Hassan Whiteside entered the offseason firmly planted inside the Miami Heat’s doghouse. He will not begin the 2018-19 regular season there.
Speaking on the eve of the Heat’s Media Day, head coach Erik Spoelstra told the Miami Herald‘s Barry Jackson he’s seen growth in Whiteside as both a player and person since the summer began:
On Hassan Whiteside: “I am grateful to have the opportunity to continue this relationship. It’s been a very good summer for Hassan, a great opportunity for growth. In many ways, there were uncomfortable things he had to navigate through last year.”
Spoelstra said Whiteside impacted winning during the second half of 2016-17. “I still see that guy. The most important relationship he has right now is with his head coach. I feel good about the work he’s put in. He’s in terrific shape. More importantly, his mindset has grown.”
But how will the minutes situation be resolved? “That will work itself out. He is working on his mindset, preparation, skill set. In my discussions with him, it’s good to work through some of the adversity and noise and be able to persevere. He and I know.
Coach Spo’s sentiments bode well for Whiteside, who finds himself inside an overcrowded frontcourt. Bam Adebayo, James Johnson and Kelly Olynyk all must factor into the rotation. Likewise, all of them should see time at the 5 when dual-big frontcourts won’t cut it.
Add in any time the Heat wish to allocate to Justise Winslow at the 4, and Whiteside could see his playing time and role curtail if he’s not on point. But that debate, it seems, has been a ubiquitous push and pull in Miami. This is nothing new. What matters most is how Whiteside responds, both on and off the court, to rolling with the punches—because he figures to be encountering role-related jabs all year long.