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Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside says he had “a great talk” with head coach Erik Spoelstra last month in a Miami Hotel and is ready to put both his struggles on the court and complaints about reduced playing time behind him.
Whiteside totaled just 26 points, 30 rebounds and six blocks in the five-game playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers. The disgruntled big man was very vocal about his lack of playing time in the postseason and how Spoelstra did not use him properly when he was on the floor.
At his end-of-the-season press conference, Heat president Pat Riley said Whiteside wasn’t in great shape and fully conditioned for a playoff battle mentally. He mentioned the disconnect between Whiteside and Spoelstra would take a discussion between the two.
During summer league, Spoelstra said he and Whiteside have been in communication all offseason and that their relationship is not what it appears.
Whiteside is looking forward to the 2018-19 season and says he’s healthy.
“We had a great talk,” Whiteside told reporters Wednesday in South Africa where he’s playing in the NBA Africa Game. “Just trust on both sides, I think that’s the biggest thing – trusting each other. It was about a four hour meeting. It was a lot about life. It was like two hours basketball; two hours life. It was a good meeting.”
Whiteside is owed $24.4 million and $27.1 million in the final two years of his contract. The Heat have tried to trade Whiteside this summer, but haven’t found a trade market and won’t move him for clutter.
“Me and Coach Spo [are] fine,” Whiteside said. “It was a great conversation between us. Like I said, me and Coach Spo is good. I’m excited coming back healthy this year, having Dion [Waiters], aka Philly Cheese coming back healthy, having all the guys healthy. Let’s get another shot at this thing with the guys healthy.
“Just coming back healthy, coming back from the bone bruise, it takes months to heal. I started feeling like myself these last two months or three months, getting back my explosiveness. A lot of the pain went away and I just feel good again.”
Riley says if Whiteside stays focused and plays hard every night, the 7-footer will see more success on the floor.
“I am confident that if he just comes every night and plays as hard as he can play, and do what he does best — which is rebound the ball, block shots, be a rim protector, be a hard pick and roll player, defend, all of those things — and does it with a pure heart and not with a mixed up mind of I need this or that, he will have a great year,” Riley told Miami reporters last Friday. “You go back to the first year and a half, people were talking about him being Defensive Player of the Year. He has that in him but it’s up to him.
“I am expecting him to have a great year. We value his talent. He just has got to bring it – I talk to his agents all the time. We are all in agreement. It’s up to Hassan. We are doing everything to help him but it’s up to him to decide how great he can be and how great he wants to be.”