TORONTO - First, let’s make this clear: Heat center Hassan Whiteside wasn’t complaining about the significant reduction in his playing time this season.
But when asked how he’s dealing with it, Whiteside also made this very clear: It’s frustrating. And he hopes that it changes at some point during his Heat tenure, with more minutes alongside Bam Adebayo one potential solution that appeals to him.
"It’s tough; I mean it’s tough," he said last week when asked how he has dealt with his average minutes per game dropping from 32.6 last year to 25.7 this season.
"I’m not going to lie. It’s frustrating. It’s nothing I can really do about it. Just keep a positive attitude. Coach is going to try to do what’s best for the team. He just wants to win. If I am playing 10 less minutes than I played last year, there isn’t much I can do about it."
But Whiteside also said that front office decisions created this situation.
"That’s what the GM wanted," he said. "Pat Riley drafted a center [Bam Adebayo]. Kelly Olynyk, they gave him a big contract. That’s what they wanted – they wanted more people in the frontcourt. That’s what the Heat wanted."
Coach Erik Spoelstra recently has shown an inclination to playing Whiteside and Adebayo together more, with both players embracing that lineup. Does that pairing need to work long term in order for there to be enough minutes for both talents?
"It would definitely be helpful, because I would definitely play more minutes," Whiteside said. "We’ve just got to decide. I think it could definitely work."
Whiteside wants to make clear that even though his minutes are down, his play hasn’t diminished.
"I know you media guys love numbers," he said. "And I am top eight or top 10 in the NBA in player efficiency rating. You can tweet that. So when I’m out there, I’m being very effective."
As of Monday afternoon, Whiteside was 12th in ESPN’s complex player efficiency rating formula, just behind Kyrie Irving and Karl Anthony Towns, and just ahead of Damian Lillard, Jimmy Butler, Andre Drummond and LaMarcus Aldridge.
Couple other notes:
• Rodney McGruder, out since October with a broken fibia, participated in his first full practice on Monday and is expected back after the All-Star break.
James Johnson said McGruder has looked very good in workouts - “his jumper looks great.”
• According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, the Heat stretched the league minimum money owed to AJ Hammons next season over the next three seasons, meaning a minimal cap hit each of those seasons. The Heat released Hammons, who never played a game for the Heat, in order to create a roster spot to sign Dwyane Wade.