Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra has asked Dion Waiters to be patient with his minutes following his return from injury.
The guard is back in the fold after being out for nearly a year with an ankle problem. And, since returning, he has featured in four games, playing 16.3 minutes a contest and averaging 8.3 points.
Waiters, one of the most outspoken players in Spoelstra's squad, has not been very happy with his playing time but says he's trying to remain positive.
.@MiamiHeat guard Dion Waiters waited more than a year to get back into an #NBA game. But even now that he has returned, he is learning that he still has to be patient. #HeatCulture #HeatNation pic.twitter.com/FJYo7efINA— FOX Sports Florida (@FOXSportsFL) January 14, 2019
"Sometimes in the games, I either play or I don't," he said, via the Sun-Sentinel this week. "So just being ready. It's kind of hard to wrap your mind around that because I haven't been in a situation like that before. Now I’m just trying to stay positive with that whole thing.
"I got to just try to figure out and try to control my emotions when things aren't going my way and stuff like that, just trying to figure it out and be positive when in that situation. Is it tough? Absolutely. I'm a competitor at the end of the day. The only thing is I want to be out there with my guys and I want to play. I feel like I can help the team."
Spoelstra has said that he likes the production he's been getting from the guard so far but has urged him to bide his time.
"My big word for him is patience," the coach said. "But I like the work that's been putting in, and the minutes that he's played have been good and important for us."
Spoelstra adds that Miami's strength is their depth and versatility, and he wants to continue using that to the team's advantage.
"We've had a lot of games where it's different guys on different nights," he remarked. "I've said it time and time again, it takes an emotionally stable team, a mindful team to understand the big picture that it's not a cliché - the strength of our roster is our depth and our versatility, and we fully intend on using that.
"And to be able to fully utilize depth, that means it's different guys sometimes in different minutes."
What This Means
Waiters was the Heat's go-to guy before going down injured and his road to recovery has been a long and difficult one.
Now back to full health, the guard wants to be out on the court every minute he can, but coach Spo isn't ready to hand him major minutes just yet and he doesn't want to disrupt the flow which has been working quite well for the team lately.
The 27-year-old will get his chance, the Heat are going to need him and he needs to remain ready. Also, with Dwyane Wade set to retire from basketball at the end of the season, Waiters will likely be called upon to lead the team; patience really is the key for him.