Josh McRoberts is back on the Miami Heat’s injury list with a stress fracture in his left foot – the same foot he broke in Game 6 versus Toronto in last year’s playoffs – and it’s unclear when or if he’ll be back this season.
“J-Mac is out and he’ll be out indefinitely,” coach Erik Spoelstra announced Tuesday morning. “Once we get a plan of action and when there’s another update, we’ll give it to you. I feel for Josh right now. He wants to be out there. He was starting to get into a great rhythm. We’ll use all of our resources to come up with a solution for him.”
McRoberts, 29, said the fracture is in a different spot on his foot than the previous break.
“I think it happened probably a couple weeks back. I just tried to get through it,” he said. “Eventually it wasn’t getting much better and they just took a look at it and figured it out what it was.
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“I don't think this one is quite as bad as the one I had in the past, which I guess is the silver lining to it,” he continued. “I think we caught it a little bit sooner than the other one.”
McRoberts, who is in the third year of a four-year, $22.6 million deal with the Heat that includes a $6 million player option next season, said he doesn’t think the injury is career-threatening and believes he will be back this season.
Before this latest setback, McRoberts had started 14 consecutive games and was finally beginning to become a more reliable option over the past month. Knee injuries forced him to miss 88 games combined over his first two seasons with the tea before he broke his foot in the playoffs.
After missing the first seven games of the season as he recovered from a setback in his foot, McRoberts returned to action on Nov. 12 and struggled to find his shot, making only eight of his first 36 shot attempts in his first nine games primarily as a reserve. But over his last 13 games, he averaged 21 minutes a game, shot 44.4 percent from the field and made 50 percent of his three-point attempts (13 of 26) and averaged 6.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists.
Spoelstra said McRoberts was helping to provide a more “conventional lineup” for the Heat at the start of games. Spoelstra has then gone to smaller lineups deeper in games. Tuesday against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Derrick Williams took McRoberts’ spot in the starting lineup.
To this point Spoelstra has preferred to have Tyler Johnson and James Johnson anchor the bench. They are the second-highest scoring duo in the league without a start this season (24.0 points per game) behind only the Lakers’ Lou Williams and Larry Nance Jr. (25.7). But Spoelstra said prior to Tuesday’s game “one of these days I may have to.”
“We'll play our versatility, which we already have been doing quite a bit,” Spoelstra said when asked what he might do with the starting lineup moving forward. “Who we start? I don't know. And like I said, before [whoever starts] it might not be in cement.”
During training camp in the Bahamas, McRoberts said he was tired of being “the big white guy who got hurt all the time.”
He missed 24 games last season with a right knee bruise and another two games for rehabilitative recovery according to the team’s media guide. In his first season with the Heat, McRoberts suffered a torn meniscus on Dec. 9 and missed the final 61 games of the season. He missed 62 total that season officially because of injury.
To date, he’s played in only 81 of a possible 165 regular season games for the Heat.
“It's always frustrating, always disappointing, but you try to stay as strong as you can and get through it, keep things in perspective,” McRoberts said. “It could be a whole lot worse. It's an injury and I'll be back.”
The Heat (10-21) ranked third in the league on Dec. 18 in terms of games lost because of injury (84) according to the analytics website Man-Games Lost. That doesn’t include all the games 11-time All-Star Chris Bosh has missed after he failed a physical prior to the season because of his ongoing battle with blood clots.
“It’s unfortunate... because I want the fans to see the whole team and they haven’t,” said center Hassan Whiteside, who is the only Heat player who has suited up for every game this season. “It’s hard to base a team when you got guys coming in and out. You lose chemistry. Guys lose game rhythm. There’s a lot that goes into that, so it’s unfortunate for a lot of people and a lot of things.
“Whatever guys are out there, I try to work with them and build some chemistry. Once I start building chemistry with Dion, Dion goes down. Once I start building more chemistry with J-Mac, he goes down. It’s frustrating at times, but you got to be a professional about it and just come out here and try to play to the best of my ability.”
▪ Point guard Goran Dragic, who has been dealing with back spasms since the first quarter of Friday’s loss at New Orleans, was held out Tuesday.
“It’s still locked up. It’s sore,” said Dragic, the Heat’s leading scorer who has averaged 22.3 points and 7.3 assists since returning from an elbow injury on Nov. 28. “I’m going to try to loosen it up. But it’s still the same. I’m still positive. They say it can get unlocked any time.”