Miami Heat guard Dion Waiters has had a less-than-desirable start to the 2019-20 NBA season. After being handed a one-game suspension from the team on opening night after getting into it with head coach Erik Spoelstra, the talented, yet volatile scorer is facing his second team-mandated suspension of the season—a season that, keep in mind, is just nine games in.
The reason for his latest suspension? Waiters had a panic attack on a flight to LA last Thursday, courtesy of pot edibles.
Hey, it happens to the best of us. Sort of.
Blame it on the Edibles
According to a report from ESPN’ NBA stalwarts Brian Windhorst and Adrian Wojnarowski, Waiters suffered a panic attack on a team flight from Phoenix to Los Angeles ahead of the Heat’s showdown with LeBron James and the LA Lakers. The 27-year-old guard was listed as “out” for the game due to illness. He was allegedly treated by doctors once the plane touched down in Los Angeles.
“Waiters overdosed on ‘gummies’ sources say, and was passed out when plane landed,” an unnamed source told Miami journalist Andy Slater “He had a seizure when he was finally woken up, I’m told.”
Waiters previously missed the Heat’s Thursday night game against the Suns due to a stomach ache. According to ESPN’s report, Waiters consumed THC-infused gummies to treat the stomach ailment. THC, of course, is still on the NBA’s banned substance list.
The guard was then handed a 10-game suspension for repeated conduct deemed detrimental to the team— his second such suspension thus far in the early NBA season.
The 10-game ban, which was effective immediately in Miami’s game against the Lakers, comes with huge financial implications for the oft-maligned guard. He’s missing out on $835,000 in salary over the 10 games, bringing his season total to around $920,000. Additionally, Waiters is set to miss out on a $1.1 million roster bonus he would be eligible for had he played in 70 contests—a number he can no longer achieve, even if healthy.
A Unique, But Somehow Unsurprising Twist
There are some around Waiters, however, who believe the guard didn’t suffer a THC-induced anxiety attack.
B According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reported that a source close to Waiters believed that he didn’t even take a
“It’s notable that the ESPN report that Waiters suffered a panic attack, after reportedly ingesting a THC-infused gummy, has been disputed by a league source with direct knowledge,” Jackson wrote. “If that ‘panic attack’ information was given to ESPN by Paul — which wouldn’t be a stretch to conclude — it would serve Paul’s and Waiters’ interests by bringing the mental health issue into the equation.”
It’s unclear at the time if the panic attack was, in fact, real, or if the incident was as a carefully-thought-out ploy to force Miami’s hand in a potential Waiters trade. The guard currently has two years, $25 million left on his deal and has clashed with the Heat over playing time, dating back to last year. Waiters was fined at the end of last season for complaining about a lack of minutes.
There were also, reportedly, a few different reasons for the loft 10-game suspension— a number that is typically handed down from the league, not a team and its own player. According to Jackson, Waiters’ antics on the bench against Houston in the preseason finale, an outright refusal to participate in one of the Heat’s mandatory weigh-in, and thinly-veiled social media posts directed at head coach Erik Spoelstra and rookie sharpshooter Tyler Herro, who has essentially taken Waiters’ spot in the rotation.
According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, however, Miami hasn’t closed the door on a Waiters return and a buyout or trade remains unlikely.
“The Heat has let Dion Waiters know we need you back in this rotation, ” Charania said. “We want you to come back and earn your stripes.”
Waiters may or may not have to lay off on the edibles for that to happen. Of course, that’s contingent on if he even consumed them in the first place.