appeared to be upset but the guess is it had to hurt somewhat inside – the message was clear.

Whiteside still has a long way to go in the maturity department, even at 28 years old. I have written several times that while he has shown improvement in that department, for every three or four steps forward he continues to take one step backward. And this cannot make the Heat happy. The Heat gave Whiteside a max deal because that is what he is worth in today’s NBA. He is an extremely talented and unique center that can impact the game on both ends, especially defensively. And when he is giving his full effort and is completely engaged he is one of the best all-around true centers in the league as he showed in a bounce-back game Wednesday with 23 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks against the Suns. And the Heat should expect nothing less, at all times.

And if not, what happened Monday will continue to happen.

From @sarge1985: Is it time to bail on Winslow & maybe Richardson? Winslow can’t shoot Richardson TOs are painful to watch. has Hassan reached his ceiling?

If you want the Heat to dump Winslow and Richardson for a bag of basketballs, that’s not happening, nor should it.

Let’s start with Josh. He has been the team’s best defender this season. The players he guards are shooting 11.7 percent below their normal field goal percentage, which is eighth in the league among those who have played at least eight games. Yes, his offense has been spotty and he’s shooting just 38 percent but the fact the he leads the team in plus-minus while shooting 38 percent shows how important he has been defensively. So, no the Heat are not going to “bail” on their starting small forward.

Winslow, though, needs to start showing improvement for the Heat to feel better about taking him 10th overall in the 2015 draft and Wednesday night may have been a breakthrough. Winslow was solid as the starting power forward in the win at Phoenix with 14 points, six rebounds and five assists. Yes, he has to start showing that consistently but in a season in which Spoelstra has rolled out six different starting lineups, maybe he found one he will stick with. The third-year forward is shooting better this season at 45.9 percent but that is because he is taking the ball to the basket more regularly. But the jump shot remains a concern. Entering the Phoenix game he was shooting 62.5 percent on shots within three feet of the basket, 25 percent from 10 feet to the 3-point line and 22.2 percent on threes.

That being said, neither is untouchable and if Pat Riley finds a deal for a proven star that he believes can improve this team he would not hesitate to trade either player.

As for Whiteside, probably not. He has a lot of room for improvement, especially, as noted above, with his maturity.

@MV305MIA, @zacnba and @FSUIZZY all had questions about the same subject, trades, and if the Heat will be making any soon and if any stars are available.

That question will be better answered as we get closer to the trade deadline, which this season is moved up to Feb. 8. Right now there is no telling who will be available. Already we have had one significant player moved this season (Eric Bledsoe from Phoenix to Milwaukee) and surely others will become available. I know it was the summer, but we saw Paul George, Jimmy Butler and Carmelo Anthony all traded prior to the start of the season, so who knows what names will be circulated in the next few months.

[Tyler Johnson out for Heat’s game vs. Suns due to illness]

[Heat getting to the basket, but not getting many foul calls. Why?]

[Dion Waiters is ‘glowing’ after the birth of his daughter]

[Miami-Notre Dame football 2017: Udonis Haslem calls the rivalry ‘personal’]

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