Yurtseven gets good news on surgically repaired ankle. What it could mean for Heat rotation

Al Diaz/adiaz@miamiherald.com

The Feb. 9 NBA trade deadline is less than two weeks away, but the Miami Heat’s rotation could soon be getting a boost without needing to make a significant deal.

Heat center Omer Yurtseven received positive news at a doctor’s appointment on Monday morning, learning that his surgically repaired left ankle is fully healed, Yurtseven’s agent Keith Glass told the Miami Herald. Yurtseven has been cleared to return to contact work.

Yurtseven, who underwent surgery on Nov. 15 “for an impingement, bone spur and stress reaction in his left ankle,” has yet to play this season. But the hope is he’ll make his season debut shortly after the mid-February All-Star break.

Yurtseven is not with the Heat on its current four-game trip that continues Tuesday against the Cleveland Cavaliers, with the team instead deciding to keep him in Miami to continue his rehabilitation work.

“It is exciting for him and for us,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said following Monday’s practice in Cleveland, confirming the positive update on Yurtseven’s status. “It’s a lonely time when you’re injured and you’re away from the team. It’s made the most sense for him just to really focus on that in Miami in our facilities when we’re on the road, but that is really tough. There’s probably nothing tougher for an athlete from a mental and emotional standpoint.

“So he’s really been diligent with his entire process and this was the next planned step. So there weren’t any setbacks, which was great.”

When asked if there’s a timetable for Yurtseven’s return, Spoelstra said “there’s not because now we just have to see how his body responds to weight-bearing workload.”

Yurtseven’s return will be welcomed by the Heat as arguably the best option to fill the backup center minutes behind starter Bam Adebayo. Miami has been outscored by 5.8 points per 100 possessions in the non-Adebayo minutes this season.

Most of those struggles have come with veteran Dewayne Dedmon playing behind Adebayo. Dedmon played as the Heat’s backup center for most of the season but did not produce positive results while battling through plantar fasciitis in his left foot.

Dedmon recently lost that job to undrafted rookie Orlando Robinson, who has been used as the Heat’s backup center in each of the past nine games and Dedmon has not played during that time. While the results have been slightly better with Robinson in the role, the Heat has still lost the non-Adebayo minutes by 9.2 points per 100 possessions during this nine-game stretch.

In addition, Dedmon is a player who the Heat is expected to make available in trade discussions ahead of the deadline. He’s on a $4.7 million salary this season. His $4.3 million salary for next season is fully nonguaranteed, which is a contract that could be attractive to a team looking for salary cap relief in a trade.

And Robinson’s availability is restricted by his two-way contract, as he’s only permitted to be on the Heat’s active list for 11 more games this regular season and is not eligible to take part in the playoffs.

Yurtseven, 24, is set to be a restricted free agent this upcoming offseason.

Most of Yurtseven’s playing time as a rookie last season came during a six-week stretch while Adebayo sat out because of thumb surgery. Yurtseven flashed his intriguing offensive skills and potential during that time, averaging 13.6 points, 13.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists in a starting role in the 10 games leading up to Adebayo’s return.

Once Adebayo recovered from thumb surgery and returned, Yurtseven again dropped out of the rotation and logged double-digit minutes in just six games during the final three months of last regular season. The Heat went with a center rotation of Adebayo as the starter and Dedmon as the backup for most of the season when they were both available.

But circumstances have changed this season. If health allows, Yurtseven (6-11, 275 pounds) is expected to have an opportunity to earn a consistent role in the rotation once he returns even with the Heat already 51 games into its schedule.

“It will be great just to have another 7-foot guy out there with us,” Adebayo said. “We have seen some big games from O — double-doubles, big shots, big blocks. He’s one of those guys that creates friction in the paint.”


The Heat listed Jimmy Butler as questionable for Tuesday’s game in Cleveland because of a quadriceps contusion. Guard Gabe Vincent is questionable with ankle inflammation.

Besides Yurtseven, Duncan Robinson (finger surgery), Nikola Jovic (lower back stress reaction) and Jamal Cain (G League) also remain out.


Spoelstra’s message to the Heat following Sunday’s disappointing loss to the struggling Charlotte Hornets to begin the trip: “We have to commit to our identity. I’m saying it over and over and over. We have a great defense. We can win games against anyone, anywhere, any place when we defend the way we’re capable of. We have closers offensively that regardless of how we’ve played during the course of the game, we have guys that can close out games again anywhere, any time, any place.”

The Hornets defeated the Heat behind an offensive performance that included 122 points on 54.2 percent shooting from the field despite committing 19 turnovers. Charlotte owns the NBA’s second-worst offensive rating.

“That commitment to defend, when we have not done that – it doesn’t mean that we would have won all those games – but they’ve been incredible costly,” Spoelstra said.

Adebayo noted that Monday’s practice in Cleveland was productive as the team reflected on what went wrong in Sunday’s loss to the Hornets.

“Just re-calibrating,” Adebayo said. “Everybody getting on the same page and smoothing things out. We go through ups and downs through the whole season, so I feel like it’s best when we all get together.”