Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and Hassan Whiteside said Friday they aren’t sure when Whiteside will return from a painful bone bruise on his left knee, but Whiteside said he won’t play again until he has healed 100 percent.
That likely will take at least two weeks, potentially longer.
“It’s going to take time,” Whiteside said after an MRI revealed a second bruise to the left knee in less than two months.
What’s more, the initial bone bruise sustained Oct. 18 still has not healed, suggesting he could be out an extended period.
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“I’m frustrated by it,” he said. “But I’m not missing months. I’m not missing a significant amount of time. It could be worse. You’ve got guys missing a year plus out there. I’m relieved I don’t have to go through that stuff.”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said rookie Bam Adebayo will start at center in Whiteside’s absence.
Whiteside will undergo rehabilitation on the knee for the next week to two.
Whiteside said he won’t play again “until it’s totally healed. Wait until I’m totally 100 percent.”
Whiteside said he “kind of rushed things before” when he returned from a bone bruise in the season opener after missing five games. That injury has lingered and the pain was compounded by a second bone bruise sustained in a recent game against Boston.
“I don’t want to come back and be a watered down Hassan and people looking at me crazy like what’s wrong with Hassan?” he said. “Why isn’t he playing at this level or whatever? I don’t want to even risk that.’
“I knew I wasn’t feeling like myself and it was really bothering me and I felt slower than I normally have. I will miss a little bit of time. Maybe trying to play through it could have had an effect on it.”
Asked a realistic target for a return, he said: “Only time will tell. Hopefully, next couple weeks I can just rest and get healthy. Maybe trying to play through it could have had an effect on it.”
Whiteside said he will “wear a brace to take the pressure off bone on bone. It will make a little bit of space to get as much blood to heal.”
Whiteside said he doesn’t remember how he sustained the bone bruise against Boston.
“I just knew [after Wednesday’s] Cleveland game this is not me. I cannot move. I’m better than this.”
Still, Whiteside said he is “very blessed” that an MRI revealed no structural damage.
“Everyone doesn’t get those chances, where I don’t need surgery,” he said. “I’m not out months at a time. I’m not missing years of playing. A lot of guys have to go through that.”
Whiteside missed Wednesday’s game against the Knicks with the current bone bruise, and Miami is 2-4 in games without him.
His replacement, Adebayo, is averaging 5.3 points and 3.9 rebounds in 12 games, including four starts.
He had 19 points and six rebounds in 18 minutes against Cleveland on Tuesday, shooting 7 for 7 from the field.
Against the Knicks on Wednesday, Adebayo had nine points, five rebounds and two steals, shooting four for five from the field in 30 minutes. But his defense was uneven in that game.
"I like the progress," Spoelstra said of Adebayo. "Look, he makes mistakes too. He’s not doing everything perfectly.
“He is really trying to apply everything he is learning while he is going through that process of learning our system, learning our culture, learning the NBA game. It doesn’t clutter his mind from bringing the thing he is best at, and that’s his energy, his athleticism, his multiple efforts. Those things are his foundation and he’s growing in all the other areas."
Kelly Olynyk’s minutes also will rise in Whiteside’s absence.
Players guarded by Adebayo are shooting 49.2 percent against him, compared with 44.6 percent against Whiteside. Players guarded by Olynyk are shooting 51.2 percent against him.
Spoelstra said the Heat’s defensive system will not change without Whiteside, though Adebayo and Olynyk aren’t nearly the shot-blockers nor defensive deterrents that Whiteside is.
“It’s going to be tough,” Whiteside said of Adebayo’s challenge in the Heat’s defensive system. “It’s definitely a tough defense. Our defense is tough, especially at the five position. I am going to try to give him as much advice as I can.”
Spoelstra said there could be rotation changes in how he uses his bench.
On the team’s inconsistent play, Spoelstra said: “It’s taking painstaking time and we are learning our lessons from losses. We will get it. That’s just the way this team is. We will continue to work at it until the dots connect a little more consistently.”
He called the team’s poor performance against the Knicks “perplexing.”