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Heat on lockdown regarding Dion Waiters’ health situation

Sun Sentinel logoSun Sentinel 4 days ago By Ira Winderman, South Florida Sun Sentinel
Dion Waiters of the Miami Heat looks on against the Houston Rockets during the second half at American Airlines Arena on Oct. 18, 2019 in Miami. © Michael Reaves/Getty Images Dion Waiters of the Miami Heat looks on against the Houston Rockets during the second half at American Airlines Arena on Oct. 18, 2019 in Miami.

The Miami Heat have gone into lockdown when it comes to the status of guard Dion Waiters.

In the wake of a report by South Florida Fox Sports Radio host Andy Slater, Heat officials declined to comment on where Waiters stands with the team in the wake of an incident on the team flight from Phoenix to Los Angeles overnight Thursday.

After the South Florida Sun Sentinel independently confirmed that Waiters had taken ill on the flight, with emergency responders meeting the team plane on the tarmac, Slater reported Friday night, “Waiters overdosed on ‘gummies,’ sources say, and was passed out when plane landed. He had a seizure when he was finally woken up, I’m told.”

It was not clear whether the reference was to cannabis, which is widely available in Denver, where the Heat began their three-game trip Tuesday with a loss to the Denver Nuggets.

Unlike Waiters’ absence from the Heat’s Thursday victory over the Phoenix Suns, when he was listed by the team as being out due to a stomachache, the Heat reported Waiters as being out for Friday night’s loss to the Los Angeles Lakers only due to “illness,” without specifying the illness.

Waiters was not with the team at Staples Center for Friday night’s game, and has yet to be on the bench for a game this season, after being suspended for the Oct. 23 season-opening victory over the Memphis Grizzlies at AmericanAirlines Arena due to what the Heat determined to be conduct detrimental to the team.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra on Friday initially directed inquiries to general manager Andy Elisburg, who then said such questions should go through a team spokesman, who declined comment. Heat president Pat Riley, who attended Friday’s game at Staples Center, also declined comment.

While teams have latitude to discuss player injuries, they are not allowed to discuss personal matters in other matters, including substance-policy situations. Such cases are further removed from team control because of the NBA’s administration of the policy, with teams often initially unaware of where a player stands in various programs.

Because of the timing of the issue on the team plane, several teammates said Friday night they were unclear about the specific nature of the incident, with one expressing concern for Waiters.

Team officials declined to comment on whether a suspension was or could be in place, when asked by the Sun Sentinel.

The Heat were scheduled to fly back Saturday from Los Angles.

The team had placed Waiters off limits to media following the opening-night suspension, saying he would be available for comment once he returns to playing status. He has been active in two games during the regular season, but remained away from the team bench in both situations.

Waiters initially took to social media to question the team in the wake of his suspension, but has not offered such posts recently, other than an Instagram post that read, “Watch how it (all) come together.”

With Friday’s absence, it means Waiters now can only miss three more games this season in order to cash in on his $1.2 million bonus for appearing in at least 70 games, an annual bonus he has failed to cash in on during the previous two seasons of the four-year, $52 million free-agent contract he signed with the Heat in the 2017 offseason.

There has been friction between Waiters and the team during his Heat tenure regarding his conditioning, which was set back by an ankle issue that required surgery, with Waiters this past offseason acknowledging on social media about being “in a dark place” amid such outside criticism.

“Last year when I came off 1 of the most depressing & frustrating times of my life. Coming off injury & not feeling like myself nor looking like myself I was in a dark place mentally & physically, Because the game I love so much was taken away due to season ending surgery,” Waiters posted in July.

“Now a days with this social media ran world they laughed at me made jokes etc not knowing what I was battling or going through everyday. So instead of me joining the circus I told myself you from (Philly) you’ve been through worst s--- in your life than this. So I promise myself I would work my a-- off & get back to where I was before the injury.”

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©2019 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

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