Report: Miami Heat Could Move Forward Without Dion Waiters and James Johnson

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The Miami Heat have gotten off to a strong 2-1 start to the 2019-20 season despite being without a large number of players for various reasons.

Two of the players that have yet to take the court are veterans James Johnson and Dion Waiters. Johnson was banished from the team during training camp due to a failure to meet the team’s conditioning requirements. Waiters was suspended prior to the regular season for openly complaining about a lack of playing time.

According to Sun Sentinel‘s Ira Winderman, past actions made by team president Pat Riley could indicate that he may be willing to leave Johnson and Waiters out of the lineup for the foreseeable future if on-court success continues.

“Or the Heat, amid a confidence-boosting start in the duo’s absence, could simply move forward by only adding Jimmy Butler, expected back from paternity leave, back into the mix,” he wrote.

“For the Heat, that would mean leaving Johnson’s $15.3 million and Waiters’ $12.1 million salaries on the sidelines. Both would, as they have been — with the exception of Waiters’ one-game suspension — continue to receive their salaries. The oversight of the players’ association will make certain of that.”

Winderman then broke down when a precedent for this kind of team management was set in Miami.

“In 2015-16 and 2016-17 it meant persevering when Chris Bosh was taken out of the lineup by blood clots, seasons when he earned $22.2 million and then $23.7 million,” he wrote. “Even with such a significant amount of inactive salary, the Heat advanced within one game of the Eastern Conference finals in 2016 and closed with a 30-11 second half in 2017.

“In each case, they moved ahead, convincingly, with what they had.

“Before that, in 2000-01, when Alonzo Mourning returned from the Sydney Olympics with a major kidney illness and missed almost all of the season, there was persistence under Riley’s coaching to a 52-30 record, albeit with a first-round crash and burn in the playoffs.”

It is certainly worth noting that in the two aforementioned cases, both Bosh and Mourning were in much better standing with Riley and the organization compared to where Johnson and Waiters stand currently.

Bosh and Mourning were also exceedingly more valuable on and off the court. Whether that increases or decreases the chances that the two current players could be shelved remains unclear.

What is quite clear is that both futures of Johnson and Waiters in Miami are shaky at the moment.

While their Heat careers may not be over, they’re going to both have to work quite hard to prove that they still want, and deserve, to remain in South Florida.

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Jonathan is a freelance writer, filmmaker, and passionate fan of the NBA. In the past Jonathan has covered politics, entertainment, travel, and more. He is a proud contributor of Heat Nation.