Heat teammates frustrated after Whiteside ejected again
MIAMI — The look on Dwyane Wade’s face said volumes when he was asked about Hassan Whiteside after the Miami Heat’s bitter, 100-90 loss to the Boston Celtics on Monday, but he was clear in his assessment of his talented but troubled teammate.
"Very (disappointed) — we all are, as a Heat fan you are, in this locker room we are and everybody (else)," said Wade, whose 34-point night was wasted as the Heat dropped to 28-35 for the season. "He is going to have to learn and he is going to have to learn the hard way and that is by doing it his own way. Hopefully, he changes his mentality quick."
With precious little depth at the power rotation after multiple injuries, and in the aftermath of the recent Goran Dragic trade, the shorthanded Heat could not afford to lose Whiteside’s huge presence in the middle.
But that’s precisely what happened after his temper got the best of him once again when he shoved Kelly Olynyk with a cheap shot from behind with less than three minutes left in the third quarter and the Celtics already on a 7-0 run. Without him, Boston had free reign in the paint on both ends of the floor the rest of the way.
"We’ll handle it and it will be corrected," said head coach Erik Spoelstra. "Everybody is responsible to the team. There are consequences that do affect the team."
Whiteside has already racked up $40,000 in fines through his 34 games this season before Monday’s ejection. After escaping further punishment following his ejection last week for fighting Phoenix Suns center Alex Len, he will likely face suspension with his prior conduct sure to be considered by the NBA.
The previous incidents have clearly worn on Wade and likely the rest of the team at a time in the season when they cannot afford any more setbacks.
"He has had enough veteran advice. There comes a time where you have to do it yourself," Wade said. "There are only so many words that people can continue to say to you. You just have to do it, if not for you, then you have to do it for the other guys in here that you see out there sacrificing and out there playing hurt."
Losing to the Celtics was costly in the playoff race as well, with the Heat dropping to the ninth spot in the East and the Celtics now right behind them.
Of bigger consequence is the reality that the Heat may not be able to rely on Whiteside on a nightly basis. Beyond his recent issues with technical fouls, his constant early foul trouble has limited him in the first half of games. Aging reserves Chris Andersen and Udonis Haslem can only do so much, and it may cost a player like Henry Walker his roster spot if the Heat decide they need to look elsewhere for more size on the bench to act as insurance.
Michael Beasley, who was forced to play center for a third game in a row in Whiteside’s absence, knows a thing or two about ultra-talented players with behavioral problems, and his perspective on the situation carries weight. After being drafted second overall by the Heat in 2008, Beasley’s NBA career has been a disappointment in large part because of issues beyond the actual game. The heavily-tattooed player even has images of the "honorable" Autobot and "evil" Decepticon logos from the popular Transformers movies on both sides of his shoulders — a pop culture take on the "good angel, bad angel" imagery.
"It definitely hurts us because he’s one of our main guys, a focal point of our offense," said Beasley. "It’s definitely tough because we need him. We all go through emotions. We all go through ups-and-downs. We all get mad. You just have to learn how to control them. We definitely need him on the court."
Whiteside’s immaturity is costing the Heat after multiple dominant efforts had him pegged as the one bright side in a season marred by misfortune. His importance to the team is unquestioned, but his actions will lead to consequences that will further hurt his team should he be suspended.
"You are a part of a team and organization," Wade said. "We all have our moments, selfish moments, but you can’t continue to keep having them. You have to be reliable and you have to be counted on. Right now if he continues to act that way then he is not reliable. He is a good player, he is a young kid, he has to quickly learn from his mistakes and hopefully he does that."