MIAMI — While the Heat prepared for Wednesday’s season opener, Rodney McGruder was in the operating room. McGruder underwent successful surgery Tuesday to repair a stress fracture in his left tibia.
“Surgery went very well. It was successful,” coach Erik Spoelstra said after Tuesday’s practice. “It was even shorter than anticipated and he’s already recovering. He’ll start the recovery rehabilitation process literally in less than a week. Knowing Rodney, we’ll have to just make sure we protect him from himself because he’ll want to come back sooner than anybody in the history of that injury.”
While McGruder will be rushing to return to the court, the Heat have not put a timetable on how long he will be out. The Vertical reported last week McGruder will miss three to six months after surgery.
The 90-minute procedure was performed by Dr. Charles Jordan and Heat team physician Dr. Harlan Selesnick at Miami Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Institute at Doctors Hospital.
Although no two injuries are exactly the same, there have been other NBA players who have dealt with a similar issue in the past. Jrue Holiday missed the final 48 games of the 2013-14 season after he was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his tibia, and JaVale McGee was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his tibia in November of the 2013-14 season and missed the rest of the year.
That’s not encouraging news for those hoping McGruder will be able to return this season. Spoelstra made it clear the Heat won’t rush the 26-year-old’s recovery process.
“Whatever you say the timetable is, Rodney is going to get back sooner,” Spoelstra said. “We just have to make sure that he comes back at a healthy, successful and really intelligent rate.”
The Heat will miss McGruder. After making the Heat’s regular-season roster on the final cut down day last year, he ended up playing in a team-high 78 games — including 65 starts — and averaged 6.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.6 assists as a rookie.
McGruder, who had never made an NBA roster after two years in the developmental league and a year in Hungry, stepped in for the injured Winslow as the Heat’s starting small forward. Miami relied on him to guard some the best scoring wings in the league, including Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Paul George and Jimmy Butler.
“I’m just going to attack the rehab and try to get the most out of that so I can be ready when everything heals up,” McGruder said Sunday. “They haven’t really told me too much. Just got to take it a day at a time. I don’t want to really look at the big picture and say months and things like that. I just want to attack it one day at a time and get better every day.”