Wade dunks on teammates in practice; Riley says he's 'not ready'

Updated: November 9, 2007, 7:47 PM ET
Associated Press

MIAMI -- Dwyane Wade is nearing a return to the Miami Heat lineup, although neither he nor the team are saying if a comeback game has been targeted yet.

Dwyane Wade


"We're getting there," Heat coach Pat Riley said. "We're getting close. I think that's the best I can say."

Wade -- who's still recovering from offseason knee surgery -- was inactive for the fifth straight game this season Friday night when Phoenix visited Miami.

Whenever he returns, Riley cautioned that the three-time All-Star won't immediately be at full strength.

"He's not going to be 100 percent when he comes back," Riley said.

But the 2006 NBA Finals MVP may not be too far from that, either.

Wade has been working in competitive drills and three-on-three sessions for several days, mostly under the watch of Heat assistant coach Erik Spoelstra. And Thursday's informal workout led to what Riley called a "breakthrough," with Wade attacking the basket and dunking on teammates.

"I think Erik got him to the point yesterday where he convinced him that you've got to take this to another level mentally," Riley said. "You can't just continue to be where you are. You've got to break through at some point."

Wade had operations on his left shoulder and left knee on May 15, and was told to expect a six-month rehabilitation period. Wade said earlier this week that the shoulder is fine, but cautioned that the knee is still painful from time to time -- so much so that he had to skip a couple days of workouts last week.

"He's not ready," Riley said, repeating those words four times for emphasis. "He's the one that's going to make that decision. He's trying to get to another level right now. ... I should have made him get the surgery last February. That's what I should have done."

Through a team spokesman, Wade -- who averaged a career-best averaged 27.4 points per game last season -- declined comment Friday night.

The Heat are averaging a league-worst 82.8 points per game without Wade this season, and entered Friday as one of two winless teams in the Eastern Conference.

"Dwyane Wade makes a big difference," Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni said. "He's one of the best players in the league, without a doubt. It's hard not to struggle [without] him, especially him, because he's a big part of that team."

Team doctors cleared Wade for full-contact practice last week and he began those workouts Monday, although he was able to participate in certain on-court drills since training camp began Oct. 2.

The three-on-three games typically include some combination of teammates Smush Parker, Daequan Cook, Joel Anthony, Alexander Johnson, Earl Barron and Chris Quinn.

Count Quinn among those duly impressed with what he's seen from Wade in recent days.

"I think he's getting a little better every day, a little more explosive," Quinn said. "Our job is to help prepare him for game situations, and when the game is on the line, we're not taking it easy on him. It seems like he's getting some of his explosion back, like the old D-Wade we're used to."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press