ORLANDO — A frustrated Dion Waiters sat at his locker after Wednesday’s game in Orlando.
Yes, he was bothered by the 116-109 loss. But it was Waiters’ sore left ankle that really left him annoyed.
Waiters, 25, said he tweaked his troublesome left ankle three times during the Heat’s loss to the Magic. He eventually went to the locker room to have the ankle re-taped in the third quarter.
“It’s just annoying, man,” said Waiters, who added that he went through training camp and the preseason without hurting his ankle. “It sucks, for real. The littlest thing. It’s whatever, though. … A couple times going up, going to the basket. Came down awkwardly or whatever. It’s whatever, though, man.”
Waiters played through the pain in the fourth quarter to finish with 15 points on 7-of-17 shooting in 38 minutes Wednesday. He recorded seven of those points in the final period after having his ankle re-taped.
“Mind over matter,” Waiters said when asked how he was able to play in the fourth quarter. “I wanted to get the win, so I can’t be limping and do all that type of stuff and show weakness. At the end of the day, that’s not who I am. But we just got to keep strengthening it and whatever, and just take care of it. That’s all I can do.”
The left ankle has been an issue for Waiters since he sprained it on March 17. The Heat’s starting shooting guard was forced to miss the final 13 games of the 2016-17 regular season.
Waiters revealed during training camp that he could have had surgery on the ankle, but he decided against it because he would have been forced to miss eight to 10 months. In this scenario of undergoing surgery shortly after suffering the injury in March, he would have entered free agency this summer as a player who wouldn’t have been ready to play until somewhere between November and January under that timetable.
Waiters ended up signing a four-year, $52 million contract with the Heat this summer. $1.1 million of his salary this season is tied to a bonus that kicks in if he plays in more than 70 of Miami’s 82 games, raising his 2017-18 salary from $11 million to $12.1 million.
When asked if there’s an X-ray waiting for him back in Miami, Waiters said that’s not the plan as of now.
“We just got to go about it the best way we can,” Waiters said. “At the end of the day, that’s me strengthening it, the little exercises and just getting it strong. Once everything picks up with that, it should be fine.”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is also cautiously optimistic.
“We’ll evaluate when we get back, but he was moving well after he was re-taped,” Spoelstra said. “We’ll just have to see.”