Erik Spoelstra dismisses reports of rift with Hassan Whiteside

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Hassan Whiteside failed to live up to his huge contract last season as he played way below his best.

It led to Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra losing faith in the big man as he often benched him in fourth quarters.

The center was outplayed by rival Joel Embiid in the first round of the playoffs and saw his minutes decrease as a result.

The veteran played his fewest minutes per game since joining the team in 2014.

He hit out at Spoelstra to not giving him enough of a chance on the floor and reports emerged soon after that series that his days in Miami could be numbered.

But he still remains a Heat player and coach Spo recently played down rumours of a rift between himself and Whiteside.

He says they’ve been in contact during the offseason and aren’t paying attention to what’s being speculated on the outside.

"I have absolutely been in touch with Hassan," Spoelstra said, according to the Palm Beach Post's Tom D'Angelo.

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"We've gotten together for lunch, in constant contact on the phone and in texts.

“Like many things in this league, it's not what it seems on the outside. It's pretty normal NBA life.

“I'm looking forward to the start of the season with a healthy Hassan.

“I know he's looking forward to that. And we still have a good part of the summer to get better."

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This is the first indication that the 28-year-old may possibly stay with the Heat next season but it still wouldn’t surprise anybody if he’s traded.

However, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald has reported that the franchise has struggled to find a team willing to take on his big contract and it’s likely that they’ve accepted they can’t offload him.

He’s set to make over $52 million over the next two years and in this current NBA era, teams are certainly not prepared to give away that type of money for a big that can’t shoot.

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Spoelstra often benched Whiteside and favoured Kelly Olynyk at center as he can spread the floor and is a good passer.

With the league largely going small, bigs are having to develop an outside shot to stay relevant and Whiteside hasn’t done so yet.

If he does remain in south beach, fans will at least hope he gets back to the player he was a couple of years ago and is a dominant two-way force once again.

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