Heat’s Dru Smith Out For Season With ACL Injury

Heat guard Dru Smith will miss the rest of the 2023/24 season due to a right knee injury, the team announced today (Twitter link via Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald).

The Heat referred to the injury as a third degree ACL sprain, according to Chiang. That’s essentially just an ACL tear, per the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

It’s awful news for Smith, who underwent an MRI on his knee after injuring it in Wednesday’s game in Cleveland. As we previously relayed, the 25-year-old fell awkwardly along the sidelines in an area that has a drop-off for fans at courtside — head coach Erik Spoelstra blamed the court design after the game.

“It is a dangerous floor,” Spoelstra said. “It’s an accident waiting to happen. You close out and all of a sudden you’re going off a cliff. If the court was normal, there wouldn’t have been any kind of incident.”

Smith was on a two-way contract with the Heat in training camp but was promoted to the standard 15-man roster ahead of opening night, receiving a two-year, minimum-salary deal that included a $425K partial guarantee. He appeared in nine games in the first month of the season, averaging 4.3 points, 1.6 assists, and 1.6 rebounds in 14.6 minutes per night, with a .455/.412/1.000 shooting line.

While Smith won’t play again this season, the Heat likely won’t be in any rush to remove him from their roster, since there’s little incentive to do so for now. When a player on a non-guaranteed contract sustains an injury, his team must continue paying him until he’s healthy or for the rest of the season (if he’s out for the year). That means Miami will owe Smith his full $1.8MM salary and won’t save any money by cutting him before the league-wide January 7 salary guarantee deadline.

The Heat also already have an opening on their 15-man roster, so they don’t need to use Smith’s roster spot in the short term. That may change later in the season if the club makes a roster addition or two via free agency or trade.

Miami could apply for a disabled player exception in response to Smith’s injury, but the exception would be worth less than $1MM, so it likely wouldn’t be useful. A DPE would not afford the team an extra roster spot.

In other Heat injury news, the results of an MRI on Duncan Robinson‘s injured right thumb were far more encouraging, Chiang notes. Robinson has been diagnosed with a sprain and is considered day-to-day.

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