The two Joshes are on their way back for the Miami Heat, giving coach Erik Spoelstra a bunch of interesting lineup options.
Guard Josh Richardson has been medically cleared to return from a sprained MCL, according to a source, and could make his debut Friday against Toronto or Monday at Oklahoma City.
Doctors have pronounced him fully healed from the September injury, which did not require surgery.
“I just know I feel pretty good,” Richardson said Friday.
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Is he 100 percent? “I'm up there, getting close,” he said.
Meanwhile, forward/center Josh McRoberts – who has been dealing with a foot injury – said he could play as soon as Friday, if needed.
“I always think I’m ready,” he said. “I haven’t been ready to this point. I’m getting closer.”
Both Richardson and McRoberts participated in Friday’s shootaround at Air Canada Centre, but coach Erik Spoelstra said he did not know if either would play against the Raptors.
Richardson “was able to go through everything today,” Spoelstra said. “That's a good sign. We have to keep on working and making sure he's getting stronger, getting better conditioned and not feeling any pain.”
Richardson, a very good defender, was perhaps the most pleasant surprise of the entire 2015 NBA Draft. Selected 40th overall, he shot 46.1 percent from three-point range and became a key rotation piece during the second half of the season.
After the season, Spoelstra “told me he has a lot of faith of me, he sees another level I can hit,” Richardson said.
The Heat encouraged him to work on his ball-handling and play-making during the summer, and Spoelstra said there was clear progress there before he was injured in late September after landing awkwardly after a dunk in an informal workout.
Spoelstra said there has been clear improvement in Richardson’s playmaking. “We ran a ton of pick and rolls with him in
summer league and playing him off the ball, off screens,” Spoelstra said.
“He put in a tremendous amount of work and I thought he was one of the most improved players in the Orlando summer league. He's coming in so confident and expanded his versatility, which is what we wanted.”
Richardson said his ball-handling is “way better. Having a big role in summer league helped me a lot. It was like me and Justise [Winslow] were leading the team. Having the ball in my hands was good for me. I think I’ve gotten better seeing things before they happen, anticipating where guys should be. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to become more of a playmaker.”
Richardson could be used at point guard, shooting guard and small forward and said he’s equally comfortable at all three.
As for McRoberts, the foot injury was the latest ailment during an injury-plagued Heat tenure. Entering Friday, he had played in just 59 of a possible 168 regular-season games with the Heat, though some of those missed games were Spoelstra’s decision, as opposed to injuries.
“It sucks, but you guys stay on me enough for being hurt, so I don't have to be on myself,” McRoberts said, good-naturedly, to three reporters Friday morning.
“I got hurt playing hard for the Miami Heat. It happens. It's part of the game. I've been lucky enough to go how many years, 26, 27 years without having to miss too much time. I had a string of bad luck with the injuries but hopefully will be done with that.”
McRoberts, a natural power forward, expects to play center primarily this season.
“The way we play, I don't think it really matters that much,” he said. “Me guarding [centers] defensively, but I don't think it really matters how we play offense.”
Because McRoberts missed all of preseason, some of his new teammates will need to adjust to his unselfish game, which includes passes from all angles.
“Playing with some of the guys I've played with, probably the unit I'll be in, guys know how I play a little bit,” he said. “There's always somewhat of an adjustment.”
Asked whether it was frustrating to not have two potential rotation pieces to start the season, Spoelstra said: “Welcome to the NBA. It's not frustrating. It's not my first year coaching. I don't think I've ever had a year where the rotation, top eight or nine, are set in stone day one. That's why you try to build depth.”
• Guard Wayne Ellington remains out with a quad contusion. Spoelstra said he “still hasn't been able to participate in any of these kind of workouts. He is getting better but he hasn't progressed to contact work.”
For my post from earlier this morning, with some numbers reflecting how Dwyane Wade leaving has affected the Heat’s popularity, please click here.... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz