When Dion Waiters first arrived in Miami, he showed signs of becoming the player the Cleveland Cavaliers envisioned when they made him the No. 4 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. He had a memorable game-winning 3-pointer over the mighty Golden State Warriors, won a Player of the Week Award and was instrumental in the Heat's second-half turnaround as they chased a playoff spot.
Unfortunately, he went down with an ankle injury and missed the final 13 games of the 2016-17 season, the Heat missed the playoffs and things have only gotten worse for him from there. More injury problems limited him to 30 games in 2017-18, and just 44 games last season. This season, he's yet to suit up for a game, and earlier this week wasin two months.
The Heat officially announced that the six-game suspension was due to "failure to adhere to team policies, violation of team rules and continued insubordination." That language is intentionally vague, but now we have a big part of the story behind the Heat's decision. According to a report from Five Reasons Sports Network, which was confirmed by the Miami Herald, Waiters called out sick, then later posted a picture of himself enjoying some time on a boat.
The ongoing six-game suspension, which runs through Dec. 23, was - as fivereasonssports first reported - partly the byproduct of Waiters posting Instagram pictures of himself on a boat during a period last week when he told the team he was unable to practice or play because of an illness.
A source on Sunday confirmed to The Miami Herald that the boat incident was a factor in this latest suspension but not the only one.
There have been more than a half dozen team violations by Waiters this season, including complaining on the bench during the preseason finale, refusing to do a required weigh-in and several inappropriate posts on social media.
Waiters' Instagram page is now private, and the photo seems to have been wiped from the internet, which means we unfortunately can't see what sort of boat he was on, nor what he was up to on said boat. Which, to be fair, is an important factor here. It's one thing to head out on the water to try and relax and feel better. It's another entirely to be partying on a yacht when you're supposedly sick.
Everyone has pretended to be sick to get out of work before (except me, bosses who may be reading this, haha) -- but Waiters just has to be smarter than this. When you're already on thin ice and have been suspended twice this season, you have to stay off social media while you're faking sick. It's really not that hard to do.
The bad news for Waiters is that his price for being online while away from the team may lead the end of his time in Miami. In Barry Jackson's report on the suspension for the Herald, he notes that the Heat are stepping up their attempts to get rid of Waiters, including exploring the possibility of just buying out the rest of his contract. With no teams interested in trading for the embattled guard, that might end up being their only option. If so, it would be a disappointing end to Waiters' time in Miami, which started out with so much promise.