The Miami Heat appear to be tightening the ship, and team captain Udonis Haslem is firmly on board.
Haslem, in the wake of Dion Waiters’ one-game suspension on Saturday, said the organization is focused on getting Miami’s young locker room together and back into a championship mentality ahead of its season opener on Wednesday.
“If everybody can’t get on the same page, then we got to kind of fix that situation,” Haslem said, via the Miami Herald. “The way we’ve been able to win championships in the past is everybody had the same mindset for the same goal and we all were able to figure it out. Those are the expectations that we have and that’s what we want to stick with.”
Waiters was suspended for the Heat’s season opener for “conduct detrimental to the team” on Saturday after “a number of unacceptable incidents” last week. The organization didn’t elaborate on what Waiters actually did.
However, according to the Miami Herald, there was a “disagreement” between Waiters and coach Eric Spoelstra on the bench during their 144-133 preseason loss to the Houston Rockets on Friday. The 27-year-old had two points and two rebounds in just 10 minutes in the loss.
Haslem, though, isn’t disappointed in Waiters, who is preparing to enter his eighth season in the league and his fourth in South Florida.
“I understand that through an NBA season you’re going to have some ups and downs and you’re going to deal with stuff,” Haslem said, via the Miami Herald. “Dion is our brother. We hope to get him back as soon as possible. I love Dion.”
Waiters’ suspension marks the latest move for the Heat this preseason. Miami sent veteran James Johnson home from training camp early after the former No. 16 overall draft pick failed to meet the team’s conditioning requirements.
With a younger locker room for the first time in a while — the team has seven rookies on its roster, including first-round draft pick Tyler Herro, and multiple others still on their rookie deals — Haslem said the messages being sent early this fall could be a good thing.
“It’s just getting to what we have built our name and our foundation on since I’ve been here. Just getting back to that,” Haslem said, via the Miami Herald. “Sometimes you just get back to the basics and to the core of who you are and what you are. With these new guys and so many young faces, I think it’s very important that they understand from the jump what we’re about.”
And in reality, given the lifestyles NBA players live, new Heat star Jimmy Butler said that staying focused really shouldn’t be that difficult.
“Our lives are really lavish, to tell you the truth,” Butler said, via the Miami Herald. “We come in here for three hours of practice. Then we have the rest of our day to do what we want. I mean, while you’re here, ain’t no distractions. You come in here and you be the best pro you can be. Keep it professional and compete. Hell, that’s all that Coach [Spoelstra] and Coach Riley, that’s all they want us to do. I think that should be easy for three hours.”
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