Dion Waiters returned to practice Saturday with the Miami Heat at AmericanAirlines Arena. That’s the first time he’s been on the court since prior to the November 7 game in Phoenix.
He had been suspended for 10 games, for what the Heat called “conduct detrimental to the team,” following the team’s season-opening win against the Memphis Grizzlies on October 23.
Waiters says in a statement, “I would like to apologize to my teammates, coaches, basketball staff, the fans and the entire organization for the incident that happened on the team plane. I was wrong and take responsibility for what happened and am sorry for what it put everyone through. I am happy to be back with my teammates and am looking forward to getting back on the court playing basketball.”
Waiters was suspended by the Heat on November 9, retroactive to a road loss one night earlier to the Los Angeles Lakers, due to an incident on the team flight involving a marijuana-based edible.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra says of Waiters, “His conditioning is at least at a level where we can work with him and get him to the next step. And we just want to put this all behind us, get him with the team, and move on from here.”
He adds, “Look, we’ve had enough time around each other, we understand that a lot of things happen over the course of an NBA season. What we discussed in the sanctuary of our locker room, I just want to keep between us. But we want to move on from this and get him back with the team.”
Waiters’ 10-game suspension ended with the team’s Friday night victory over the Golden State Warriors.
It is unknown when he will actually join teammates on the bench for a game.
The Heat’s Goran Dragic says of Waiter, “He’s a part of the team. He’s a great teammate. We want him back. Of course, we’re going to see what kind of shape he’s in. And from there on, we’re going to work for him, especially to get him in better shape, try to get him in in rhythm. And then we’ll see.”
Waiters lost $913,000 of his $12.1 million salary due to two suspensions, in addition to a $1.2 million bonus he would have received for appearing in at least 70 games this season. The National Basketball Players Association has already filed an appeal over those lost wages, but not over the lost bonus.
Waiters has this season and next season, at $12.7 million, remaining in his four-year free-agency contract with the Heat, which he signed in 2016.