Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Dion Waiters and Justise Winslow looked good and showed no ill effects from their season-ending injuries last season in their first full practices back with the team Tuesday morning at Florida Atlantic University.
“He looks great,” Spoelstra said of Waiters. “He’s in very good shape. His speed is where it was when he was at his quickest last year if not better right now.
“[Winslow has] been scrimmaging for a while. It was important for him to get those live reps. You would never be able to tell by his aggressiveness that he brought to this practice that he was coming off any kind of injury anywhere on his body. People felt his presence.”
Waiters, who signed a four-year, $52 million deal this summer, revealed at Heat Media Day Monday he still feels discomfort in his left ankle, which he badly sprained and cost him the final 13 games of the regular season.
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“It’s aching a little bit. But if I take a little Tylenol, I’ll be alright,” Waiters said Tuesday. “It’s going to be a process. But we know what we got to do, so it’s manageable. We just got to make sure we keep our eye on it and just keep getting treatment.”
What treatments is Waiters doing?
“Stem, hot packs, ultrasound, just everything,” Waiters said. “Really, I need the whole thing. So I got to get up extra early now.”
What did Goran Dragic think of his backcourt mate on Waiters’ first official day back?
“He looks amazing to me,” Dragic said. “His ability to break down people and explode, he always had that. I didn’t even see that maybe he's feeling the ankle a little bit. You watch him, he’s the old Dion.”
Waiters said Monday he had the option of having surgery this summer, but opted against it.
Winslow, who missed the final 48 games of the season after right shoulder surgery, said his shoulder felt fine Tuesday. Winslow has been practicing and working out with his teammates for months.
“We did a couple of post-up drills and I was banging pretty hard and afterwards, I was like, ‘Wow, that was my right shoulder’,” Winslow said. “It felt fine. I didn’t feel anything, took some bumps, fell to the ground. Nothing.”
Winslow says he’s shed between 10 and 15 pounds this off-season so he could move faster on the court. He’s weighing in the low 220s. Last year he played at over 230 pounds. He said would like to “crack the teens” in terms of his weight before the end of the preseason.
“I felt pretty light, got up a couple of time in practice, dunking a little bit,” Winslow said. “So I do feel a difference, for sure. And I’m going to keep at it, try to get in the best shape possible as the season keeps going on, continue with diet, stretching, things I have been doing to get in that type of shape. So I felt pretty good, first day being back.”
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With 11 returning players from last season’s season-ending roster, Spoelstra said his hope in training camp is to be able to move faster than he had to a year ago when the roster was overhauled with many new faces that needed to learn the system.
“Today, for the first hour and 15 minutes it was a Miami Heat training camp feel,” Spoesltra said. “The rest of it was more of a practice and continuation. Some of the young guys, Sioux Falls guys just have to catch up. Everybody else was ready to go. Hopefully this is something we can build on and just fast track and move forward rather than really having to slow down.
“Does that mean that we’ll just forget about or sidestep the fundamentals? No. We’re going to put in the basics. Just based on today, it looks like we’ll be able to move much quicker than we were last year.”
▪ Spoelstra said Dragic, who led Slovenia to a gold medal earlier this month and spent a month-and-a-half working with the national team, will “be managed as we go” throughout the preseason.
“Today wasn’t really a scale-back day,” Spoelstra said. “We had a lot of subs on this team today so he didn’t have to go every rep. The idea was for him to go every other rep. Goran, I may have to step in on that. I’ll have to look at the film. But it definitely didn’t look like he even broke a sweat.”
Dragic said he still feels jet lag, but will go hard when he’s in action at practice.
“I feel like I’m one of those guys who needs to be an example for those young guys, for the rookies, it doesn’t matter,” Dragic said. “I’m tired but the best way to prevent jet lag is to practice. I went through the whole practice. I felt a little bit tired and now it’s nap time. So I’m going to have a good nap.”