Report: Dion Waiters expected to undergo season-ending surgery on problematic left ankle

Heat guard Dion Waiters looks on during a game against the San Antonio Spurs at American Airlines Arena this season. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

MIAMI – It looks like Dion Waiters’ season will come to a premature end for the second consecutive season. But this year, that time will come a lot sooner.

Waiters is expected to have season-ending surgery on his problematic left ankle, according to Yahoo Sports, ending his season after just 30 games. The Heat declined to comment on the report.

Although no timetable was given for his return, Waiters said during training camp if he had surgery after the original injury occurred on March 17 he would have needed eight to 10 months to recover. That timetable could have the Heat’s starting shooting guard back for the start of training camp next season.

Waiters, 25, sprained the ankle Dec. 22, the second time in nine months. The original injury forced him to miss the final 13 games of last season. Waiters opted not to have the surgery last spring because he did not want to go into free agency with teams knowing he would not be available for possibly half the season.

Now, he will likely wind up missing the final 52 games of this season, which also affects his contract. Waiters signed a four-year, $52 million deal with the Heat in July of which $1.1 million this season is tied to a bonus that would have kicked in if he played in at least 70 of Miami’s 82 games. That would have raised Waiters’ 2017-18 salary to $12.1 million. Without that bonus, he will make $11 million.

Waiters said last month surgery was a possibility, “especially if I’m going to keep going through the same thing, even with like little tweaks and things like that.” But at that time, he was thinking more in the offseason.

Waiters has received several opinions on his ankle in the last few weeks, according to reports, and has spent time in Los Angeles. His other option was continued rest and rehab, which may have just delayed the inevitable.

The Heat are 7-2 since Waiters was injured (8-2 including the Dallas game in which Waiters played 8:34 before being injured) and have picked it up offensively. In the last 10 games, Miami is averaging 104.3 points and shooting 46.4 percent as opposed to 99.9 points on 45.2 percent shooting the first 31.

Miami (24-17) has won six straight after Wednesday’s 114-106 victory at Indiana and has climbed to No. 4 in the Eastern Conference.

Tyler Johnson started at the shooting guard alongside Goran Dragic the first seven games in which Waiters was out and played well, averaging 16.1 points during that stretch. With Johnson ailing from a left shoulder strain, Derrick Jones Jr. started the Heat’s victories in Toronto on Tuesday and Indiana on Wednesday before joining the Heat’s developmental league team in Sioux Falls on Thursday as part of his two-way contract. Johnson played against the Pacers but came off the bench and scored 15 points.

Johnson is expected to return to the starting lineup. The Heat have have a few days off before their next game, Sunday at home against the Bucks.

Waiters said during training camp the injury bothered him throughout the summer. Coach Erik Spoelstra then limited him at times during practice in the preseason and once the season began.

Waiters, though, never appeared right early in the season, averaging 14.3 points and 3.8 assists while shooting just 38.9 percent, 30.6 on 3-pointers in 30 games. Waiters missed two games in November for the birth of his daughter.

Consistency was a big issue. While posting games of 33, 26 and 23 points, Waiters also had two games in which he shot 1-of-10 and others in which he was 0-of-10 and 2-of-10.

Waiters was coming off his best season since 2013-14, his second year in the league, when he averaged 15.8 points and 4.3 assists on 42.4 percent shooting. Waiters’ best stretch was from mid-January to mid-March after returning from a groin injury when he averaged 18.7 points and was instrumental in the Heat going on a 30-11 run the second half of the season.

Waiters played in just 46 games last season because of injuries.

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