The Miami Heat were one of more pleasant surprises of the 2017-2018 NBA season. The motley South Beach crew rode a wave of unexpected success all the way to postseason berth, and despite a hasty first-round exit at the hands of the precocious upstart Sixers it was further evidence that Pat Riley’s squeamishness for a full-fledged rebuild might not torpedo their future after all.
But their season wasn’t without its tumult, namely the ongoing war of words between Riley, the front office, and an increasingly disgruntled Hassan Whiteside. Toward the end of the season and on into the playoffs, Whiteside publicly criticized the way head coach Erik Spoelstra used him (or underused him) in their offensive schemes and benched him for crucial stretches of games.
The Heat eventually fined him for it, and Riley went so far as to call him out for being out of shape and not being mentally prepared during their opening-round series against the Sixers, when Joel Embiid literally played Whiteside off the court. But despite his efforts, Riley was apparently unable to find a suitable trade partner for Whiteside this summer, so both he and Spoelstra are resigning themselves to the fact that they’ll need to make things work going forward.