Duncan Robinson finger surgery leaves Heat three players down for at least the next month; LeBron out vs. Heat – The Denver Post


Already effectively operating two players short of the NBA roster maximum, the Miami Heat now will find themselves four bodies short of that limit over the next month, if not longer.

In the wake of announcing Tuesday that rookie big man Nikola Jovic would miss four weeks due to a lower-back stress reaction, the Heat announced Wednesday that guard Duncan Robinson would be out at least a month due to finger surgery on the second finger on his right, shooting, hand.

The latest two absences come with second-year center Omer Yurtseven still recovering from November ankle surgery, yet to play this season.

In addition, the Heat have operated this season one player short of the NBA roster limit in order to avoid hitting the threshold to pay into the league’s punitive luxury tax.

When counting the presence of 42-year-old captain Udonis Haslem, who rarely plays, it will leave the Heat working with a 12-player pool, including two-way contract players Jamal Cain and Orlando Robinson.

As with Jovic, who has been dealing with back issues for weeks, the situation with Robinson required additional measures, in his case, Wednesday surgery in Los Angeles for the torn ligament in his right middle finger.

Robinson initially sustained his injury during the morning shootaround ahead of the Heat’s Nov. 18 road loss to the Washington Wizards, but was able to push through, including last Friday breaking the Heat career 3-pointer record held by Tim Hardaway, during the loss to the Denver Nuggets at the start of this five-game trip.

But after consultations Tuesday in Los Angeles, the decision was made to undergo surgery.

“I was just trying to manage pain tolerance and just figure out a way to keep pushing through it,” Robinson said. “It was kind of apparent throughout the whole time that it wasn’t really getting better and I wasn’t basically able to be the best version of myself. Just kind of weighed different options for a while and finally got a second opinion, and it just ultimately became basically abundantly clear that it was the right move.

“It’s not like a crazy long recovery. It’s a pretty minor procedure. So it allows me to be back when it matters most and also be back to being the best version of myself, which is most important.”

While the absences of Yurtseven, Jovic and Robinson do not necessarily hamper the Heat’s primary rotation, with, of the three, only Robinson holding a nominal such role, it does limit the Heat’s depth.

In the absence of Robinson, the team likely will have to count even more on the three-point shooting of Gabe Vincent and Max Strus. The Heat have struggled with their 3-point shooting all season, with Robinson shooting below his career percentage.

“When there’s a tear in the ligament like that, it’s not going to reattach on its own, so you need to get a procedure done in order to reattach it,” Robinson said. “That’s all I needed to hear. It was a matter of when, not if.”

Coach Erik Spoelstra said being down players is nothing new, in a season when the Heat routinely have had to shift lineups and rotations due to injuries, ailments and illnesses.

“We’ll be able to manage it,” he said ahead of Wednesday night’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers. “We’ve been doing it all year. Even throughout this time when we’ve been playing better, more consistent, we’ve had to deal with it. So the excuses are thrown out that door or any other door.”

Spoelstra praised Robinson for attempting to persevere without surgery.

“I really commend him for that,” Spoelstra said after the morning shootaround at UCLA. “And that’s why you love Duncan. He’s going to do anything that he has to do, knowing that he could potentially get criticized, based on how he’s shooting the ball or how he is playing.

“And, again, because of his perseverance, he was able to find a way to shoot the ball with the discomfort. He was able to overcome that. That’s due to his mental toughness. But it’s all the other areas — collisions, defensive grappling, catching the ball on the move. Those became very troublesome.”

As for Jovic, the hope is for a return this season, with the team saying the mandated four-week shutdown would then be followed by a rehab ramp up.

“We’re going to let him heal and then we will start to get him into our full program on working his core, working his lower body, all that stuff,” Spoelstra said. “We’re not going to rush into that. But we do feel encouraged.”

Jovic, 19, had been sent out for seasoning with the Heat’s G League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, before being shut down.

Spoelstra said Jovic could yet return this season.

“I don’t want to necessarily jump to any conclusions,” he said. “But that certainly has been expressed. That is more than probable.”

As for Yurtseven, it appears he will miss at least the next month, even as he pushes for something sooner.

“But he’s making tremendous progress,” Spoelstra said. “If you or I say that to him [missing another month], he’ll disagree. But I think we’re going to make sure that the plan is most appropriate.”

Easing the process, Spoelstra said, are the gains that have been made by guard Victor Oladipo over the past month in his return from preseason knee soreness.

“I think the most important thing about all of this was the patient, methodical plan for the first few months of the season allowed him to be able to progressively handle more and more minutes,” Spoelstra said. “And I’m encouraged and I think we’ll be able to build on that.”

No LeBron

After scoring 27 points in the Lakers’ loss last week to the Heat in Miami, former Heat forward LeBron James was ruled out of Wednesday night’s nationally televised rematch due to a non-COVID illness.

The Lakers also announced Wednesday that former University of Miami guard Lonnie Walker IV remains sidelined with the bruised tailbone that had also sidelined him the previous two games.

The absences come with Lakers forward Anthony Davis, who also missed last week’s game in Miami, out with the stress reaction in his right foot.



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