MIAMI — Heat guard Dion Waiters continues to work behind the scenes toward his return from a sprained left ankle.
But will Waiters undergo season-ending ankle surgery before he’s able to return to the court? Coach Erik Spoelstra said Friday the team has not had those discussions involving surgery yet, but an Associated Press report states the Heat’s starting shooting guard is pursuing a second opinion on his injured ankle.
“We’re not at that point right now,” Spoelstra said in advance of Friday’s home game against the Knicks, when asked about the possibility of midseason surgery for Waiters. “He’s not playing tonight and he’s doing all of his rehab and rest. If anything happens and it takes the next step between the training staff and Dion, we’ll go there. But we’re not right now.”
Friday marks the sixth consecutive game he’s missed with the ankle injury. Waiters sprained his troublesome left ankle on a drive to the basket early in the Heat’s home win over the Mavericks on Dec. 22.
Waiters said last week that he will consider ankle surgery, but only in the offseason. The left ankle has been a lingering issue for the 26-year-old since he sprained it on March 17 and was forced to miss the final 13 games of the 2016-17 season.
“At this point, you got to see what’s best,” Waiters said last week when asked if he will consider surgery to repair his left ankle at the end of the season. “But I won’t write it off, hell no. Especially if I’m going to keep going through the same thing, even with like little tweaks and things like that. When the season is over, after the playoffs and things like that, I’ll sit down with my family, my agent and we’re going to take care of it.”
Waiters could have had surgery on the ankle last offseason, 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 last summer as a player who wouldn’t have been available until somewhere between November and January.
If Waiters waits until the offseason to have surgery, he would not be ready to play at the start of next season under the eight to 10-month recovery timetable. But opting for surgery before that could have Waiters ready for the start of the 2018-19 season.
“That hasn’t been a conversation right now,” Spoelstra said when asked if having Waiters healthy for the start of next season is part of the conversation.
Waiters signed a four-year, $52 million contract with the Heat in July. $1.1 million of his salary this season is tied to a bonus that kicks in if he plays in at least 70 of Miami’s 82 games, raising his 2017-18 salary from $11 million to $12.1 million.
On Friday, Waiters will miss his eighth game of the season as he also missed two in November for the birth of his daughter. He’s averaged 14.3 points on 39.8 percent shooting and 3.8 assists in 30 games this season.
“I just play through it, though. I got to,” Waiters said of his ankle last week. “I don’t make no excuses. I don’t want that to be the reason why. It just is what it is. It’s something that I don’t like to talk about because there’s nothing we can really do right now. Just try to take care of it and get it stronger and things like that. And it’s just that I don’t want to be in this predicament, where if it’s a little tweak you have to miss a decent amount just off a little tweak. That sucks.”