The Miami Heat are facing the likelihood of being without Omer Yurtseven for an extended period, with a possibility of the second-year center being out for the season, the Sun Sentinel has learned.
Out since the first exhibition with what the Heat have been listing as an ankle impingement, Yurtseven is facing the possibility of surgery that would not have him back until well after the turn of the calendar. Even without surgery, the absence would be extensive.
According to a source familiar with the injury, Yurtseven continues to seek further opinion for what appears to be a bone-spur issue.
The Heat had put in extensive time during training camp in the Bahamas of working on the pairing of Yurtseven playing alongside center Bam Adebayo. The two then started together for Yurtseven’s lone preseason appearance.
Yurtseven is an impending free agent, which could hasten a move toward surgery in order to then move on to needed rehabilitation. He then would be free to sign with any team in the offseason.
Because of the Heat’s payroll, a replacement player for Yurtseven would put the Heat into the luxury tax, even if a disabled-player exception were to be granted by the NBA.
Yurtseven initially downplayed the injury, hopeful of an expedited return.
“It’s not in my control,” Yurtseven said during the opening week of the season, with the Heat, by NBA rule, not required to make him available again for interviews until a return. “What I’m trying to do right now is control the recovery and maximize it, and that’s the process for me right now.”
Initially, it did not appear to be a severe injury.
“I went to like five different doctors just to make sure everything was fine just to double, triple and quadruple check,” he said late last month.
The Heat have primarily been utilizing Adebayo and Dewayne Dedmon as either/or options at center, rarely utilizing another big man.
Among other options with length on the roster are seldom-used team captain Udonis Haslem and rookie Nikola Jovic.
Among centers who remained available as free agents are DeMarcus Cousins and Hassan Whiteside, with Dwight Howard this past week signing to play overseas.
As it is, due to the Heat’s position against the onerous luxury tax, the team has been carrying only 14 players under standard contract, one below the league maximum.
The Heat also have been carrying perimeter players Jamal Cain and Dru Smith on two-way contracts, with the option of instead utilizing one of those two ancillary spots on a young big man.
Yurtseven is coming off a whirlwind rookie season in 2021-22, when he thrived during the midseason stretch when Adebayo was out due to thumb surgery.
Yurtseven recorded a 16-point, 15-rebound double-double in his first career start last December, joining Kurt Thomas as just the second player in franchise history to close with at least 15 points and 15 rebounds in a Heat debut. With that performance, he also became just the second undrafted player in NBA history (since starts were tracked in 1970) to post a 15-point, 15-rebound double-double in their first career start, joining only Bonzie Colson, who did it in 2019 for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Yurtseven went on to grab double-figure rebounds in 14 consecutive games from Dec. 17 to Jan. 15 last season, the longest such streak by a Heat rookie, surpassing the previous record held by Michael Beasley and Rony Seikaly. It was the longest such streak by an NBA rookie since Karl-Anthony Towns did so in 15 consecutive games in 2016.