Sunday, November 21, 2010
Updated: November 22, 9:22 AM ET
Udonis Haslem has torn ligament
By Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein
MIAMI -- An MRI exam Sunday confirmed that Udonis Haslem indeed has a torn ligament in his left foot, which will rob the Miami Heat of their ever-reliable power forward for at least six weeks and likely much longer.
One source close to the situation told ESPN.com on Sunday night that there are fears Haslem will be sidelined until at least the All-Star break depending on whether he needs surgery.
Haslem suffered the injury Saturday in the third quarter of Miami's loss at Memphis after he collapsed while defending the Grizzlies' Zach Randolph in the post. Teammates were told Haslem had a dislocated toe in addition to the torn ligament.
The Heat announced that Haslem will see a specialist Monday before a treatment plan is finalized, but the recovery schedule is certain to drag well into 2011 if surgery is required.
Heat president Pat Riley told local reporters at a charity event Sunday night: "We don't know [the severity] right now. With him, I doubt if he'll miss the year, but let's wait until [Monday] to get the final determination of what it is.''
Riley said it's "unclear as of today'' if Haslem needs surgery. But Riley, referring to Haslem's toughness, added: "We're dealing with Superman here.''
Yet even if Haslem can avoid surgery, Miami has now lost two players for a matter of weeks -- Haslem and swingman Mike Miller (thumb) -- it was counting on heavily. The loss of Haslem, however, is even more daunting because of the Heat's well-chronicled issues dealing with opposing big men through their first 13 games.
The news could again prompt the Heat to make another roster move, after Riley signed veteran Jerry Stackhouse in the wake of Miller's thumb surgery.
Even before losing Haslem, sources said, Miami had been reconsidering its October decision to pass on signing free-agent center Erick Dampier. The Heat talked to Dampier during training camp and worked him out before electing not to sign him, but the 35-year-old is still available after an expected deal with the Houston Rockets fell through.
A source with knowledge of the talks told ESPN.com that the Heat have maintained a level of contact with Dampier since the collapse of the Houston talks.
Haslem is the Heat's leading rebounder and at 8.2 per game, leading all NBA reserves in the category. He also has been developing a chemistry with LeBron James on pick-and-roll plays on the offensive end, averaging 11.3 points on 63 percent shooting in his last four games before getting hurt.
Dampier -- who has also had talks with the Raptors, Suns and Bucks recently -- averaged six points and 7.3 rebounds in 55 games with the Mavericks last season.
The Heat will not be eligible to apply to the league for an injury exception worth half of Haslem's $3.5 million salary to sign a replacement unless he is ruled out for the remainder of the season.
At the charity event, Riley acknowledged that the Heat will consider adding a player, even though Miami is already carrying the league-maximum 15 players and would have to release someone.
"There's a possibility we might need more rebounding,'' Riley said. "We need more rebounding, and we need obviously somebody that is going to have a big body in the paint that can make a difference and have an impact. We will consider something like that.''
Besides Dampier, Miami could also elect to bring back power forward Shavlik Randolph, who was in training camp with the Heat but didn't make the opening-night roster.
Star guard Dwyane Wade, meanwhile, also had an MRI on Sunday on his left wrist, which he hurt Friday night. The test confirmed that Wade had a sprain -- which forced him to miss the Memphis game -- but the Heat are listing him as a day to day.
Because it is so early in the season, Miami is expected to be conservative in bringing Wade back. The Heat host Indiana on Monday night, but it's believed Wade has his eyes on Wednesday, when Miami travels to Orlando to take on the Magic on ESPN.
Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst cover the NBA for ESPN.com