Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside to rejoin team in Charlotte but may not play



Center Hassan Whiteside is expected to rejoin the Heat on Thursday in Charlotte. But he may not play in game. (Getty Images)
Heat center Hassan Whiteside continues to spend time with his family after the death of his great grandmother.  (Getty Images)

MIAMI – The Miami Heat expect center Hassan Whiteside to rejoin the team Thursday in Charlotte but coach Erik Spoelstra is not sure if the big man will play in the next-to-last preseason game.

Whiteside missed Tuesday’s 107-77 victory over Orlando to be with his family after the death of his great grandmother. Whiteside is from Gastonia, N.C., and his family still lives in North Carolina.

The Heat are also expecting to be without forward James Johnson, who injured his foot during the second quarter Tuesday. Johnson was limited during practice today.

“He didn’t go today,” said Spoelstra, who characterized the injury as a tweaked ankle. “Mostly on the side. Walked through some things.”

Johnson said the injury has been persistent and he decided to be cautious.

“It was just an aggravating thing that’s been happening,” he said. “I’ve been getting treatment and stuff like that but it’s been bothering me and just taking a precautionary (approach).”

Spoelstra said Johnson is day to day, as is Justise Winslow and Luke Babbitt, although they both could return against Charlotte.

Winslow sat out Tuesday with a sore back and Babbitt has missed the last three games with a groin injury.

Both were on the court today shooting and waking through practice.

Spoelstra said he will not treat the final two preseason games much differently than he has the first six. Although in the only other set of back-to-back games during the preseason, Spoelstra sat several members of the rotation Saturday in Louisville following Friday’s game in San Antonio.

“We’ll try to continue to do what we’ve been doing, working our habits looking at guys, evaluating, trying to get better with our system,” Spoelstra said. “I don’t know exactly who will be available each game. I’ll make it work.”

Miami concludes the preseason with a home game against Philadelphia on Friday.

The season starts Wednesday in Orlando.

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