The Miami Heat didn't have Dion Waiters around for its playoff run.
There's no guarantee he'll be back for the start of training camp in September either.
Still recovering from season-ending left ankle surgery in January, team president Pat Riley said after Thursday’s NBA Draft that the Heat's 26-year-old starting shooting guard is making good progress, but remains uncertain of when he will be ready to play games.
“Dion had a CT scan the other day and his ankle is coming along extremely well,” Riley said. “So, that is a long process of rehab. He's been in Philadelphia for a while getting therapy. He's back in town now getting therapy. He was on the Ultra G today. So now I think the real rehab and conditioning come over the next three months as he gets his body back in shape and one day hopefully back on the court where he can run.”
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The Heat went on a 30-11 run at the end of the 2016-17 regular season with Waiters playing a big role throughout before he missed the final 13 games with an ankle injury. Waiters only played in 30 games this season and struggled with ankle discomfort before finally having surgery to "repair instability and a preexisting navicular bone fracture."
Riley said the original diagnosis for Waiters following surgery was six to nine months of recovery.
“He had three months or four months of just letting that thing heal and there's not much you can do with it other than the normal rehab and ankle movements, ankle therapy and that kind of stuff,” Riley said.
“We hope that he's ready for training camp. But we're not going to push that. What I'm saying is that from this point forward you have to get to another level of rehab and how much movement he can do actually. Putting weight on it remains to be seen. But the scan came out extremely well.”
▪ Forward James Johnson had surgery shortly after the season to repair a sports hernia and Riley said he believes “he will be definitely ready for training camp.”
“James Johnson is a tough player and person,” Riley said of Johnson, who played through the pain most of the season. “He’s mentally tough, physically tough. He plays through things all the time. I'm glad he was able to get it fixed.”
▪ Will there be an offer on the table for captain and 15-year veteran Udonis Haslem to return this summer?
“Absolutely,” Riley said. “Both Udonis and Dwyane [Wade]. They’ve been together forever and they also deserve the respect to sit and wait on this thing. And so there’s no rush. Besides, he’s becoming a entrepreneur. I can’t even talk to him anymore. I can invest with him, but I can’t get in touch with him.”
Haslem, 38, said recently he is willing to go overseas to get more playing time next season.
▪ The Heat has until June 30 until Rodney McGruder’s $1.5 million contract for next season becomes guaranteed. Will Miami do that?
“We’ll let you know,” Riley answered. “We have tight roster spots so we’ll let you know with whatever options we have. But we love Rodney, we love Rodney.”
▪ Riley was non-committal when asked if two-way guard Derrick Walton Jr. will receive a qualifying offer.
“Again that is something that will be decided at the appropriate time,” he said. “We qualified Derrick [Jones] because we think he has a real upside. But we’ll also see what the market is. He’s the kind of player we like. He’s got length, he’s got size and I think he showed enough to us last year that we want to continue to take a good look at him.”
▪ So how many Twitter burner accounts does Riley have? The question was posed after what happened with former 76ers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo, who parted ways with the team after it was learned his wife used fake accounts to discuss team business and make disparaging remarks about players.
“I still have this kind of phone that flips,” Riley said pointing to a tape recorder. “Is that what a burner phone looks like? I don't have any. I've tweeted one time. I do have a Twitter account – only because I need to follow a lot of people like you [the media], which is very interesting. I actually get alerts on all you guys.
“But I never tweeted out anything except one picture. My boss and his wife and myself and my wife and three championship trophies. I think it’s out there. I think I put it down as soon as I put it up. [Heat owner] Micky [Arison] is a pro.
“But no, I don't have that stuff. I don’t get into those kind of conversations. I really don't know how people do it. I understand how you have to do it. But I don't understand how the average person who wants to live a normal life gets into arguments with people they don't know. You need to do that. I don't need to do that.”