|ESPN.com: NBA||[Print without images]|
MIAMI -- Miami Heat starting point guard Mario Chalmers said Friday his return to the lineup from a knee injury might take a week longer than expected.
Chalmers sat out his second straight game on Friday in what was initially expected to be about a two week absence to recover from the right knee sprain he sustained during the Heat's home victory on March 19 against the Denver Nuggets.
Veteran guard Mike Bibby has replaced Chalmers in the lineup and made his second start in Friday's home game against the Philadelphia 76ers. Chalmers said he spent the past week waiting for swelling to subside in the knee, but that he has been cleared to increase his rehabilitation on Saturday by working out on a stationary bike.
"The knee is good, and it's getting better each and every day," Chalmers told ESPN.com before Friday's game. "I just have to keep working. The main thing is to get the swelling down and see how it goes from there. I should be be able to play next week, hopefully."
The Heat's schedule could also play a role in delaying his return. If Chalmers responds well to his initial workouts, he expects to resume basketball-related activities by the middle of next week. But the Heat leave Monday for a weeklong, four-game trip to play Cleveland, Washington, Minnesota and New Jersey.
If Chalmers misses the trip, the soonest he'd be able to practice with the team would be April 4, with another potential workout the following day before a home game against Milwaukee. The Heat play three games the final week of the regular season, which ends with an April 13 road game against Toronto.
Miami could get another key role player back from injury that same week. Forward Udonis Haslem, who has been out since November to recover from foot surgery, said Friday he remains on schedule -- and hopeful -- to return by the final week of the regular season.
In addition to Chalmers and Haslem, the Heat were also without reserve center Zydrunas Ilgauskas on Friday as he continues to recover from a foot infection. Ilgauskas has missed seven games since the injury but has practiced with the team the past few days and is questionable for Sunday's game against Houston.
Injuries have left the Heat's lineup in a constant state of flux for most of the season.
"There will be some tough decisions when everybody is fully healthy," coach Erik Spoelstra said Friday. "Hopefully, we get to that point; when we have to make some tough decisions. We haven't had to yet, but that's the reason that we put this team together. We wanted to have depth."
Chalmers, who before the injury was having his best stretch during an otherwise inconsistent season, said he initially was uncertain how significant the sprain was when he his leg buckled against the Nuggets.
"I didn't know what to expect, to be honest," said Chalmers, who made 27 consecutive starts before the injury. "But I'll definitely be back. If not next week, then before that last week for sure."Michael Wallace covers the Heat for ESPN.com.