In the wake of several times this season referring to an undisclosed ailment that had limited his play, Miami Heat forward James Johnson has undergone surgery for a sports hernia, Yahoo Sports is reporting.
The 31-year-old veteran this past season was unable to repeat his initial Heat success in the first year of the four-year, $60 million free-agent contract he signed last July.
Johnson insisted during the regular season that his conditioning had not waned, but was not nearly the same explosive presence who helped fuel the Heat to a 30-11 finish to the 2017-18 season.
Johnson closed the season as the Heat’s starting power forward, his 280 assists second on the team only to point guard Goran Dragic.
On Oct. 21, Johnson, against the Indiana Pacers, became the second player in the franchise’s 30 seasons to record at least eight assists and five blocks in a game, joining Dwyane Wade.
Johnson is the second Heat player to undergo an offseason procedure, with guard Tyler Johnson undergoing thumb surgery on April 30, a procedure that had a six-month recovery timetable. Heat guard Dion Waiters also is recovering from surgery, a January ankle procedure.
James Johnson is scheduled to earn $14.7 million next season. He averaged 12.4 points on .548 shooting in the Heat’s five-game first-round playoff ouster at the hands of the Philadelphia 76ers.
Johnson said at season’s end he was looking forward to moving ahead with the team next season.
“It was easy to go to work every day with these guys our coaching staff,” he said. “They’re really my brothers and it’s always tough to end it in this kind of way.”
Heat President Pat Riley said a solid finish to the season by James Johnson created optimism going forward.
“I like what J.J. did,” Riley said last month. “I look at J.J. as a quintessential, as they’re described now, Swiss Army Knife. He had a great second half last year. He had a great second half this year. And we asked him to do a lot of things. He guards point guards just like Justise [Winslow] can. He can handle. He’s involved in a lot of the decision making in the offense, which the coach likes to have some of his power forwards bring the ball up.
“But I love J.J., love the fact that he’s a winner, wants to win, has a great attitude. But he has to get better, too.”
According to TheRealDeal.com, Johnson in May completed purchase of the Pinecrest house he had been renting, paying $5.2 million for the seven-bedroom house near the homes of Heat teammates Tyler Johnson and Waiters.