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Heat injury shuffle continues with Monday practice

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James Johnson returned to the practice floor, but Hassan Whiteside and Derrick Jones Jr. missed practice.

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Miami Heat Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout the Miami Heat’s first three games this season, the Heat haven’t had three key contributors — Wayne Ellington, James Johnson and Justise Winslow (Miami also hasn’t had Dion Waiters, but he hasn’t played an NBA game since Dec. 22, 2017). And the Heat had some good news come out of their practice today.

This is good news — Johnson and Winslow can operate as point-forwards and defensive stalwarts, and Ellington is the Heat’s best 3-point shooter. Winslow and Ellington may not be ready for Wednesday’s home game against the New York Knicks, but Johnson may be.

The problem? Three other players missed practice today.

Now, Derrick Jones Jr.’s absence wouldn’t hurt as much if Johnson and/or Winslow can play Wednesday. Udonis Haslem is more of a mentor to young players — and he hasn’t played yet this season — so his illness won’t affect Miami’s rotation. And a Whiteside injury would give more playing time to Bam Adebayo, who appears to be a franchise cornerstone.

But this ongoing injury shuffle could present a problem for Erik Spoelstra, who will have to continue playing with lineups and build chemistry throughout the season. Let’s hope the Heat players all get healthy so they can operate at full strength.