When will Heat center Hassan Whiteside return from his latest knee issue? ‘Wait until I’m totally 100 percent’

MIAMI — Hassan Whiteside doesn’t want to rush back this time.

Whiteside missed five games in October with a bone bruise on his left knee, but said he “rushed” his return. With the new bone bruise on his left knee, the Heat’s starting center is going to take a more patient approach.

“Just wait until it’s totally healed,” Whiteside said Friday in advance of Miami’s game against Charlotte. “I think I kind of rushed it before, so just wait until I’m totally 100 percent. So I don’t want to come back and be a watered-down Hassan and people looking at you crazy like, ‘What’s wrong with Hassan? Why is he not playing at this level?’ or whatever. I don’t even want to risk that.”

Miami Heat’s Hassan Whiteside (21) drives past Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kevin Love (0) in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Rookie Bam Adebayo will start at center in Whiteside’s place Friday against the Hornets.

Whiteside will miss one to two weeks as he goes through a rehabilitation program for a bone bruise on his left knee, different from the one that forced him to miss time in October.

“We’re ready to put together a plan and get him back on the court as soon as possible,” coach Erik Spoelstra said Friday. “I think he feels much better and so do we, just that he now knows exactly what it is and we can move forward from there.”

An MRI taken Thursday revealed the new bone bruise, with Whiteside suffering the injury in the Heat’s victory over Boston on Nov. 22. He was able to play in the next three games at Minnesota, Chicago and Cleveland, but the pain forced him to sit out Wednesday’s loss to the Knicks in New York.

“I knew I wasn’t feeling like myself,” said Whiteside, who doesn’t remember when he hurt his knee against the Celtics. “It was really bothering me. I felt slower out there than I normally am. I got the MRI and I’m going to miss some more time.”

The one- to two-week timetable would have Whiteside out from three to six games. The Heat are 2-4 this season without their $98 million center.

“I really don’t know. It’s just going to take time,” Whiteside said when asked for a timetable for his return.

The latest bone bruise is in the same knee, but in a different spot than the bruise Whiteside suffered on opening night when he bumped knees with Magic center Nikola Vucevic. Whiteside missed five games over two weeks with that injury before returning on Nov. 1 against the Bulls.

Whiteside, who is averaging 14.9 points and 12.7 rebounds in 15 games, will begin rehab immediately. He wore a brace on his left knee Friday, which helps to take some of the pressure off the bone-to-bone friction.

Despite a second bone bruise in just a matter of weeks on the same knee, Whiteside knows it could have been much worse.

“I’m frustrated by it,” Whiteside said. “But as I said, it’s not anything more. I’m not missing months. I’m not missing a super significant amount of time. So it could be worse. It always could be worse. You got guys who are missing a year-plus out there. So I’m relieved I don’t have to go through none of that stuff.”

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