MIAMI (AP) _ Miami Heat center Alonzo Mourning, recovering from a knee operation, could miss the start of the season _ depending when that is.

Mourning recently underwent surgery for a bone spur in his right knee. Under a normal rehabilitation schedule, he should return around Dec. 25.

Depending on progress in negotiations to end the NBA lockout, the Heat still could have Mourning healthy by the start of the season. But regardless of his recovery, Mourning will miss the opener to complete a two-game suspension imposed in the wake of last season's playoff fracas with New York's Larry Johnson.

While players aren't allowed contact with management during the lockout, they are permitted to consult team physicians. The Heat front office is aware of Mourning's surgery.

Mourning missed the first 22 games last season following surgery on his left knee. He missed 12 and 14 games in his first two seasons with Miami because of foot injuries.