The Heat might be very close to getting Rodney McGruder back.
While Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Monday the forward would not yet be available for the Heat’s final two games before the All-Star break, McGruder went through his first full practice since undergoing left tibia surgery before the season.
Spoelstra said McGruder did 5-on-5 work in practice for the first time Monday, which was the major difference in workload from what he had done previously.
“I know how important it was for him to be out here to actually be 5-on-5,” Spoelstra said. “He competed in the Hunger Games [what Spoelstra calls intense practice work], and he was fully in the mix.”
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Spoelstra said he wouldn’t be available for the Heat’s back-to-back games in Toronto and Philadelphia on Tuesday and Wednesday.
But a return soon or even immediately after the All-Star break appears possible with the Heat having a week off until its next practice on Feb. 21 and two more days before it plays its ensuing game in New Orleans (Feb. 23).
McGruder could conceivably get more practices in during that time.
“Don’t ask him because if you ask him, he’ll say he can,” Spoelstra joked. “We’ll see. Today was a good step. I can’t even answer the next step until we find out how he responds tomorrow. I mean this was a pretty big workload today.”
McGruder averaged 6.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game last season while shooting 41.3 percent overall and 33.2 percent from three-point range.
It’s unclear where exactly McGruder will fit in the Heat’s rotation of versatile wing players Dwyane Wade, Josh Richardson, Tyler Johnson, Wayne Ellington and Justise Winslow.
“He’s going to bring energy, man,” Hassan Whiteside said. “He’s going to bring even more life. He’s a guy who’s going to do all the right things, 100 percent on every play and that’s contagious.”
Whiteside said McGruder was already bringing that kind of high energy in practice on Monday.
“We can be like, ‘All right, Rod, we just going to go through this light’ and he’s just going full speed and like, ‘Naw, man. We not live yet,’” Whiteside said. “You can tell he’s ready to get to the rim, man. … You can tell he misses basketball a lot.”
NOT YET ON OLYNYK
Spoelstra said Kelly Olynyk, who missed the past two games with a left shoulder strain, is making progress but will not play in the Heat’s next two games.
Spoelstra said Olynyk did not need to have an MRI, and the shoulder he injured in the first quarter against the Orlando Magic on Feb. 5, is getting better.
“We want to really treat him and make sure he’s continuing to make the progress he’s made the last few days,” Spoelstra said.