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Jimmy Butler to make debut tonight; Heat reinstate Dion Waiters

Jimmy Butler will make his regular-season debut with the Miami Heat tonight (7:30 ET, NBA TV) after missing the team’s first three games of the season following the birth of his daughter.

Butler took part in today’s shootaround and is listed as a probable starter on the team’s game notes tonight against the Atlanta Hawks.

“I’m fortunate to have a baby girl now,” Butler said after Tuesday’s practice, per the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “I’ve started looking at life differently a long time ago, but I definitely look at it way differently now. I feel like every time I leave the house, every time I hop in the car, every time I do anything, it’s like I’ve got to make it home. I look forward to having that feeling for the rest of my life.”

He was the big offseason acquisition for the Heat this past summer, agreeing to a four-year deal in a sign-and-trade with Philadelphia. Last season, he averaged 18.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, four assists and 1.9 steals per game with the Sixers and Wolves, appearing in 55 of his 65 total games with Philly.

Additionally, guard Dion Waiters is on the inactive list for Tuesday’s home game, Miami’s fourth contest of the season — and the fourth that the shooting guard has missed.

”He will work out, he will not be active and then we’ll take it from there,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Tuesday.

Waiters was suspended Oct. 19 for conduct detrimental to the team, one day after he expressed displeasure with playing time during Miami’s preseason finale. Heat President Pat Riley said that was ”unprofessional,” and noted it was one of multiple incidents that led to the suspension.

His suspension officially ended Thursday. The Heat announced because he had been away from the team for nearly a week at that point that he would not travel for the team’s two-game weekend trip to Milwaukee and Minnesota.

It was not the start to the season Waiters envisioned. He spent the offseason rehabbing and shedding weight and body fat – two top priorities of the Heat culture. He arrived at camp wanting to be one of Miami’s starting wings opposite Jimmy Butler, but the emergence of rookies Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Herro appeared to leave Waiters in a fight for a rotation spot.

”Enough’s been said about it,” Spoelstra said. ”We’ll take it day by day.”

Since the suspension was for one game, Waiters has lost $83,448 of his $12.1 million salary. But he stands to miss out on much more at this rate, since his contract carries a bonus of just over $1 million for appearing in 70 games this season. After not playing Tuesday, the most Waiters could play in this year is 78.

Given his recent history, that seems unlikely. Waiters is in his fourth season with the Heat and has never made more than 46 appearances in a year since coming to Miami. Tuesday’s game will be the 250th Heat contest since he joined the club, and the 130th he has missed — largely because of ankle injuries and surgery on his ankle and foot.

Forward James Johnson, who had been sent home from training camp because of conditioning issues, will also be inactive against the Hawks.

Waiters has missed 126 of a possible 246 games over the last three years, largely because of ankle injuries and a subsequent surgery on his foot and ankle. Waiters averaged 12.0 points last season in 44 games.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.