Heat forward Justise Winslow will be sidelined for at least the next two weeks, according to head coach Erik Spoelstra, who said today that the team will re-evaluate Winslow’s back injury at the end of the month (Twitter link via Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald).
Winslow was previously on the shelf for a month due to a bone bruise in his back. He returned to the court last Wednesday, but re-aggravated the injury during that game and visited a specialist this week. Having missed Miami’s last three contests, Winslow will remain out for at least the team’s seven remaining games in January. He has only appeared in 11 games on the season.
The Heat, who currently hold the No. 2 seed in the East, are 21-8 without Winslow in their lineup this season, so it’s not as if his absence should have a major impact on their push for a top seed in the East. Still, even if he’s able to return two weeks from now, the team won’t have much of an opportunity to evaluate his fit in the current rotation before the trade deadline.
Because Miami has traded away two future first-round picks and has no interest in moving young, inexpensive contributors like Tyler Herro, Kendrick Nunn, and Duncan Robinson, league observers have viewed Winslow as the club’s most logical trade chip. He’s just 23 years old and still has real upside while also earning a salary ($13MM) that would give the Heat a number of trade options.
If Winslow has yet to show by February 6 that he’s fully healthy, the odds of him being included in a major deadline deal are slim, so the Heat may simply have to hope he can contribute down the stretch after getting back to 100%.