Heat's Udonis Haslem out of cast

MIAMI -- Udonis Haslem is taking steps in his recovery, literally.

The Heat forward had the cast removed from his left foot Monday and is now in a walking boot as he begins the long rehab process from a torn ligament suffered in November. Haslem had surgery five weeks ago and is targeting late March or early April for a return.

"I think I'm ahead of schedule but I don't have much pain but I'm not 100 percent weight-bearing so it is hard to tell," Haslem said. "I'm starting rehab process as far as moving it and getting more flexibility in it because it has been sitting for so long."

Haslem is slated to return to the doctor in two weeks and hopes to travel with the Heat when they leave Miami to embark on a five-game, 10-day road trip. Haslem could start rehabbing later this month once the remaining surgical scars heal.

Doctors have advised him to stay in the walking boot for six weeks but the Miami co-captain is aiming a bit higher.

"I'll give it an even four," Haslem said.

The injury was to the Lisfranc ligament at the top of the foot, an area that usually heals slowly and makes setting a timetable difficult. Haslem, who initially suffered the injury Nov. 22 during a game in Memphis, said team doctors believe he will be able to return before the end of the regular season.

Despite losing their most established bench player and leading rebounder, the Heat have played well since losing Haslem, which has helped the injured captain's spirits.

"It makes it a lot easier, as selfish as you want to be and be out there, it is not in me not to be proud of what these guys have accomplished," Haslem said. "You can't help but be happy and excited."

Brian Windhorst covers the NBA for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.