MIAMI (AP) — Tyler Johnson heard his ringing phone, then paused for a moment upon noticing that the caller was Miami coach Erik Spoelstra.READ MORE: Miami-Dade Police Department Honors Fallen Law Enforcement Officers
Johnson answered, then waited to learn his future.
“Meet me in practice,” Spoelstra told the rookie guard.
With that, Johnson had a job for the rest of the season. The Heat made it official Sunday, announcing that they were signing and keeping Johnson — who has gone from summer league long shot to someone grinding in the NBA Development League to a key part of Miami’s rotation of late while the Heat wait for Dwyane Wade to return from a hamstring strain.
Johnson has logged 111 minutes in Miami’s last five games, a stretch that coincides with Wade’s absence. Johnson is coming off an 18-point outing in Friday’s loss at San Antonio, a game that he played knowing it could have been his last with the Heat. Johnson averaged 7.5 points while playing out 10-day deals — the second and final one with Miami having expired Saturday.
“He’s earned everything he’s gotten up to this point,” Spoelstra said. “Very tough, very competitive. He’ll be the last one in the gym. Those are the qualities that you like. He’s a promising guard prospect.”READ MORE: Norwegian Cruise Line CEO Warns Company Could Take Ships Out Of Florida Over Vaccine Proof Ban
And he’s been needed.
The Heat are holding down the eighth and final playoff spot in the East, with injuries a constant all season. Wade’s status for Monday’s home game against New York is officially listed as questionable, though he was limited to non-contact work in Sunday’s practice, which would seem to suggest that he won’t be in uniform against the Knicks.
Also questionable for Monday is center Hassan Whiteside, who is dealing with a sprained right ankle. Forward Udonis Haslem plans to play, one game after spraining his left wrist, and forward Shawne Williams is also questionable while continuing to deal with right hip soreness.
“What’s new? Let’s go. Bring it on,” said Heat center Chris Bosh, who’s also dealing with nagging aches and pains. “That’s the attitude we’ve got to have.”
Johnson, who met briefly with Heat President Pat Riley after Sunday’s practice, described getting the chance to finish the season with Miami as life-changing.
“All we can do is put our head down and make this playoff push,” he said. “This is an organization that has a lot of tradition of winning and the playoffs is almost mandatory for a situation like this, no matter what we’ve had to go through this whole year.”MORE NEWS: Federal Appeals Court Orders New Trial For Former US Rep. Corrine Brown
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