LOS ANGELES — The Heat have moved on to life without Justise Winslow, but that doesn’t mean they’ve forgotten about him.
The Heat have applied to the NBA for a $1.3 million disabled player exception with Winslow expected to miss the rest of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery, general manager Andy Elisburg confirmed Friday morning after the team’s shootaround at the Windward School.
But just before Elisburg confirmed that, the Heat contacted Winslow as a sign of support for the 20-year-old.
“We just Facetimed with [Wnslow] after the shootaround,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He’s already on the rebound right now.”
Winslow is expected to be in a sling for six months before he can begin rehab after undergoing successful surgery Thursday to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. What’s Spoelstra’s advice for Winslow?
“Just continue to be patient,” Spoelstra said. “He’s a very mature young man. He understands the big picture. It doesn’t make it any less painful being out the rest of the season. Guys want to be out there and play. He put in a lot of time in the offseason to prepare for this year and there’s a lot of things in this game that you can’t control. But you can control your mindset and your approach with the hand you’ve been dealt from here on out. So right now it’s just about recovery for the next six weeks and rest, and then at that point we’ll be able to start the process of building his body back.”
Dr. Harlan Selesnick, who performed Winslow’s surgery Thursday at Miami Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Institute at Doctors Hospital, flew to Los Angeles to give the team the medical report.
As far as getting a disabled player exception for Winslow, Miami will be granted the exception if an NBA-designated physician determines that Winslow is “substantially more likely than not” to be unable to play through June 15. The exception is worth 50 percent of the disabled player’s salary, which in this case is $1.3 million of Winslow’s $2.6 million salary this season.
The disabled player exception can be used to sign a free agent on a salary up to $1.3 million for the rest of the season, to trade for a player in the final season of his contract worth $1.3 million or less, or to claim a player on waivers who is in the final season of his contract worth $1.3 million or less.
The exception expires March 10 and it can’t be combined with any other exception or cap space.
The exception gives the Heat added financial flexibility, but they could end up not using it. With the Heat not eligible to add an additional roster spot under the hardship rule, they would have to open up a roster spot to use the exception.
In Josh McRoberts’ case, Miami could apply for a $2.9 million disabled player exception for him. But with the possibility of McRoberts (out indefinitely with a stress fracture in his left foot) returning this season not being ruled out, it’s probably less likely that a physician would determine that he’s unable to play through June 15.
The deadline to apply for a disabled player exception is Jan. 15.