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Victor Oladipo could return in February

If he doesn’t play well, could Spoelstra bench him for Max Strus and Caleb Martin?

Los Angeles Lakers v Miami Heat Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reported Tuesday that “it wouldn’t be a surprise” if Victor Oladipo returns “at some point in February.” Jackson said that Oladipo “lofted jumpers in a vigorous workout, running without any visible limp.”

At the Miami Heat’s media day before training camp in September 2021, Oladipo said, “I really don’t know” when asked whether he would play before the All-Star break. This year’s All-Star Game will take place Sun, Feb. 20.

In May 2021 — after just four games as a member of the Heat — Oladipo underwent surgery to repair his partially torn quadriceps tendon. He re-signed with Miami in the off-season on a one-year, minimum deal.

Before the season, I said that Max Strus and Caleb Martin would compete for minutes at the backup swingman position until Oladipo returns. But Martin has excelled as a small-ball four and may even stay in that role if and when Markieff Morris returns. Strus has also exceeded expectations. Gabe Vincent has even emerged as a capable backup point guard to Kyle Lowry.

Because of Strus, Vincent and Martin, Oladipo will need to prove he can play at a high level to keep a rotation spot. If he looks limited after two season-ending knee surgeries in 29 months, Oladipo may find minutes hard to come by.