Heat: Still no word from Alston

Rafer Alston’s absence from the Miami Heat took another turn
Wednesday, with the team denying that the embattled point guard was
told shortly before his sudden departure he would no longer get
playing time.

Alston was quoted by ESPN.com saying that he chose to leave
because of a personal issue involving a family member, plus said
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told him that he “wouldn’t be playing
any more.”

On Wednesday, Spoelstra – who, like the rest of the Heat
organization, said he still has not heard from Alston since a
text-message exchange last week – denied Alston was told that his
minutes were gone, saying only that the 11th-year guard was
informed before Miami’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers last
Thursday that Carlos Arroyo was taking over the starting job.

“Actually, he probably still would have been in the rotation,”
Spoelstra said. “Probably not with the minutes he would have
liked, and I also told him that the way the year’s been going, that
it’s still up for grabs. I’ve had those conversations with
everybody in the locker room. It’s about production right
now.”

The Heat hosted the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night.
Alston remains listed on the roster, but his image did not appear
in the team’s pregame introductory video.

Before the game, Spoelstra said he was aware of the comments
attributed to Alston.

“My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family,”
Spoelstra said. “But we still have not talked to him, so our
stance is the same. … I think we’re all curious just to find out
more.”

Alston played the first 6 minutes of Miami’s win over Golden
State last Tuesday, then appeared to be upset when removed from
that game. Alston didn’t play two nights later against the Lakers,
and has not been with the team since.

Alston played in 25 games for the Heat since signing with the
club on Jan. 7, averaging 6.6 points and 2.9 assists.

Spoelstra said the team has continued reaching out to Alston, to
no avail. He wouldn’t say if Alston would be welcomed back, should
he even try to return to the Heat.

“As soon as we find out more, I’ll be able to tell you more,”
Alston said.

Alston told ESPN.com, “the way I handled it was wrong” and
that “I still want to go back and tell them face to face” about
the situation.

The Heat have been having internal discussions for several days
about adding a player to the roster, because Arroyo and Mario
Chalmers are the only two full-time point guards currently in the
locker room – where Alston’s nameplate has stayed on his dressing
stall. They are carrying 14, one under the league minimum, so they
would not have to formally part ways with Alston before making a
move.

“We have one spot available,” Spoelstra said. “Like a lot of
teams that have a spot, you’re weighing whether bringing somebody
in can actually help, whether it might be a development player,
somebody you can secure for the summer, and you’re also weighing
whether that person can disrupt the continuity based on their
expectations.”