MIAMI — Hassan Whiteside walked out of the Miami Heat locker room Friday with a brace on his left knee, and without any idea when he’ll be back on the floor.
The NBA’s reigning rebounding champion will miss at least a week — possibly much more — with another bone bruise in his knee. It’s the second time he’s had a bruise on that knee this season, and Whiteside said he doesn’t plan to resume playing until the knee is fully healed.
“Only time will tell,” Whiteside said. “Hopefully the next couple weeks I can just rest and get healthy. … I’m going to sit down and let my teammates take it over from here and just cheer as much as I can from the sideline for them.”
He got the first bruise on Oct. 18 in the season-opener at Orlando and missed the next five games. The second bruise occurred in a win over Boston on Nov. 22, and Whiteside played an average of 22 minutes — well below his usual — in the three games that followed while dealing with pain. He sat out Wednesday’s loss in New York, and could miss at least six more games if his couple-weeks estimate proves correct.
“I think he feels much better, and so do we, just that he now knows exactly what it is,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We can move forward from there.”
Whiteside is averaging 14.9 points and 12.7 rebounds per game this season for Miami. He ranks eighth in the NBA in field-goal percentage (.581), third in rebounds per game and ninth in blocked shots per game.
Rookie Bam Adebayo is now the starting center in Whiteside’s place. Adebayo goes into Friday night’s game against Charlotte having shot 11 for 12 in his last two games, playing bigger-than-usual minutes because of Whiteside’s injury.
“I like the progress,” Spoelstra said. “It’s hard not to see the progress that Bam is making.”
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