Miami Heat

Heat suspends Dion Waiters for 10 games ‘for conduct detrimental to the team’

The Dion Waiters situation continues to evolve.

On Sunday, the Heat suspended Waiters for 10 games without pay for conduct detrimental to the team. The suspension began with Friday’s loss to the Lakers at Staples Center, which means it will end with the Heat’s home game against the Warriors on Nov. 29.

The next game Waiters, 27, will be eligible to play in following the suspension will be the Heat’s road matchup against the Nets on Dec. 1.

The 10-game suspension is related to a series of events involving Waiters that began with complaining about playing time in the preseason, continued with social media shots directed at coach Erik Spoelstra and teammate Tyler Herro and it culminated with an alarming medical situation involving Waiters on the Heat’s Thursday night flight from Phoenix to Los Angeles, a source told the Miami Herald.

“We are very disappointed in Dion’s actions this season that include the very scary situation on Thursday night, and grateful that the outcome wasn’t worse,” the Heat said in a statement issued Sunday.

“There have been a number of instances this season in which Dion has engaged in conduct detrimental to the team. Accordingly, he will be suspended without pay for 10 games, including the Lakers game last Friday, and will be eligible to return after the Golden State Warriors game on November 29th.

“We are proud of how our players have started the season. We expect all of our players, including Dion, to conduct themselves in accordance with the highest standards, and to show professionalism and respect for their teammates, the team, the fans and the NBA community.”

South Florida Fox Sports Radio host Andy Slater reported Friday night, “Waiters overdosed on ‘gummies,’ sources say, and was passed out when plane landed. He had a seizure when he was finally woken up, I’m told.”

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Adrian Wojnarowski reported Saturday night that Waiters experienced a panic attack on the Thursday night team flight after consuming a THC-infused edible. According to ESPN, “Waiters missed the game in Phoenix because of a stomachache and was seeking relief when he took an edible he was unfamiliar with, sources said.”

League rules prohibit the use of THC, with players who violate the NBA’s marijuana policy forced to enter the league’s marijuana program. Along with entering the marijuana program, a first violation comes with no additional penalty, a second violation comes with a $25,000 fine and a third violation comes with a five-game suspension.

The Heat is still unsure what caused the medical situation involving Waiters on the team plane, according to a source. The 10-game suspension issued by the Heat does not have anything to do with a possible violation of the NBA’s anti-drug policy, with drug violations handled by the league.

The mother of Waiters, Monique Brown, went to social media on Saturday morning and posted a message on her Instagram story: “Please don’t Believe the rumors the media will report fake news to get clicks and likes ... smh none of that mess is true!”

Brown went on to post: “Thanks to all who reach out to us concerning [Waiters] ... He’s good ... We appreciate it.”

Waiters is in the third season of a four-year, $52 million contract he signed with the Heat in the summer of 2017. He has a $1.2 million bonus in his contract for appearing in at least 70 of Miami’s 82 games, and the 10-game suspension will erase any chance of Waiters qualifying for that extra money.

Although the possibility of Waiters achieving the bonus has been ruled out, the Heat will not receive $1.2 million in cap relief relief under the hard cap. Bonuses are not calculated until the end of the season even if the requirements are not met during the season.

The 10-game suspension marks the second team-issued suspension Waiters has served this season. Waiters was suspended for the first game of the season, for what the team called unprofessional conduct — including complaining on the bench during the Heat’s preseason finale and refusing to do one mandatory weigh-in.

Waiters has been on the Heat’s active roster in just two games this regular season — a Nov. 3 win over the Rockets and Thursday’s win over the Suns — but he did not play or even appear on the team’s bench in either game. The team said he was in another part of AmericanAirlines Arena working out during the Heat-Rockets game and said he was dealing with a stomach illness the day of the Heat-Suns game.

Waiters has been off limits by the Heat for comment since his initial suspension at the beginning of the regular season.

Following the Heat’s week-long West Coast trip, the team did not practice Saturday and Sunday. The Heat is scheduled to practice Monday in advance of Tuesday’s home game against the Pistons.

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Anthony Chiang covers the Miami Heat for the Miami Herald. He attended the University of Florida and was born and raised in Miami.