A day after losing Justise Winslow to season-ending shoulder surgery, Heat general manager Andy Elisburg said the team has reached out to the league office and has applied for a $1.3 million Disabled Player Exception.
The exception, Elisburg explained, can be used on a free agent or to acquire a player in the final year of their contract through a trade or waiver claim, but cannot be used on a player making an excess of $1.3 million. It also can’t be used until the Heat has an available roster spot.
At the moment, Miami can’t use the exception because the roster is at the league maximum of 15 players and because the team doesn’t qualify for the NBA hardship waiver, which would open up a 16th spot, but requires at least four players to be injured at the same time for an extended amount of time.
Elisburg said the Heat would have until March 10th to use the exception.
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A roster spot could open up before then if the Heat decide to apply for salary-cap relief from Chris Bosh’s contract after Feb. 9, the one-year anniversary of his last game. Team president Pat Riley said prior to the season the Heat was no longer working toward Bosh’s return after he failed a physical in his ongoing battle with blood clots.
The disabled player exception also cannot be combined with any other exception including whatever cap relief the Heat would get if it were to release Bosh.
Bosh, Winslow and Josh McRoberts (stress fracture in left foot) are the three players on the roster currently sidelined indefinitely. McRoberts, however, could still return this season. The Heat would need a fourth player to go down with a significant injury to apply for the hardship waiver.
▪ Coach Erik Spoelstra said the team called Winslow on FaceTime after shootaround on Friday.
“He's already on the rebound right now,” Spoelstra said.
Spoelstra said team physican Dr. Harlan Selesnick, who performed the surgery to repair the torn labrum in Winslow’s right shoulder, flew to Los Angeles to present the team with the medical report. Spoelstra said he’s preached patience to Winslow, who expressed his disappointment after surgery Thursday about having to miss the rest of the season.
“He’s a very mature young man,” Spoelstra said. “He understands the big picture. It doesn’t make it any less painful being out the rest of the season. Guys want to be out there and play. He put in a lot of time in the off-season to prepare for this year and there’s a lot of things in this game that you can't control. But you can control your mindset and your approach with the hand you've been dealt from here on out.
“So right now it’s just about recovery for the next six weeks and rest and then at that point we’ll be able to start the process of building his body back.”
▪ Center Hassan Whiteside, who has been out with a bruised retina since being poked in his right eye late in last week’s loss at Boston, flew out to Los Angeles on Friday to rejoin his teammates.
Spoelstra said Whiteside wasn’t going to play against the Lakers, but the intention was to get him ready for Sunday’s game against the Clippers here. He said Whiteside is cleared to play without any protective eye wear.
▪ Guard Dion Waiters, who returned to action Wednesday in Sacramento after missing 20 games with a groin tear, said he remains on a 10-to-15 minutes restriction.
“Yeah, I don’t like it,” he said. “If you ask me, I think I can play 35 minutes right now. It is what it is right now, man. I’ll just roll with the punches, I guess.”
▪ Point guard Goran Dragic spent his off-day in Los Angeles Thursday afternoon visiting the City of Hope cancer treatment and research center visiting with children and doctors. It’s an issue near and dear to him.
“My grandma died from cancer and I just want to be involved,” he said. “This was a great opportunity to go on campus. They showed me everything they’re doing there and of course I got to see some patients and raise their spirits, give them my energy. It was tough to see those kids, but I was glad that I did it.”
Thursday night, Dragic attended the UCLA-California basketball game with his agent, his first college game ever.
The highlight for Dragic? “I got to see Snoop Dogg for the first time,” he said.