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ASK IRA: Could there yet be a Spoelstra-Whiteside Heat divorce?

Q: So Erik Spoelstra is stuck with Hassan Whiteside for next year. When I say stuck I mean from the way Spoelstra obviously feels about Whiteside’s game. I personally feel the problem is more on Spoelstra’s inability or stubbornness to effectively utilize a big. — Joel.

A: Which to me raises this question: Could there be a point where Hassan says enough is enough and opts out after this season? Personally, I can’t fathom him bypassing his $27 million player option for 2019-20. But the market also will be flush with cash this summer, so what if there is a four-year, $80 million deal available something (something his agent would have to be made aware of before the late-June option deadline)? I’m not saying the Heat are pushing Hassan out the door, but it does seem as if there is little faith in the moments of truth. Mostly likely, it will be another season of more of the same, of continuing to see what the team has in Bam Adebayo. But it is somewhat odd that the player deemed good enough to start is not deemed good enough to see any action late. And it’s not as if he is having a bad season.

Q: Why can’t the Heat teach Hassan Whiteside how to set effective screens? It’s no wonder that Erik Spoelstra plays Bam Adebayo in crunch time. He frees up our 3-point shooters with his solid screens. It appears to me that Whiteside leaves the screens early so that he can get a lob in order to dunk the ball. Am I the only one who sees this? — Irwin.

A: No, the coaching staff is more than aware, which is why Erik Spoelstra makes a point of noting the games when Hassan is effective with his screening. And he certainly could be better and needs to be better in that regard. But it’s not as if any of the Heat big men are five-tool players, don’t have their flaws. For whatever reason, it just appears as if Hassan is hard for Spoelstra to coach.

Q: Looking back at LeBron James‘ post-Heat career, I can confidently say that he did us a solid. He saved us from the circus show that he built in perpetuity after he solidified himself as a champion. We had humble, hungry, objective LeBron. LeBron is now far from that. Good luck, buddy– H.P., Fort Lee, N.J.

A: But that’s part of dealing with elite players and championship contention. Look at the circus that the Warriors have become. That’s part of life at the top. I am sure the Heat would have been willing to put up with just about anything and everything had LeBron returned. Certainly in retrospect. Follow him at or

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