Erik Spoelstra not happy with Hassan Whiteside’s decision to shed knee brace. Says it’s ‘non-negotiable’

Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside goes up for a shot during the Miami’s victory in Orlando on Saturday. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

MIAMI – The knee brace that Hassan Whiteside tossed aside during the first quarter of the Heat’s victory in Orlando on Saturday was back on for Tuesday’s practice.

And will stay on. … until the Heat decide it’s time to come off.

The Heat were not happy that Whiteside removed the brace, which was on his left knee, on his own and they let him know those decisions are made by the medical staff, and the medial staff only.

“That’s not going to happen any more or he’s not going to be out there,” coach Erik Spoelstra said Tuesday following practice. “He had discomfort. We expect that. Just like a guy wearing an ankle brace or taped ankle. The first few times you do it, it’s uncomfortable, it’s new. But we want to protect him.

“He’s going to wear it. That’s non-negotiable.”

Whiteside was told to wear the brace after missing 13 consecutive games with a second bone bruise on the same knee. Orlando was his third game with the brace.

But Whiteside does not believe wearing the brace is helping to prevent a bone bruise.

“Nah, man,” he said. “Bone bruises happen when you get hit in the knee real hard. Wearing pads will (protect the knee from a bone bruise). So I’ve been wearing my pads under my tights more. I wasn’t doing that in the past.”

Whiteside is not alone when it comes to Heat players not happy for being told to wear a knee brace. Chris Bosh was forced to wear a brace on his knee when he played for the Heat.

Whiteside, who missed five games early in the season because of the initial bone bruise, has played three games since, averaging 11.0 points, 9.7 rebounds and 0.3 blocks in 22.2 minutes. He said the brace is “extremely uncomfortable” and believes it slows him down saying the Magic were playing fast – Orlando had 24 fast break points at halftime – and he just “listened to my body.”

The 7-foot center had six points and seven rebounds when he removed the brace and finished with nine points, 13 rebounds and a career-high four assists in 29 minutes, his most since returning.

“I felt fine,” Whiteside said. “I felt like I was getting back into the rhythm of things. I’m glad coach left me out there for 29 minutes. I love to be out there more with my team.”

Whiteside was told by doctors he would be wearing the brace one to two months.

Whiteside could be receiving help on the front line for Wednesday’s game against the Pistons. Forward James Johnson, who has missed six of the last seven games with right ankle bursitis, has been upgraded to questionable. Johnson attempted to return against New Orleans after three games but played just eight minutes before re-injuring the ankle. He has missed the last three.

Johnson went through the majority of Tuesday’s practice. He has been rehabbing twice a day, including court work.

“There’s no telling how he’ll feel tomorrow after treatment,” Spoelstra said.

Justise Winslow (strained left knee), Dion Waiters (sprained left ankle), Rodney McGruder (left tibia surgery) and Okaro White (left foot surgery) are out.

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