Hassan Whiteside was back on the court Friday night at Staples Center, running sprints and preparing for a possible return Sunday against the Los Angeles Clippers.
His right eye? Still sporting a red, streaky, blood-like bruise.
But after missing a week’s worth of action with a bruised retina, the Heat’s $98 million center is improving and itching to get back into games.
“It’s a lot better,” Whiteside said of his eye, which was scratched and bruised by the Celticsl Jae Crowder late in a loss in Boston a week ago. “The headaches went away. I’m not seeing double anymore. So, I can see a lot of better and a lot of pain went away.”
The double-vision subsided “probably like two or three days ago,” Whiteside said. The headaches? He still had a slight one Friday morning.
“But it's getting less and less,” he said of the headaches. “I think I’ll be fine soon.”
Doctors, Whiteside said, were initially worried if he got hit in the eye again it could require surgery. They would not allow him to fly. But after seeing another specialist on Wednesday he was cleared to return to the team.
“Thankfully, I didn’t have a detached retina so everything came out OK,” he said.
Coach Erik Spoelstra said Friday morning Whiteside would not be required to wear protective eye wear. Whiteside would prefer not too. He’s not a fan of the goggles players like Horace Grant used to wear.
“I might try it out,” Whiteside said. “But as of right now, I’m not.”
The question now is if he’ll be conditioned enough to play Sunday.
The Heat made Whiteside go through a pregame workout Friday. The team will practice Saturday in Los Angeles. If Whiteside makes it through that unscathed chances are very good he’ll play Sunday, Spoelstra said.
Willie Reed started in Whiteside’s place in the four games he’s missed.
The Heat (11-26) finally put an end to a six-game losing streak Wednesday in Sacramento. Whiteside watched the game and said he was proud of his teammates.
“It was good, man, watching them guys get that win,” he said. “The guys really competed. They did a great job on defense and getting out in transition. Even when the Kings made a run, they stayed mentally tough.”