Dwyane Wade missed his first game of the season Thursday night against the Utah Jazz to be with his son, Zion, 8, who was hospitalized with an undisclosed injury.
“His son is OK, he’s fine,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said before tipoff. “But Dwyane is going to be with him. Everybody else is ready to go. Dwyane will have a statement when he’s ready.”
Wade, 33, has two sons and also has custody of a nephew. The Heat did not reveal the hospital where Wade’s son was a patient.
Wade’s absence opened the door for rookie Josh Richardson to make his first career start.
With Wade out and Gerald Green serving the final game of a team-imposed two-game suspension, the Heat took on the Jazz with only four guards: Richardson, point guard Goran Dragic, second-year two-guard Tyler Johnson and newly acquired veteran guard Beno Udrih.
EAGER TO LEARN
Udrih didn’t get a chance to chat with reporters before Thursday’s game, but the other player acquired in Tuesday’s trade with Memphis — 21-year-old, 6-9, 255-pound power forward Jarnell Stokes — said he’s happy to be a member of the Heat.
“When you haven’t proven yourself exactly, you can always be moved, so I wasn’t surprised,” said Stokes, who averaged 3.0 points, 1.8 rebounds and 0.3 blocks last season in 19 games with Memphis.
“We really haven’t gotten to [what my role might be with the Heat]. I just moved in. I’m like a guy like Udonis [Haslem]. I think I can come in and do similar things, learn under him. I’ve known Amar’e Stoudemire for awhile. I think it’s a great fit.”
The Heat was interested in Stokes before the 2014 draft. He was taken 35th overall by the Jazz and ended up playing for the Iowa Energy in the NBA’s Developmental League.
Stokes was on his way to the airport to attend a predraft workout for the Heat when the limo he was riding in was hit by another car. Stokes, who wasn’t wearing a seat belt, said he sustained a concussion.
“I came down here, probably worked out twice after sitting out for two weeks,” Stokes said. “Did pretty well. I was just happy the Heat had interest in me, and now I think it’s a perfect fit for me.”
Stokes said the Heat’s system is much different than the Grizzlies’. He has been leaning on Richardson, his former teammate at the University of Tennessee, to help him not only adjust to his new team but also find a place to live in South Florida. “Any advice is good for me,” Stokes said.
Spoelstra said at Thursday’s shootaround he planned to give Udrih and Stokes plenty of time to get comfortable.
“What we have is a good weekend of practice ahead,” Spoelstra said. “So we’ll get a little better chance to get to know them and incorporate them into our system. We’ll be able to get more comfortable and then we’ll go from there.”
▪ Hassan Whiteside’s 64.3 percent field-goal percentage entering Thusday’s game ranked third in the league behind the Rockets’ Clint Capela (79.5) and Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan (72.7).
Last year, Wade assisted on 41 of Whiteside’s 243 made field goals (16.8 percent). This year, Wade has assisted Whiteside on 35.2 percent of his buckets (19 of 54). The next-closest player on the team is Luol Deng with six assists. Whiteside’s 18 dunks also rank third behind Capela (19) and the Warriors’ Festus Ezeli (21).