PHOENIX — Yes, Rodney McGruder is still recovering from surgery to repair a left tibia stress fracture. No, it hasn’t kept him away from the team
Although there is still no timetable for McGruder’s return, he accompanied the Heat on their season-long six-game trip. Coach Erik Spoelstra is appreciative of McGruder’s presence, but also knows that he has to keep a close eye on him.
“It’s great,” Spoelstra said. “It’s also annoying. He’s always trying to do a little bit more. You always have to make sure you’re paying attention to him. He keeps you on your toes.
“But Rodney, his spirit, his leadership, his character, all of that is awesome. He’s a great voice. He’s so positive. Guys love having him around. We love having him around. But like I said, you have to keep a close eye on him. If I don’t pay attention down here, he may try to jump in on this 3-on 3.”
McGruder underwent surgery on Oct. 17, with The Vertical reporting that he will miss three to six months. That would put his return somewhere in between January and April.
But there McGruder was shooting one-legged 3-point shots off his healthy right leg after Thursday’s practice in Phoenix. Then he walked off the court and put his walking boot back on.
It’s not a surprise considering Spoelstra said in October that McGruder will “want to come back sooner than anybody in the history of that injury.” After making the Heat’s regular-season roster on the final cut down day last year, McGruder 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.
“He’s out there right now shooting with one foot,” Heat guard Tyler Johnson said after Thursday’s practice. “He’s definitely one of those guys who inspires you every time he’s around because he doesn’t make excuses. A lot of people in that situation probably would just be sitting down like, ‘Oh, I’m hurt. I can’t do anything.’ But he literally never sits down. He’s always trying to move around and get himself back into shape. He’s definitely an inspiring person to have around.”
Tyler Johnson probable for Friday’s game: After missing Wednesday’s win over the Suns with an illness, Tyler Johnson went through Thursday’s practice and is listed as probable for Friday’s game against the Jazz.
Center Hassan Whiteside came out of Wednesday’s game with a sore left hand he suffered when fouled late in the contest. But Whiteside practiced Thursday and is expected to play in Utah.
“It’s good man,” Whiteside said. “I’m sore, but I hit game winners with one hand.”