- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 23, 2010

MIAMI (AP) - Udonis Haslem and the Miami Heat spent parts of two days reviewing many scenarios, hoping there was a way to avoid surgery.

There wasn’t.

And Miami’s toughest player is out indefinitely _ possibly many months.

The Heat said Haslem will have surgery Tuesday to repair a badly torn ligament in his left foot, an injury that came Saturday night against Memphis on a play that looked almost harmless at first. Instead, it’ll go down as a significant blow to the Heat, who entered Monday ranked 19th in rebounding in the 30-team NBA, and now will be without their best player in that department.

“We lose a warrior,” coach Erik Spoelstra said.

In the short term, the Heat plan to give more minutes to Juwan Howard at the spot backing up starting power forward Chris Bosh. LeBron James and James Jones will be used at that position as well in certain situations, Spoelstra said.

“There’s no replacement for UD. We all know that,” James said.

The Heat will not know how long Haslem will be out until after the surgery. Spoelstra declined to speculate on a best-case scenario.

Aided by two massive crutches, Haslem made his way to the Heat bench just moments before tip-off of Miami’s home game Monday against the Indiana Pacers. He got a hug and two smacks on the back from James, a fist-bump from Dwyane Wade and said hello to a few courtside ticket-holders.

“His toughness, not disrespecting anybody on the team, is going to be tough to replace,” point guard Carlos Arroyo said. “He’s such a tough guy and what he brings is something special every night. But we have the guys to do it. We understand it’s going to take everybody to continue to work on those details that he provides for us. Rebounding, loose balls, charges. We just have to step up.”

Haslem is considered by teammates to be not only Miami’s grittiest guy, but the primary locker-room leader as well.

The Heat have said for years that Haslem’s work off-the-court and in the locker room is one of the reasons why he’s so valued, and Spoelstra said he expects the co-captain to keep that leadership role during his absence.

“That was the first thing I mentioned to him yesterday when he was getting his tests,” Spoelstra said Monday. “I said, ‘You’ve been through a lot already in your life. You will get through this. And secondly, your role as team captain and leader won’t change.’ We will still need that leadership and his voice behind the scenes.”

It’s been a trying few months for Haslem, who thought he was going to leave his hometown during the offseason and sign elsewhere because the Heat, at first, simply could not afford to keep him. Then James, Bosh and Wade all agreed to take less money in their Heat deals, which helped Miami offer Haslem $20 million for five years.

Days after Haslem accepted the new Miami deal, his mother died of cancer.

Story Continues →