MIAMI — Justise Winslow is ahead of schedule in his rehab from shoulder surgery, but that doesn’t mean he’s returning to the court this season.
Coach Erik Spoelstra made it clear the Heat are taking a cautious approach with Winslow, who has been out since undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder in January. Spoelstra said the 20-year-old forward will not return this season.
“Rehab is going great,” Spoelstra said of Winslow after Friday’s practice. “Actually, he is ahead of schedule. But that doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t. We’re playing the long game with him. We want to be very patient. He doesn’t need to try to fast track at all right now. It’s more important that he doesn’t skip any steps and not try to rush it. He’s not coming back this season, so the most important thing right now is he stays on course.”
Winslow was forced to wear a sling for six weeks following the surgery, but he was able to get out of the sling and begin rehab work in February when the Heat returned from the All-Star break. He suffered the injury on the final play of Miami’s loss at Boston on Dec. 30.
With a wrist injury keeping him out of other games earlier in the season, Winslow played in just 18 games in his second NBA season. He struggled offensively, averaging 10.9 points on 35.6 percent shooting from the field and 20 percent shooting from 3-point range.
Miami received a $1.3 million disabled player exception for Winslow’s season-ending injury in January, but it looks like it will go unused. The exception expires today (Friday).
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 disabled player exception is granted if an NBA-designated physician determines the injured player 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.