The all-time rebounding leader in Miami Heat franchise history isn't exactly promising a return to action for training camp on Oct. 1, but Udonis Haslem is optimistic about making a full recovery quickly. The 33-year-old forward underwent surgery on his right knee in July, and in a recent interview he told Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that his knee wasn't as damaged as the doctors had initially thought, and that his rehab is going well:
"I'm three weeks in now. I feel pretty good, actually," he said during a promotional appearance at the Microsoft specialty store at Town Center. "It wasn't as bad as we thought it was. I was fortunate. It was mostly just a cleaning, a lot of scar tissue, a couple of loose pieces in there, cleaning out the MCL."
"I'll be ready for camp; I think I will. I feel good."
"I don't want to get ahead of myself, but I actually feel real good. I'm looking to start running and getting back on the court in the next couple of weeks."
The Heat recently made a big free agent splash by signing big man Greg Oden to a two-year deal, so the focus for next season will turn to how that move bolsters the frontcourt situation for LeBron James and company, but role players like Haslem have also been important to Miami's success.
The veteran forward logged a career-low 18.9 minutes per contest in 2012-13, but he's still a reliable presence on the back end of a defense that a team like the Heat needs to have to make a run at another championship next year. When you can count on the backups to hold a lead, star players like LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh can stay on the bench a bit longer and get valuable rest during the regular season.
In 10 NBA seasons, Haslem has averaged 8.9 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. He is entering the fourth year of a five-year, $20.3 million contract he signed with Miami in July of 2010.