Hassan Whiteside is finally back in the Miami Heat lineup after missing three games with a hip injury, but he hasn’t returned as a starter.
In Miami’s win over the Atlanta Hawks, Whiteside played just 15 minutes off the bench, ending the night with four points and seven rebounds.
While Whiteside has been incredibly vocal about his desire to play starter’s minutes in the past, he has thus far changed his tune, saying he will accept what Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra decides.
“If that’s what coach wants, that’s what he wants,” Whiteside said after the team’s morning shootaround on Wednesday. “I got nothing to say. I don’t really know.”
He clearly isn’t enthused about the shift, but he also stated that he would accept the change if it becomes long-term.
“Yeah, whatever the team needs,” he said. “I’m just going to come out here and try to dominate my minutes, be effective.
“When I’m out there. I think my plus minus for the season is plus.
“I came off a 29, 11 game, got hurt. This is what he wants to go with. Can’t do nothing [but] just accept [it] and come out and dominate.”
He admitted that he and Spoelstra have not spoken about his usage going forward. He also mentioned the added benefit of playing a reserve role means he gets to play alongside Dwyane Wade more often.
“We haven’t talked about it,” Whiteside said. “I’m not back 100 percent. I’m going to keep coming in and try to play the best I can out there. It’s going to be a different unit out there. I get to play with D-Wade more. I get to look at the bright side.
“You’re going to play against the backup guys. It’s a little different. You can read the game a little more, kind of see what’s going on, who’s hot, what kind of schemes they’re going with. It gives you some advantages. As far as being a starter, you come out warmer.”
The Heat are currently in a fight for their playoff lives. Tonight, a win versus the Charlotte Hornets would get them back into the playoff standings as the eighth seed.
Hopefully, Whiteside will be able to have a positive impact on the game no matter his usage.