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What are the Heat's options with Josh McRoberts possibly out for the season?

Josh McRoberts will have surgery to repair a torn meniscus this week, which means he could be out for the remainder of the season. Considering McRoberts was one of the Heat's most important free-agent signings this summer, the impact of this injury will reverberate for the rest of the season.

How bad is it for the Heat right now? Well, consider that Dwyane Wade offered these thoughts last night before he knew about McRoberts' injury:

— "We would love to play with all our guys right now and give ourselves a chance, but we can't — we can't," Wade said. "That's not in the cards for us to do right now."

— "Right now, beginning of the year, end of the year — we're going to need everybody," Wade said. "We're not strong enough to be without someone. Our team is build to play together, and we haven't had that opportunity, so it's very unfortunate."

 

The Heat's outlook seems bleak, but all is not lost with McRoberts gone. After all, he never was really around this season to begin with. That said, the Heat will need to make some adjustments to overcome the loss. Erik Spoelstra had big plans for McRoberts — and still does, presumably — but all that is now on hold until most likely next season. Even if McRoberts rejoins the team for the playoffs, it's not as if the Heat will be in a position that late in the season to make major changes to its system. So, what's next?

Well, in the short term, the Heat has little with which to work. Chris Bosh has a strained calf and Dwyane Wade is still suffering from the illness that has been passed around the locker room in recent weeks. Bosh is out for Tuesday's game in Brooklyn — and could be out a few weeks — and Wade is questionable. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said on Monday that Wade might not even travel to Brooklyn. At this point, Wade is probably better served getting healthy than playing through an illness, but he did make the trip to Brooklyn.

So, where does that leave the Heat?

Miami was already thin in the frontcourt before McRoberts' injury, so adding another big is certainly being considered. Hassan Whiteside was recalled from Sioux Falls on Monday, and he'll likely play heavy minutes on Tuesday against the Nets. Making matters worse for the Heat, center Justin Hamilton bruised his quad on Sunday against the Bulls and is questionable against the Nets. That's a short-term problem, though. Long-term the Heat could use another power forward beyond Bosh, Udonis Haslem and Chris Andersen.

If McRoberts remains out for the rest of the season, the Heat could use an injured-player exception to sign a big. The team would have to cut a player to make that work, though, and the Heat has already made a commitment to developing talent.

Fans are already asking about protected draft picks and tanking this year, but that's not the Heat's style. (In case you're wondering, the Heat's first-round pick is Top 10 protected.) The Heat is going to fight for a playoff spot, and a low seed is still very much in play for this team. Wade said it best on Sunday night before he even knew about McRoberts' injury: "You're in the Eastern Conference. You're not that far out."

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