One of the best teams in the NBA has lost one of its best players for an extended period of time. The Miami Heat announced that Bam Adebayo will undergo surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb, sidelining him indefinitely.

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Adebayo is expected to miss four to six weeks. That timeline would likely keep the big man out until 2022, forcing him to sit for a significant portion of Miami’s schedule.

The Heat are scheduled to play 16 games in December. In the final month of 2021, Miami has two matchups with the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks. The Heat will host the Chicago Bulls, who are a half-game ahead of Miami for the East’s No. 2 seed. 

The Washington Wizards are tied with the Heat for the third-best record in the conference. Miami hosts Washington on Dec. 28.

If Adebayo is still out in early January, he could miss games against the Golden State Warriors and Phoenix Suns. Golden State and Phoenix are tied for the best record in the entire NBA.

Adebayo is averaging 18.7 points and a team-high 10.7 rebounds per game. He’s considered a contender for the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award.

The Heat, Bucks and Brooklyn Nets are viewed as the most serious championship contenders in the East.

Bam Adebayo #13 of the Miami Heat Bam Adebayo #13 of the Miami Heat Photo: Getty Images | Michael Reaves