The mystery that is Dion Waiters and the Miami Heat

From left, Miami Heat players Dion Waiters, James Johnson, and Justise Winslow look from the bench (David Santiago/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
From left, Miami Heat players Dion Waiters, James Johnson, and Justise Winslow look from the bench (David Santiago/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images) /

The Miami Heat needs to figure out a solution for the mystery that is Dion Waiters and it has to come fast with time running out.

This much is clear.  The Miami Heat and Dion Waiters are not in sync.  It’s stating the obvious that Waiters is very much in the doghouse but the more alarming concern is “what now?”

After 37 games into the 2020 NBA season, the former Syracuse standout has yet to play one single minute.  There have been times when it hasn’t been necessary especially with the Heat mounting one of their best starts in Heat history. Sitting with a 27-10 record and second in the East just four games behind Milwaukee in the loss column, this Miami team has reinvented their system and to everyone’s surprise, their identity is shocking fans everywhere.

So due to this unpredictable early success and combined with early outbursts leading to three consecutive suspensions, where does Waiters stand?  To furthermore this mysterious conflict is where does it go from here?

  1. He was suspended before the season opener in October for detrimental conduct related to playing time in the preseason.
  2. He was suspended in November for 10 games for the use of THC in gummy forms that caused panic attacks in a charter flight to their next game.
  3. He was then suspended in December for calling in sick then posting a social media pic enjoying a day off on a boat.

So after three consecutive trips to the pound, Waiters is but a mere afterthought in this rotation moving forward.  In fact with the immediate emergence of Kendrick Nunn and Duncan Robinson, Waiters will continue to be left in the dust. So what to do now?

The Heat can continue to punish Waiters for his behavior, and honestly with good reason, but is it the right move? With any other team, he would’ve been immediately cut (if contract wasn’t a concern) but aren’t they risking a potential trade by not displaying his abilities?

As of now he is stuck and will be for the foreseeable future in bench purgatory.  But if the Heat organization is looking to cut ties with the Philadelphia native, wouldn’t playing him in garbage time just to parade that he is in fact still a pretty decent two-way guard be the only move they have left?

James Johnson is essential to this Heat team still regardless of his limited playing time.  Due to Kelly Olynyk‘s flaws, this combo can continue to replace each other when the other is cold.  There is still value for J.J. Waiters has too much competition at the moment and the future is in the young core.

It will all lie in head coach Erik Spoelstra’s hands for the remainder of the season, but they also need to think long term, so garbage time minutes are in order to structure some kind of trade scenario for future picks.  If not this mystery will continue to cloud this team possibly leading to more suspensions. A quick fix is in order.

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Waiters only appeared in 44 games for the Miami Heat in the 2018-2019 season.  He averaged 12.0 points, 2.8 assists and 2.6 rebounds per game.