Heat forward James Johnson is still unsure whether he will be on the active roster for Wednesday’s opener against the Grizzlies at AmericanAirlines Arena.
Johnson, who has served as one of the Heat’s captains in each of the past two seasons, was away from the team for the first 10 days of training camp and the preseason after failing to meet the Heat’s conditioning requirements. He returned to the team on Oct. 11 and has been a part of practices, but did not play in any of the five preseason games despite being available for the final three.
“No indications yet,” Johnson said following Tuesday’s practice when asked if he has been told whether he will be on the active roster for the opener. “But I’m still not at the goal that we spoke about. We’re going to get there and see if I can get there by tomorrow.”
Johnson, 32, has hinted in recent days that he’s close to meeting the Heat’s standards for weight and body fat. But it’s unlikely he will play Wednesday after missing the entire preseason.
“I’m right there,” Johnson said Sunday. “After that, it’s all up to the coaches and the coaching staff of when I’m really going to get back. But I’m right there, man. I got a little bit more to push.”
Before the conditioning issue, there was optimism that a full healthy offseason would lead to a rejuvenated Johnson.
Johnson missed the first 15 games of last season because of May 2018 sports hernia surgery, and eventually lost his spot in the starting lineup and at one point even fell out of the rotation. He finished with averages of 7.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists while shooting 43.3 percent from the field and 33.6 percent from from three-point range in 55 games (33 starts).
If Johnson is not on the active roster for the opener, both of the Heat’s two-way contract players, forward Chris Silva and guard Daryl Macon, could be active against the Grizzlies.
NBA teams can have up to 13 active players for each game. With Udonis Haslem (sprained left wrist) and Dion Waiters (one-game suspension) ruled out, an inactive Johnson would leave the Heat having to list Silva and Macon on the active roster to get to 13 players.
Either way, coach Erik Spoelstra seems to have a good idea of the rotation he will use Wednesday.
“We’ve used the preseason to evaluate and develop habits,” Spoelstra said. “All of that, I have a pretty good grasp of the direction I’m going to start in. Then I’m open to whatever is necessary as the season goes on.”