Heat’s Jimmy Butler after positive medical evaluation on knee, ‘I can’t say that I’m fully healthy’

If the goal was closure when it came to Jimmy Butler missing Saturday night’s game against the Utah Jazz for evaluation on his chronically troublesome right knee, the Miami Heat wound up with something less.

Asked whether it was comforting to receive positive feedback from his medical team, Butler said, “very.”

But he then added, “I still got some work to do, though. It’s not where it needs to be.”

Butler, 33, missed seven consecutive games in early November with right-knee soreness and since has missed three more with what the Heat have listed as “right-knee injury management.”

The missed games included Saturday night’s road victory over the Utah Jazz, which was a game previously designated by the team that he would be held out.

“We just got to maintain this thing and take care of it,” Butler said Monday, ahead of the Heat’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers at Crypto.Com Arena, the third on this five-game trip that continues Wednesday against the Los Angeles Lakers and concludes Friday night against the Phoenix Suns. “I mean, it’s part of the game, but I want to be right, I want to be a hundred, so I can go out there and do what I’m supposed to do.”

The Heat said the plan moving forward is not to have to continue to limit Butler to only one appearance in back-to-back games, with the Heat’s next back-to-back set not until February.

Butler said what matters is the knee is trending in the right direction.

“It is,” he said. “Because I can go out there and compete. I can’t say that I’m fully healthy. But there are a lot of people that are not. So I think that’s good on a lot of levels.

“The more rest that I have and able to get that recovery that I need is always going to be better. So hell, whenever I’m not playing, I’m doing something to try to get it right.”

Butler had missed 14 of the Heat’s 37 games going into Monday night. But he said the expectation is there will be a point where the knee will fully come around.

“Yeah, it’ll get there,” he said, after the Heat completed their morning shootaround at UCLA. “It’ll definitely get there. I just got to keep doing these recovery exercises and warming up the right way. I’m going to be alright.”

Butler left the Heat after playing in Friday night’s loss to the Denver Nuggets at the start of the trip, spending Saturday in Los Angeles while the Heat played in Utah.

Coach Erik Spoelstra said the process is heartening.

“Yes, for sure,” he said Monday. “He is definitely trending in a much better direction and we just want to keep him there, and that’s what these appointments were. And they were good so far.”

Jovic back to Miami

Having aggravated previous back soreness during his initial game back with the Heat’s G League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, rookie big man Nikola Jovic has returned to South Florida for further evaluation.

Jovic shot 2 of 8 from the field, including 0 for 5 on 3-pointers in 25.36 in a Saturday night appearance with the Skyforce, his lone action on his latest assignment.

That Saturday game featured the season debut of former Heat two-way guard Marcus Garrett, who is working his way back from preseason wrist surgery.

Hair raising

Having reported to training camp in lengthy dreadlocks, only to drop the look during the preseason, Butler appeared at Monday’s shootaround with beaded braids.

“Don’t worry about my hair, man,” Butler said when asked about the look. “That’s the problem about the world today, you all worry about the wrong [things].”