Tyler Johnson said he’s looking forward to being able to play pain free.
Whether that happens this season or next remains to be seen.
The Heat’s second-year combo guard, who had surgery Wednesday in Miami to repair a torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder, told the Miami Herald on Sunday he’s going to try and come back for the playoffs in mid April, but there’s no guarantee he’ll be healthy enough or ready to contribute.
“The doctors said it’s going to be two to three months before I can resume contact,” Johnson said. “It’s a possibility [I could be back for the playoffs]. But we’ve just got to see.
“Again, we’re not trying to rush it back. If it feels healthy by then, and I’m actually able to contribute and not just be out there trying to figure it out during the playoffs, [then I’ll play]. [The playoffs are] not the time to try and figure out if you can go. If there’s a couple practices before it, I’ll try and practice and figure out what I can do.”
The Heat’s regular season ends April 13 and the NBA playoffs begin the weekend of April 16. Johnson, who had surgery on Feb. 3, would be 10 weeks into his recovery by then.
Alhough Johnson struggled earlier this season when pressed into starting point guard duty with Goran Dragic and Beno Udrih out, his overall numbers — 8.7 points and 2.2 assists, while shooting 48.8 percent from the field and 38.6 percent from three-point range — were good enough to make him a valuable asset off the bench.
The Heat could opt to find a guard on the market, but would likely need to drop D-League All-Star forward Jarnell Stokes to make room on the roster.
Whiteside comes off bench again
Hassan Whiteside returned from a hip injury this week, but he has yet to take back his role in the starting lineup.
Amar’e Stoudemire, who replaced the injured Whiteside in Toronto on Jan. 22, started Sunday for the ninth straight game.
The Heat fell to 6-3 with Stoudemire in the starting five after Sunday’s 100-93 loss to the Clippers.
Whiteside recorded a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds in 17 minutes against the Clippers, but he did not play in the fourth quarter. Coach Erik Spoelstra pulled Whiteside with 1:10 to go in the third after Whiteside twisted his left ankle.
The 26-year-old center has averaged 10 points and 9.7 rebounds per game since he returned to action on Wednesday against Dallas. On Friday against the Hornets, he posted his fourth career triple-double.
Before Sunday’s game, Clippers coach Doc Rivers spoke about the challenges of managing a player who moves from a starting role to the bench.
“You just have to,” Rivers said. “I also came from Boston, where [former Celtics] Kevin McHale and John Havlicek played. And so it’s not that hard for me to see that you can be a guy that comes off the bench and you can make a lot of money. I’ve seen Kevin McHale’s house, you know? I know he’s done well.
“It’s a sell, though. It really is, and especially for a young kid. But at the end of the day, if you’re winning, it’s hard to say anything.”
Miami Herald sportswriter Manny Navarro contributed to this report.