James Johnson and Kelly Olynyk can expect more playing time in the wake of a knee injury that will keep Derrick Jones Jr. out of action for at least six weeks, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Jones has been diagnosed with two right knee bone bruises and won’t be re-evaluated until mid-March.
“JJ will probably play a little more now,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I think he’s ready for that because of his conditioning level and rhythm. The pairing with KO and Bam [Adebayo], we’ll get back to that as well.”
Johnson and Olynyk have seen a reduction in minutes this season as Jones moved into a larger role. They are both signed through next season and have player options for 2020/21 — more than $16MM for Johnson and nearly $13.6MM for Olynyk.
There’s more from Miami, all courtesy of Jackson:
- The silver lining to Jones’ injury is that he won’t need surgery, which Heat officials were concerned about. “It’s the best-case scenario – no surgery,” Spoelstra said. “Considering everything, it could’ve been a lot worse, and we really do think that a lot of the training he’s been doing behind the scenes, strength training with his legs – considerably stronger than he was in the past.” The 21-year-old has been a pleasant surprise in his first full season with the Heat, earning a spot in a crowded wing rotation and averaging 7.4 points per game. He has a non-guaranteed contract for next season.
- Little-used Wayne Ellington responded with a 19-point performance when he got a chance to play in Sunday’s win over the Knicks. Spoelstra won’t commit to regular minutes for the veteran shooter, who remains a candidate to be traded to help the Heat get below the luxury tax line. Ellington and his agent, Mark Bartelstein, haven’t discussed a possible buyout if no deal can be reached, but Jackson states that several contending teams would be interested in adding Ellington if that happens.
- A preseason plan to use Hassan Whiteside and Adebayo on the court at the same time has fallen through, with them playing just 13 minutes together so far. Adebayo’s limited shooting range has made the pairing difficult.