The Miami Heat forward Markieff Morris only appeared in 10 games before receiving a blindside blow to the back from Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic on November 8, 2021. While Morris has been spotted working out with the team and participating in practices, he continues to be ruled out for games, officially listed as “return to competition conditioning.”
Morris is set to miss his 44th consecutive game on Saturday, February 5, and while the Heat have not provided any details on his possible return timetable, according to Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson, there’s a strong chance he never suits up again this season.
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While Morris wants to play, Miami is hesitant to clear him due to a “liability” issue. Jackson wrote, “The Heat’s specific medical concern with Morris isn’t clear, but the sources said it was significant enough to make the Heat uneasy about clearing him to play, at least to this point, and significant enough to leave the team concerned about liability issues.”
Morris suffered a neck injury and whiplash following his altercation with Jokic, but this isn’t the first time he’s dealt with spine and neck issues. Three years ago, Morris missed six weeks “following a bout of neck and upper back stiffness,” Jackson reported, “that led him to being diagnosed with transient cervical neurapraxia.”
Morris, who signed a one-year, $2.6 million contract with the Heat in August, averaged 7.7 points and 2.8 rebounds per game before getting injured.
Morris Has Not Been Cleared to Travel With the Team
Throughout the season, the Heat have brought along injured players on road trips as a moral booster. Center Bam Adebayo was a regular on the sidelines after he underwent surgery on his thumb, and Victor Oladipo, who’s yet to play this season, also travels with the team.
Jackson reported that while Morris attended a January game in Phoenix, it was only because he had a doctor’s appointment nearby. Heat’s head coach Erik Spoelstra explained on January 8, “He had an appointment on the West Coast and it made a lot of sense just to meet us here. He was able to go through some practice today and he’ll be able to fly back with us.”
However, Morris was not able to travel back to Miami with the team after testing positing for COVID-19.
Morris Clapped Back at Detractors Claiming He was Faking His Injury
While Morris has rarely posted on social media since the incident with Jokic, he did take issue with those claiming he was milking his injury. Morris tweeted on January 6, “Ain’t s*** wild about it! It’s a real injury! Imagine having a 300 pound sloppy fat boy run full speed and make direct contact with your spine! I’ll be back soon like I said.”