The Miami Heat underwent a drastic makeover this summer, as did the Los Angeles Lakers, and both teams dipped into each other’s free agency pools to restructure their roster.
While the Heat obtained former Lakers’ forward Markieff Morris, Los Angeles signed former Heat guard Kendrick Nunn and power forward Trevor Ariza. While Nunn’s role was thought to be in danger after the Lakers moved to sign veteran point guard Rajon Rondo, the 26-year-old’s playing time might get a boost after the team suddenly announced Ariza needed surgery, per Lakers Daily.
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The Athletics Shams Charania tweeted on October 6, “Lakers forward Trevor Ariza underwent a procedure on his right ankle and will be re-evaluated in eight weeks, team says.”
It’s an unfortunate turn of events for the 36-year-old veteran. The fact that he’s only being re-evaluated in two months means it will likely be even longer before Ariza is cleared to return to action.
Ariza, who appeared in 30 games with the Heat last season, averaged 9.4 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. With Ariza out indefinitely, the Lakers have two weeks to figure out his replacement before their first regular-season game on October 19.
Heat Signed Bucks’ Defensive Star to Replace Ariza
After Ariza signed with the Lakers in free agency, the Heat were able to quickly to find his replacement in former Milwaukeee Bucks’ veteran power forward P.J. Tucker.
Despite his age, Tucker just turned 36, he’s still a formidable defensive force. After shutting down Brooklyn Nets’ Kevin Durant, one of the NBA’s all-time best scorers during the Eastern Conference Finals, Tucker was pumped to take his talents to South Beach.
But like Ariza, Tucker too has suffered an injury before the 2021-22 NBA even officially started. Tucker suffered a right groin injury during the Heat’s first preseason game against the Atlanta Hawks earlier this week. Before exiting the game in the first half, he scored six points, with four rebounds in 13 minutes.
Unlike Ariza, however, Tucker, shouldn’t be out very long. Miami Herald’s David Wilson tweeted on October 6 that Tucker was present at practice, but it’s unclear if he’ll participate in any more preseason tilts.
Miami Heat’s Projected Starting Lineup for the 2021-22 NBA Season
Both Bleacher Report and South Florida Sun Sentinel‘s Ira Winderman predict the following mix of veteran stars and new player additions will make up the Heat’s starting five: Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Kyle Lowry, Duncan Robinson, and Tucker.
If those are the starting five, which is quite an impressive lineup, the next three players to come off the bench will likely be Tyler Herro, Markieff Morris, and Dewayne Dedmon.
The Heat’s second preseason game against the Houston Rockets will take place at the Toyota Center on October 7 at 10 p.m. ET.