Barry Jackson

Miami Heat changes Dwyane Wade’s injury status

Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade smiles on the bench as they play the New York Knicks at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami last Friday. Wade might return Friday from a hamstring injury against Oklahoma City.
Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade smiles on the bench as they play the New York Knicks at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami last Friday. Wade might return Friday from a hamstring injury against Oklahoma City. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

OKLAHOMA CITY - Heat guard Dwyane Wade, who has missed the past five games with a strained hamstring, participated in the team’s shootaround on Friday and might play Friday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Heat changed Wade’s status from out to questionable.

Coach Erik Spoelstra said he isn’t sure if Wade will play and Wade declined to speak to reporters.

“I was very happy to see him out there, obviously," Spoelstra said of Wade doing all of shootaround.

“I have not even asked him yet” about playing Friday.

Wade is averaging 13.7 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 12 games for the Heat since Miami acquired him from Cleveland.

He has scored at least 22 points in three of his past seven games.

Goran Dragic, James Johnson and others have been more aggressive offensively late in close games during Wade’s absence.

Dragic said he will pick his spots late in games when Wade returns.

“It will be the same me,” Dragic said of his late-game approach with Wade back. “That’s the best way to put it. Be me and try to help the team. We understand the only thing that matters is winning. Whoever has the better matchup or better shot, that guy is going to take it. We need to be smart about it. It depends which player you have on you. When we played against Denver, they put [Wilson] Chandler on me. He’s fast, he’s big. That’s why we went to other guys.”

Wade, Dragic said, “makes my job so much easier. Before he got hurt, we proved that we can play with everybody together. I think it’s not going to be a problem.”

With Wade joining a deep roster, Dragic said it will be “tough” for opponents because “they cannot focus on only one guy. The opposing team needs to prepare for everybody, so that’s good.”

Spoelstra, asked if he wants other players to retain their late-game offensive aggressiveness when Wade returns, said: “Yeah. And we were already doing that with Dwyane. There was only a couple, two or three games, where Dwyane really had to go in the bag and turn back the clock.

“But Dwyane wants guys to grow and gain more confidence, and that’s really a big part of his greatness. He’s going to make this whole group better and that’s not just by him taking the last shot. There might be other guys making plays, and him instilling a bunch of confidence in him.”

Asked if Wade’s minutes would be limited if he plays Friday, Spoelstra said: “Let’s cross that bridge tonight when I talk to you guys. He’s been check marking all the boxes very diligently in the last two weeks. So we’ll check that one tonight and I’ll let you guys know.”

• While Wade might return Friday, the Heat said Hassan Whiteside would miss his seventh consecutive game with a strained left hip flexor.

"It seems like he's been on that bike for two hours,” Spoelstra said.

TWO-WAY DEALS

The Heat will get the services of Derrick Jones Jr. and Derrick Walton Jr. for the duration of the regular season as soon as the Sioux Falls Skyforce season ends, potentially as soon as this weekend.

The Skyforce is an underdog to secure a playoff spot.

But neither player is eligible for postseason unless the Heat clears a spot on the 15-man roster for either of them, which appears unlikely.

Two-way players are permitted to spend no more than 45 days in the NBA until their G-League season ends. Walton has used all his days.

“It’s something that we’ve been able to negotiate pretty smoothly,” Spoelstra said. “The system is a little bit clumsy, but I’m sure we’ll iron that all out in years to come. I’m a big fan of the two-way contract. I think it’s good for teams, it’s good for the player. We’ve seen the benefits of developing our guys with us, but also getting those guys a lot of game reps in our culture, in Sioux Falls.”

Jones, who was flying to Oklahoma City Friday to join the team by game-time, has two days of NBA eligibility remaining before the Skyforce season ends.

Jones has appeared in 11 games for the Heat and made eight starts and is averaging 3.8 points while shooting 37.2 percent from the field and 14.3 percent on three-pointers (2 for 14).

Asked if he views Jones as a longterm possibility for the Heat, Spoelstra said: “Absolutely. We always envision where a player can go. But we love the idea of getting guys, young talented players who are ambitious into our summer program and into training camp and move on from there. He’s improved this year with us.

“When he’s been with us, he’s been committed to working on his body in the weight room, working on his conditioning, working on his player development and really committing to the defensive points. I think he has to break into this program as a defensive minded player. That’s really where his potential is. But we will hammer and drill all the other stuff offensively, just also to throw a carrot to guys. It’s been very intentional that we try to get him on the best wing opponent every night and really embrace that challenge regardless of how many minutes he plays and what his offensive responsibility is. He has to guard, he has to be able to impact on that side of the floor. And that got better. It still has a long ways to go, but he’s starting to understand where he can breakthrough.”

Walton has appeared in 15 games for the Heat and is averaging 1.9 points while shooting 7 for 17 on three-pointers (41.2) but just 1 for 7 on two-pointers.

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