In a move that you don't see very often in the NBA, the Miami Heat have kicked veteran forward James Johnson out of training camp for being out of shape. Yes, you read that right. On Tuesday, the Heat released the following statement:
"The Miami Heat announced today that James Johnson will miss the beginning of camp because he fell short of our conditioning requirements. Once he fulfills and maintains those requirements, he will rejoin the team."
Johnson is an 11-year NBA veteran that has been a member of the Heat since 2016. Ironically enough, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra provided positive feedback to media members regarding Johnson's level of conditioning on Monday.
"He's been very serious about his work this summer," Spoelstra said, via the Miami Herald. "You can see it in our conditioning day. He did a great job with that. James, to be the best version of himself, has to have a clear mind. For him to impact the game, conditioning is a big part of it. And he wasn't healthy last year.
"He's a really unique two-way basketball player in his ability to guard one through five when he's healthy and his ability to facilitate and make other players better from a hybrid frontcourt position is unique. That's his best version, he's coming in with a clear head. He's coming in healthy. He's able to spend those 172 days training and really working on getting healthy and getting in shape. He didn't have that opportunity last summer."
Johnson played in 55 games for the Heat last season and averaged 7.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 2.5 assists in 21.2 minutes of action per performance. When asked about his own conditioning on Monday, Johnson seemed to think that he was at an appropriate place.
"I feel good," Johnson said. "Mentally, unstressed. I feel healthy. That's the main concern... Strength wise, I feel great. And I'm explosive. Condition wise, I feel great. ... Definitively, it's time for me to get back to where I was."
Clearly, the Heat didn't agree with Johnson's assessment of his own level of conditioning, and now he will have to meet their requirements before he can return to practice with his teammates.