Pat Riley may want to get started on that intervention he promised to hold between coach Erik Spoelstra and Hassan Whiteside.
Whiteside, the Heat’s 7-foot center, took another shot at his coach, this time in a video he posted on Instagram. Whiteside is shooting in what looks like a high school gym. At one point, he says “you don’t know I got the jumper.” He then launches the ball from above where the NBA 3-point line would be and turns to the camera before it even goes through the hoop.
“There’s a difference between you can’t shoot and not allowed,” he said.
Whiteside’s frustration has surfaced several times this season, griping about everything from playing time, to shots. Whiteside has always believed he has the perimeter game to be more than a back-to-the-basket center.
Whiteside, who turns 29 next month, averaged 25.3 minutes and 10.7 shots this past season, down from his career highs of 32.6 minutes and 12.7 shots in 2016-17.
Of his 578 field goal attempts, 284 were from the restricted area and another 190 were in the paint. That left 102 from midrange and two 3-pointers, of which he made both.
Of those from midrange, Whiteside took 47 shots from 16 to 24 feet, making 19.
Whiteside’s public complaining got tiresome to the Heat long ago and the organization thought it was sending their $98 million man a message in early April when he was fined an undisclosed amount for comments detrimental to the team after a profanity-laced outburst about Spoelstra’s decision to match up when teams go small, keeping Whiteside on the bench.
But Whiteside did not get the message. As his playing time decreased – he averaged 15.4 minutes in Miami’s five-game series loss to Philadelphia – Whiteside got more frustrated. He lashed out after Game 3 saying “coach wants me to just be in the corner and set picks,” and again after the Heat were eliminated and he was asked what was most frustrating for the team in this series.
Whiteside, who averaged 5.2 points and 6.0 rebounds in the series, made it about himself.
“Not being out there,” he said. “At least give me a chance to fight. I can understand if I was playing 30 minutes and I played bad. At least give me a chance.”
The Heat certainly will attempt to trade Whiteside this summer but his contract, which has two years, $52.5 million remaining, could make that difficult. Miami would be stuck taking back somebody else’s disgruntled player and probably another bad contract while possibly even throwing in one of its younger players to sweeten the deal.
Spoelstra went easy on Whiteside during his season-ending news conference, saying he thought the narrative and story lines about the center were “unfair” and adding: “I love working with Hassan.”
Riley, though, said there was a disconnect between Spoelstra and Whiteside.
“There has to be an intervention and I’m going to be the intervener,” he said.
Riley then said he did not think Whiteside was ready for the playoffs physically or mentally. Whiteside had missed nine games in March because of a hip injury.
“By the time we got to the playoffs I don’t think he was ready,” Riley said. “He wasn’t ready. He wasn’t in great shape. He wasn’t fully conditioned for a playoff battle mentally. He and we got our heads handed to us.
“How will Hassan transform his thinking – 99 percent of it – to get the kind of improvement that Spo wants so he can be effective? How can Spo transform his thinking when it comes to offense and defense or minutes or whatever. However he uses him, that’s what you do. We go through this almost every year with players. There’s always a disagreement, a change in philosophy or whatever it is. I have the same problem with Hassan. That problem is that he’s going to have to do something to change because he’s a helluva player.”