Heat's Haslem out with ligament injury
Udonis Haslem has played with broken fingers, separated shoulders, illnesses and sprained ankles. So when he needed to be carried to the locker room with his latest injury, the Miami Heat suspected it was bad.
They were right.
The Heat are bracing to be without Haslem for several weeks, and possibly a few months, after tests confirmed that Miami's leading rebounder tore a ligament in his left foot during the fourth quarter of a loss in Memphis on Saturday night. Haslem had an MRI in Miami on Sunday, and will see a specialist on Monday to further diagnose the severity.
''I doubt if he'll miss the year, but let's wait until tomorrow to really get the final determination as to what it is,'' Heat president Pat Riley told Miami NBC affiliate WTVJ at a fundraising gala hosted by forward Chris Bosh in Miami Beach, Fla. on Sunday night.
Riley also said at the gala that the Heat will need more rebounding, and suggested he may consider some roster moves if necessary.
If the determination is for Haslem to have surgery, which remains an option, he could be sidelined for months. The Heat said they expect to have more information on Monday.
Losing Haslem is the latest blow in an already injury-marred season for Miami, which was by far the NBA's biggest newsmaker this offseason by landing LeBron James and Bosh to play alongside Dwyane Wade and Haslem.
Mike Miller - one of Haslem's closest friends - will likely be out until at least Christmas with a broken thumb and ligament damage. Wade missed almost the entire preseason with a strained hamstring and now has a sprained left wrist, with his status day-to-day after an MRI on Sunday showed no other major damage. James has dealt with a shin problem for a couple weeks.
''You're always going to have to play through adverse situations,'' Bosh said Saturday night.
When Haslem went down, he immediately began pointing to the inside of his left foot, and was quickly helped into the locker room.
Haslem does not start for the Heat, but losing him for any significant amount of time would be a major blow. He's considered to be Miami's toughest player and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra calls him ''the heart and soul'' of the Miami locker room.
The best indicator of how valued Haslem is to the Heat is this: A former NBA finals MVP and scoring champion in Wade is also hurt, but Haslem's injury is considered to be the much-bigger news.
Haslem is averaging 8.0 points and 8.2 rebounds through the season's first 13 games. If the Heat choose to make a roster move to add depth at the power-forward spot, Shavlik Randolph - one of Miami's last cuts during the preseason - may be a possibility. Otherwise, the Heat could simply add to Juwan Howard's workload there, or even have James spend time at the position, which he has played before.
Spoelstra said last week, before Haslem got hurt, that he can envision scenarios where James could play power forward. For his part, the two-time reigning NBA MVP has also said he's comfortable enough to play the position if Spoelstra decides to play him there at times.
''I can do that. I've done it in the past in Cleveland ... it was a great lineup for us,'' James said last week. ''If (Spoelstra) has it in his back pocket, whenever he decides to pull it out, I'll be ready for it.''
Riley suggested that if anyone is capable of a speedier-than-expected comeback, it's Haslem.
''We're dealing with Superman here,'' Riley said.