You could be blind as a bat and still have read between the lines.
Hassan Whiteside and Erik Spoelstra were not on the same page and never were on the same page. The Miami center looked like he wasn’t even close to being mentally or physically prepared for an NBA playoff series.
Heat President Pat Riley said as much when he spoke on Monday about his team’s first-round playoff exit to the Sixers:
“By the time we got to the playoffs, I don’t think he was ready,” Riley said. “He wasn’t ready. He wasn’t in great shape. He wasn’t fully conditioned for a playoff battle mentally. He and we got our heads handed to us.
“The disconnect between he and Spo, that’s going to take a discussion between them and it’s going to take thought on the part of coach and also Hassan. How will Hassan transform his thinking — 99 percent of it — to get the kind of improvement that Spo wants so he can be effective?”
Hassan Whiteside is soft. I’ve stayed away from “hot takes” during my first year on the Sixers beat, but I feel confident enough as a relative newcomer to identify this guy as a total slug.
Riley, to his credit, did a good job of side-stepping that, choosing his words carefully but insinuating that it was MUCH more about the player than the coach. He suggested that it’s on himself to repair a less-than-perfect relationship between Spoelstra and the highly-paid center, a guy entering year three of a four year, $98 million deal:
“There has to be an intervention and I’m going to be the intervener. That’s real,” Riley said during his annual postseason media session at AmericanAirlines Arena. “You got a guy that’s second or third in starting centers in plus/minus. There’s no doubt he was in a bad state in the playoffs. Whatever the reasons why, I have not really sat down with Spo and really talked about all of these things. Hassan was less-than, without a doubt, in the playoffs.
“I’m not going to give him any kind of excuse. But the season started with an injury and all year long there was a dilemma [knee, hip] of some kind. You deal with that as players at times.”
Whiteside averaged just 15.2 ineffective minutes in the Sixers series, even with Joel Embiid out of the lineup in games one and two. He finished with averages of 5.2 points and 6 rebounds, boosted by an outlier of a game four in which he put up 13 and 13 in 26 minutes of play while shooting 6-9 from the floor.
Most of Whiteside’s uselessness was simply Brett Brown playing small lineups that pulled him away from the rim. With the Sixers throwing Dario Saric and Ersan Ilyasova in the front court, Whiteside looked slow and clumsy trying to do, well, basically anything.
In the beginning of game three, with Embiid back on the floor, we thought he might be motivated by previous beef with the Sixers big man.
If you're wondering why Whiteside isn't getting touches:
He has ZERO energy on this play. Barely even walking to set his screens. He completely misses one on Redick to spring Tyler loose.
A better screen results in Embiid needing to help and an open lane for a Whiteside lob. pic.twitter.com/mVXVDR61vd
— Wes Goldberg (@wcgoldberg) April 20, 2018
Even Shaquille O’Neal, who sits on the end of the TNT desk on most nights, became so offended by Whiteside’s effort that he himself actually woke up and gave some effort:
Shaq’s analysis of Hassan Whiteside 🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/oLSmrNiZy1
— Marshall Ferguson (@TSN_Marsh) April 21, 2018
“It makes me mad watching this kid play.”
You are correct, Shaq Diesel. Whiteside didn’t have a competitive bone in his body in round one, which is why he rode the pine:
“I don’t get involved with Erik in how he wants to play his guys or how he rotates the players,” Riley said. “We have discussions, philosophical discussions about a lot of things.
“So I don’t have any real disagreement with how Spo used him. I would have taken him out of the game, too, you know, the way he was performing in some of those games.”
Just save this tweet, because it applies to mostly everything Whiteside does:
— Joel Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) October 14, 2017