MRI on Justise Winslow’s left knee negative, Heat  confirm; no timetable on return

Miami Heat forward Justise Winslow drives against the Phoenix Suns during a game earlier this year. in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra confirmed today an MRI on Justise Winslow’s left knee was negative. Spoelstra, though gave no timetable on his return.

The Heat (13-14) are in Charlotte to face the Hornets (10-17) tonight but neither Winslow nor center Hassan Whiteside (bone bruise left knee) are with the team. Although it is unlikely either will play Saturday when the Heat host the Clippers, both players could be back by the end of next week.

The injuries have forced the Heat to recall guard Derrick Walton Jr. from the Sioux Falls Skyforce. This is the fourth time Walton has rejoined the Heat since he started camp with the Skyforce. Walton, who has played 12 minutes in four games and scored two points for the Heat, is on a two-way contract.

The Heat also are without Rodney McGruder, who had surgery on his left tibia, and Okaro White, who had surgery on his left foot. Neither are expected back soon.

Whiteside did some light work at practice Thursday but still would need at least one full-contact practice before returning. After suffering a left knee bruise in the season opener that forced him to miss five games, the 7-foot center was diagnosed with a different bruise on the same knee 15 days ago. He will miss his eighth game with the second bruise tonight against the Hornets.

Whiteside wore a knee brace and worked with assistant coach Juwan Howard and executive Alonzo Mourning Thursday.

Winslow, who was injured Wednesday during the Heat’s 102-95 home loss to Portland, didn’t seem worried after the game, describing the pain as tightness in his knee.

The 6-7 third-year forward was finding somewhat of a groove lately coming off the bench after starting 15 games, 13 of those at power forward. He is averaging 6.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.9 assist in 27 games while shooting a career-best 42.6 percent.

“He’s going to stay here and be in the program with Hassan and we’ll re-evaluate him when we get back,” Spoelstra said about Winslow Thursday before the Heat left for Charlotte.

[Could two-big look continue when Hassan Whiteside returns?]

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