Storyline: Dion Waiters Injury

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Finally, during a game in Dallas, Waiters landed awkwardly on his ankle and knew he could no longer wait. He sought outside medical opinions and opted for a surgery that took place in January. “I wanted to fight through it,” Waiters says when explaining why he didn’t have surgery two offseasons ago. “I’ve never been injured like this before, I’ve never had big-time injuries. But playing through it made it a lot worse. I want this to be the last time.”

While Twitter had a field day with Waiters’s media day photos, he was focused on losing the 15 pounds he gained while he could barely walk. “Rehab f—ing sucks,” Waiters admits, but he still works out two times a day to get himself back in playing shape. He currently has a chef prepare his meals, and Bub is on hand to make sure he doesn’t give in to any cravings. “The internet is a lose-lose situation,” Waiters explains. “Yeah, I blew up. But people don’t see the other side of it. They don’t talk about how I played on a broken foot. They don’t know about the everyday grind. “I hate when people say I got paid. F— the money. I want to play. But I don’t need to tell the entire world. They don’t understand.”

Waiters has yet to play as a teammate of Dwayne Wade, who joined the Heat at February’s NBA trading deadline. “It’s very encouraging,” Wade said after Tuesday’s session. “I think [Tuesday] was the first day that we were on the same unit. He has so much talent. He’s one of the guys that playing against him, I’ve seen the talent that he has on both ends of the floor. Then, obviously, I watched him when he was here and he was healthy, and he played very well.”

There also remains the unanswered question about when Dion Waiters will be back from January ankle surgery. Long before undergoing the surgery on Jan. 22, Waiters said recovery from such a procedure would last eight to 10 months. … Heat point guard Briante Weber said Thursday that Waiters is not participating in any contact work with teammates or playing pickup games. “He’s doing his own workouts; he is on his own lane,” Weber said at Bam Adebayo’s South Beach event benefiting Adebayo’s charitable foundation. “The team we have, he doesn’t need to rush it,” Weber said. “We have guys capable of taking his share and holding it down until he gets back. We’re preaching to him to get healthy first and don’t rush it. The one thing you don’t want is to reinjure yourself. The game’s not going anywhere. We need you for the long run.”

The Heat received a $5.5 million salary-cap injury exception from the league last season for Waiters’ surgery but did not utilize it before it expired at season’s end. It was available only to add a replacement player for the balance of 2017-18. Waiters again has a bonus in excess of $1 million in his contract for appearing in at least 70 games this season. Because he failed to meet the requirement last season, that bonus currently does not count against the Heat’s salary cap and luxury tax.

Out of sight and out of action since January ankle surgery, Waiters has been back on the court at AmericanAirlines Arena in pickup games, including one that Wednesday featured Adebayo. “It can’t do anything but make us better,” Adebayo said of seeing the Heat’s once-and-expected-again starting shooting guard back on the court. “I feel like Dion has another unbelievable ceiling to him. He’s looking good to me. You can tell he’s been in the gym because he’s been working.”

Sidelined since mid-January ankle surgery, Waiters said it was difficult not to be part of the Heat’s playoff series against his hometown Philadelphia 76ers, a best-of-seven series the Heat lost in five games. “For me, personally, it was tough,” he said, “because that’s something I always dreamed about, just being home, in Philly, in the playoffs, the atmosphere, you know my family, my friends, everybody who watched me grow up, I wasn’t able to partake in that.”

Waiters, 26, sprained the ankle for the second time in nine months on Dec. 22 and has missed the past nine games. Reports have circulated most of the week that Waiters would opt for the surgery and the announcement comes as no surprise. Waiters reportedly sought several opinions on his ankle. The injury will cost Waiters a $1.1 million bonus for this season, that was tied into the four-year, $52 million deal he signed with the Heat in July. For the bonus to kick in, Waiters would have had to have played at least 70 of Miami’s 82 games. That would have raised his salary this season to $12.1 million. Now, he will make $11 million.

Heat guard Dion Waiters has been giving serious consideration to undergoing ankle surgery, a procedure which would end his season, according to an associate. A decision could come at any time, with continued rest and treatment as the other option being considered. The Heat has not put pressure on Waiters to make a decision, or pressured him to make one decision over the other. Waiters, who has sought multiple medical opinions, has missed eight consecutive games with a sprained left ankle.

Dion Waiters missed the final 13 games of last season with a sprain to the same ankle but decided to bypass offseason surgery because he was a free agent at the time. He has said that ankle surgery would sideline him 8 to 10 months. Waiters, in July, signed a four-year, $52 million contract that is paying him $12.1 million this season, with a jump to $12.7 million next season. The contract awards Waiters a $1.1 million bonus this season if he plays in 70 games — a clause he appears unlikely to meet.

Ankle surgery is back on the table for Heat starting shooting guard Dion Waiters. After spraining his troublesome left ankle on a drive to the basket during Friday’s win over the Mavericks, Waiters said he will consider surgery this offseason. “At this point, you got to see what’s best,” Waiters said before Tuesday’s game against the Magic when asked if he will consider surgery to repair his left ankle at the end of the season. “But I won’t write it off, hell no. Especially if I’m going to keep going through the same thing, even with like little tweaks and things like that. When the season is over, after the playoffs and things like that, I’ll sit down with my family, my agent and we’re going to take care of it.”

Through his first five games he’s shot 33.3 percent and averaged 4.4 points after halftime. Before the break, he’s shot 48.6 percent and averaged 8.8 points. “I’ve always got that – like at the beginning of the game – I’ve always got that explosive first step,” Waiters said. “Even on one leg I’ve got that explosive first step. I’ve just got it. That ain’t really [the issue].” But “then,” he admits softly, “I’ll feel it.” The ankle tightens up. Usually he’ll tell trainor Jay Sabol when the pain becomes unbearable. But for the most part, Waiters tries to put mind over matter.

Spoelstra again downplayed, but did not dismiss, the impact of the ankle issue. “He wouldn’t want me to make that excuse for him, and he won’t make that excuse,” Spoelstra said. “You have to adjust in this league. It’s not the first time that he has dealt with something. And just like the majority of the guys in the league, as the season goes on, you’re not feeling 100 percent and you’ve got to find different ways to get back to winning. You could see in some games it looks like he has the step and in some games he doesn’t. But his treatment is going really well. He’s getting better. He’s getting healthier. The pain and all that is clearing up. So he just has to stick with the process.”
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February 19, 2019 | 8:57 pm EST Update
“It’s very weird,” Conley said when asked by the Sun about the situation over the weekend. “I had to ask (Gasol) about what’s it like having guys like that that we’ve played in the playoffs so many years and basically we’ve treated them like rivals for so many years. But he’s really excited, I know he’s enjoying it. He’s sending me pictures and texting just always, there’s something new every day (in Toronto), so it’s pretty cool for him.”