Morning Shootaround

Dion Waiters says last season's lingering ankle pain has returned

Dion Waiters was one of the surprise success stories of 2016-17 in that he signed with the Miami Heat for the mid-level exception and delivered a career-best season. Yet in the course of that solid season, Waiters dealt with recurring left ankle issues that kept him out of the lineup for all but 46 games.

After logging 38 minutes in the Heat’s season-opening road loss to the Orlando Magic, Waiters told reporters his ankle woes are back once again. Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald has more:

In Wednesday night’s 116-109 loss to the Magic, the Heat’s starting shooting guard had a relapse with the same ankle that ended his 2017 season with 13 games to go and ultimately helped doom Miami’s playoff push.

Waiters, who decided not to have surgery on the ankle this summer in part because he was a free agent, went back to the locker room Wednesday in the middle of the third quarter to get it re-taped. He soldiered on.

But it’s obvious Waiters will have to deal with the pain all season long – until maybe he can’t anymore.

“It’s just annoying, man. It sucks, for real,” said Waiters, who finished with 15 points, four assists and two steals in a team-high 38 minutes, but shot 7-of-17 from the field and 1-of-6 from three-point range.

“The littlest thing [affects it]. It’s whatever, though.”

Waiters said he tweaked the ankle going to the basket a couple times in the first half.

Ultimately, Waiters said, he tweaked it three times on Wednesday.

“It’s weird,” Waiters said. “Just guarding and trying to get through a screen, a guy kicked my foot and tweaked it a little bit. I’m not going to make it a big thing right now.”

“Mind over matter,” Waiters said. “I wanted to get the win, so I can’t be limping and do all that type of stuff and show weakness. At the end of the day, that’s not who I am. But we just got to keep strengthening it and whatever, and just take care of it. That’s all I can do.”

Is this going to be a season-long issue?

“Yeah. But like I said, we just got to go about it the best way we can,” he said. “At the end of the day, that’s me more strengthening, the little exercises and just getting it strong. Once everything picks up with that, it should be fine.”