The Miami Heat is not only down another key rotation player, it’s also down to just one true point guard.
A league source late Tuesday confirmed a Yahoo! Sports report that backup point guard Beno Udrih, who had done a steady job behind Goran Dragic, will have season-ending surgery on his right foot later this week.
The Heat has yet to confirm the news.
Udrih, acquired from Memphis in the Mario Chalmers trade in November, was hurt in the first half of Monday’s overtime win against the Indiana Pacers. The Heat (32-24) said X-rays on Udrih’s foot were negative but said he was due to have an MRI on Tuesday afternoon.
Udrih, 33, averaged 4.4 points, 2.5 assists and 1.2 turnovers in 16.3 minutes per game in his 36 games with the Heat. His loss leaves Miami at 10 healthy rotation players with forward Chris Bosh (blood clot) out indefinitely and combo guard Tyler Johnson unsure if he’ll be back this season as he recovers from left shoulder surgery.
The Heat, which got under the luxury tax threshold right before the trade deadline, could sign a player to a 10-day contract to help fill the void. Options include John Lucas III and Tony Wroten.
If the team signs a player to the veteran’s minimum before March 8 it would push the Heat back over the tax threshold.
In the meantime, coach Erik Spoelstra said earlier Tuesday the team would likely use rookie combo guard Josh Richardson and forward Josh McRoberts in a point guard-type role if Udrih had to miss time.
“J-Rich has gotten some minutes in January and we’re not throwing him out there,” Spoelstra said. “He understands what we’re looking for. He fits on that side of the floor. He can handle as a combo guard. Then, if you have other guys like Dwyane [Wade], Justise [Winslow] or J-Mac on the floor with him he doesn’t have to feel the full responsibilities of the point guard position.”
McRoberts, who has been plagued with knee injuries throughout his first season and a half with the Heat, has averaged 10.7 points, 5.0 rebound and 5.0 assists and 23.6 minutes since the All-Star break. McRoberts said his knees have felt better and he’s getting into a rhythm.
Richardson played well for the Heat in wins Friday and Saturday over Atlanta and Washington with Wade out and made several noteworthy defensive plays against the Wizards.
“He’s got a big upside,” Wade said. “I think the one thing he came in and focused on is kind of like what Justise [Winslow] did when he first started — the defensive end of the floor, cause some havoc. The kid doesn’t give up. We’re confident in the guy. It’s what we’ve got to do. Next guy has to step in. Whatever your game is, you do that. We hope Beno gets back when he’s healthy. But the next guy up [in the meantime].”
Udrih was on a one-year contract so this could effectively end his tenure with the Heat.