Miami Heat

Heat’s Okaro White out indefinitely with fractured left foot after freak injury

The Miami Heat is down another man.

Okaro White, who started four games at power forward, but hasn’t played since Nov. 6 at Golden State, will undergo surgery Thursday to repair a fracture of the fifth metatarsal bone his left foot, the Heat announced shortly before Wednesday’s home game against the Washington Wizards.

White (6-8, 215) said he felt his foot “pop” as he went up for a reverse layup in practice Tuesday. He has been ruled out indefinitely, a Heat spokesman said.

“[It was] like a freak accident,” White, 25, said. “I guess it was something that was building up and [Tuesday] it finally gave out... I heard it pop. It wasn’t like your bone is broken. It was kind of like you crack your knuckles. It was one of those kind of sounds.

“They actually haven’t really given me a set time [I’ll be out]. The only kind of time table they said was it will be a non-bearing injury after surgery. So, no pressure on it for four to six weeks.”

White, a second-year forward out Florida State, averaged 3.3 points, 1.8 rebounds, 13.3 minutes and shooting 43.8 percent from the field in six games this season.

He was basically a fill-in starter for four games as coach Erik Spoelstra shuffled through his starting lineup to try and find the right mix. White was replaced as the starter at power forward by Justise Winslow on Nov. 5 against the Clippers.

“We don’t neccessarily know [what happened],” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It happened in practice and it wasn’t like a crazy movement. He didn’t roll his foot. He just jumped.

“Sometimes these unfortunate things happen and I feel like I jinxed him. I was just commenting last week, looking at all of our asssessments, looking at how far he’s come, virtually all of his numbers have been in the green. He’s transformed his body. He’s gotten stronger. He’s fit. All of his functional movement was testing so great that it absolutely it just kills you when you see something like this happen.

“But he’s got a lot of resiliency. He’ll be back.”

The Heat luckily has plenty of depth in its frontcourt, and White was not a regular in the rotation, more of a player Spoelstra called on to play in spots. Thursday he’ll become the second player on the team to have surgery this season.

Miami lost starting small forward Rodney McGruder to a stress fracture in his left leg shortly before the season. McGruder had surgery last month and remains hopeful to return later this season. Unlike McGruder, White won’t be able to get on the floor and take shots as quickly as McGruder has.

“That's one thing I asked them, because the way Rodney's been able to walk around himself, they were like four to six weeks you can’t be like that,” White said. “[I’ve] never been injured more than the shoulder injury I had earlier [in the preseason]. Never any surgery, never been put under [anaesthesia], so it’s all new for me.

“Hopefully I wake back up.”

White’s teammates certainly felt bad for him too.

“It’s very tough to see, especially for somebody like Okaro,” guard Wayne Ellington said. “The same thing with Rodney, man. These guys put so much work in all offseason to prepare for the season and it’s always even tougher to see somebody who works like Okaro works or works like Rodney works.

“It’s tough to see a guy like that go down because you always want the best for them. You always want to see them be healthy and be able to help our team in whatever way we need them to. So it’s tough, man. It’s tough, it’s tough. I feel for him. But it’s just going to be a step for him to obviously go through it and make a stronger comeback.”

The Heat has called up both of its two-way players – guards Derrick Walton Jr. and Matt Williams Jr. – at diffrent points already this season. Spoelstra said there’s a chance one of those two players could be called up again to help provide depth.

“I’ll talk to Andy [Elisburg] and Pat [Riley Thursday],” Spoelstra said. ‘We have enough for tonight. We’ll figure it out. That’s why Sioux Falls is around.”

Miami Herald Sports Writer Andre C. Fernandez contributed to this report.

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