Heat reinstate Dion Waiters, but when he will make his on-court season debut is unclear
Waiters is on the inactive list for Tuesday’s home game against the Atlanta Hawks, Miami’s fourth contest of the season — and the fourth that the shooting guard has missed.
“He will work out, he will not be active and then we’ll take it from there,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Tuesday.
Waiters was suspended Oct. 19 for conduct detrimental to the team, one day after he expressed displeasure with playing time during Miami’s preseason finale. Heat President Pat Riley said that was “unprofessional,” and noted it was one of multiple incidents that led to the suspension.
His suspension officially ended Thursday. The Heat announced because he had been away from the team for nearly a week at that point that he would not travel for the team’s two-game weekend trip to Milwaukee and Minnesota.
It was not the start to the season Waiters envisioned. He spent the offseason rehabbing and shedding weight and body fat — two top priorities of the Heat culture. He arrived at camp wanting to be one of Miami’s starting wings opposite Jimmy Butler, but the emergence of rookies Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Herro appeared to leave Waiters in a fight for a rotation spot.
“Enough’s been said about it,” Spoelstra said. “We’ll take it day by day.”
Since the suspension was for one game, Waiters has lost $83,448 of his $12.1 million salary. But he stands to miss out on much more at this rate, since his contract carries a bonus of just over $1 million for appearing in 70 games this season. After not playing Tuesday, the most Waiters could play in this year is 78.
Given his recent history, that seems unlikely. Waiters is in his fourth season with the Heat and has never made more than 46 appearances in a year since coming to Miami. Tuesday’s game will be the 250th Heat contest since he joined the club, and the 130th he has missed — largely because of ankle injuries and surgery on his ankle and foot.
Waiters is a career 13.2-point scorer, and has averaged 14 points per game while with the Heat. The 27-year-old is in the third year of a four-year contract with about $47 million in guaranteed money.