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Dave Hyde: Heat's Era of Lost Causes almost closed with Waiters' coming exit

Dave Hyde, Sun Sentinel on

Published in Basketball

Carry on. Move along. There's little left to see from the latest and loudest Dion Waiters mess other than the sports version of a spill on aisle five now awaiting cleanup.

Waiters is not just invisible but irrelevant to the Heat now, as Monday's practice underlined. His time left in town is down to red tape, league rules, proper timing, finding a trade he fits as an accounting measure and using a wet mop to wipe the Heat clean of a relationship far past functional.

If Heat President Pat Riley didn't finalize this thought after Waiters reported again out of shape and out of his mind this preseason -- and Riley probably did then -- this past weekend served to confirm the coming split.

Gummiegate was the latest issue for Waiters, a serial miscreant of team rules and common sense who now has a 10-game suspension. Waiters had to be treated after a seizure on a team plane due to THC-laced gummie bears, according to multiple media reports. Air Waiters indeed.

That, by itself, would make you wonder just where Waiters fit on a Heat team that's re-worked its roster, reclaimed its culture and re-invented itself in fun fashion this season. It added young, impactful talent through smarts and scouting in the manner the Dolphins and Marlins are squandering years to do.

But the full truth is this wasn't much of a marriage from the time Waiters signed a four-year, $52 million deal in what can now be termed Riley's Era of Lost Causes. The man known for a cold, executive heart saw only the good in the child-like Hassan Whiteside, limited Tyler Johnson and journeymen James Johnson and Waiters.

 

In return, Riley got who they were all along. The departure of Whiteside and Johnson came at a cost, as will this one for Waiters.

He signed on for four year and $52 million, knowing the program he was entering was part-NBA, part-Navy Seals. Weight checks. Behavior expectations. Imagine that for $12.5 million a year, right?

Waiters got that money and the Heat got the headache Waiters was in Cleveland and Oklahoma City. So the big blame here isn't to Waiters. He remained the guy he was all along. He was out of shape and injured, as well as fundamentally unable to see who he is as a basketball player.

He's part of the chorus, not the star he casts himself. Maybe such irrational boldness is how he made it to the NBA. It's certainly why he confronted coach Erik Spoelstra on the sideline of a preseason game. Then again on Instagram. And again.

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