Udonis Haslem's season might be over
MIAMI -- Heat forward Udonis Haslem may miss the remainder of the regular season after having surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left foot, and free agent Erick Dampier has been signed to help fill the void that creates.
Haslem had surgery Tuesday, the same day Dampier took a physical with the Heat -- the last hurdle before a contract could be signed. Dampier practiced with the Heat that afternoon.
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Haslem ruptured the Lisfranc ligament in his foot, which connects arch bones to the ones leading to his toes. His recovery could take more than four months. The Heat may consider applying for an injury exception if the determination is that Haslem's season is over.
Dampier worked out in September for Miami, which decided at that time not to offer him a contract.
To make room for Dampier, the Heat waived guard Jerry Stackhouse, whose contract was not guaranteed.
At 8-6, the Heat entered Tuesday tied for the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference and the 10th-best mark in the NBA -- not exactly what a team filled with superstars wanted.
And the words Heat president Pat Riley once famously said -- "No rebounds, no rings" -- are resonating again, especially after an embarrassing home loss to Indiana on Monday night.
Since the moment Haslem was carried off in Memphis with his foot injury, Heat opponents have outrebounded Miami 64-44, including 20-7 on the offensive glass and while holding a 27-10 edge in second-chance points. LeBron James (5.4 per game) and Chris Bosh (7.2 per game) are on pace for career-lows in rebounding.
Take away Haslem, and the Heat don't have anyone ranked among the NBA's top 37 rebounders this season.
Those numbers aren't the only red flags, either. Miami ranks last in the league with 33 points in the paint per game, and Dwyane Wade had the worst shooting night of his career in the loss to Indiana -- 1 for 13 from the field, 1 for 5 from the foul line, a three-point performance.
So for some help, at least in the big-man realm, the Heat are turning to a veteran in Dampier who's had interest from Charlotte, Phoenix, Houston, Toronto, Portland and Miami in the past two months alone, yet hasn't been on the court for anyone this season.
For weeks, Dampier had been saying he wanted to be in Miami, and ultimately got that wish. He worked out for Riley and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra in September, but was not offered a contract. When Haslem got hurt, it didn't take long for Dampier to reclaim his spot on Miami's radar screen.
Dampier showed flashes last season with Dallas -- 14 points and 20 rebounds against Houston, 14 points and 18 rebounds against Charlotte, and maybe most notably, a 20-point, 17-rebound effort in Miami last Dec. 11.
But in his last 20 games last season, 12 as a starter, he averaged 3.0 points and 4.9 rebounds, never scoring more than nine points and scoring more than five only twice. Dallas traded him in July to Charlotte, which wiped out the voidable $13 million final season of his deal in a salary-cap move.
The 36-year-old Stackhouse scored 12 points in seven games for Miami, on 3 for 12 shooting. He was in the Heat starting lineup on Saturday in Memphis, a fill-in for Dwyane Wade, who sat that game out with a sprained left wrist.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press
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