Tyler Johnson said he's looking forward to being able to play pain free.
Whether that happens this season or next remains to be seen.
The Heat's second-year combo guard, who had surgery Wednesday in Miami to a repair a torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder, told The Miami Herald Sunday he's going to try and come back for the playoffs in mid April, but there's no guarantee he'll be healthy enough or ready to contribute.
"The doctors said it's going to be two to three months before I can resume contact," Johnson said. "It's a possibility [I could be back for the playoffs]. But we've just got to see.
"Again, we're not trying to rush it back. If it feels healthy by then, and I'm actually able to contribute and not just be out there trying to figure it out during the playoffs, [then I'll play]. [The playoffs are] not the time to try and figure out if you can go. If there's a couple practices before it, I'll try and practice and figure out what I can do."
The Heat's regular season ends April 13 and the NBA playoffs begin the weekend of April 16. Johnson, who had surgery on Feb. 3, would be 10 weeks into his recovery by then.
If he's not able to return, that's obviously not good news for the Heat.
While Johnson struggled earlier this season when pressed into starting point guard duty with Goran Dragic and Beno Udrih out, his overall numbers -- 8.7 points and 2.2 assists, while shooting 48.8 percent from the field and 38.6 percent from three-point range -- were good enough to make him a valuable asset off the bench.
The Heat could opt to find a guard out on the market, but would likely need to drop D-League All-Star forward Jarnell Stokes to make room on the roster.
WHITESIDE STILL ON THE BENCH
Hassan Whiteside returned from a hip injury this week, but he has yet to take his job back in the starting lineup.
Amar'e Stoudemire, who replaced the injured Whiteside in Toronto on Jan. 22, was in the starting lineup Sunday for the ninth straight game. The Heat is 6-2 with Stoudemire in the starting lineup.
Whiteside came off the bench on Wednesday in Dallas and played just over 17 minutes. Friday against the Hornets, Whiteside posted his fourth career triple-double with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 10 blocks in 27 minutes of action.
The 26-year-old center has averaged 10 points and 9.5 rebounds in two games off the bench.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers spoke ahead of Sunday’s game to the challenges of managing a player who moves from a starting role to the bench.
“You just have to,” Rivers said. “I also came from Boston, where [former Celtics] Kevin McHale and John Havlicek played. And so it’s not that hard for me to see that you can be a guy that comes off the bench and you can make a lot of money. I’ve seen Kevin McHale’s house, you know? I know he’s done well.
“It’s a sell, though. It really is, and especially for a young kid. But at the end of the day, if you’re winning, it’s hard to say anything.”
Miami Herald writer Aric DiLalla contributed to this report