It seems the Miami Heat and Chris Bosh are nearing a conclusion to a contract situation that has become increasingly complicated over the past year due to their contrasting views about his health.
The NBA and its players’ association are nearing a deal that would grant the Heat permanent salary cap relief from Bosh’s contract, even if he signs elsewhere, per the Sun-Sentinel’s Ira Winderman.
The Heat essentially declared Bosh’s career over in Miami this past September, when the 11-time NBA All-Star failed his physical and the team’s medical staff reportedly feared potentially “catastrophic” repercussions from the blood-clotting issue that prematurely ended his 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.
A month later, Bosh declared, “That does not mean my NBA career is over,” and he’s maintained that stance despite sitting the entirety of the 2016-17 season. While working as an analyst for TNT’s “Players’ Only” broadcasts, the 33-year-old said he’s “still staying ready” for a comeback, and when asked by Larry King last month if he believes he will play again, Bosh responded, “Yeah, I think so.”
So, the two sides remained at the same crossroads they found themselves at this time last year, with the two-time champion wanting to play and the team he won those rings with unwilling to clear him.
As a result, the Heat seemed increasingly fearful that, should Bosh be released, he could sign with another team, meaning the two years and $52.1 million remaining on the max contract he signed in 2014 would stay on their salary cap through 2019. This complicates the team’s rebuilding plans after both LeBron James and Dwyane Wade departed for their hometown teams over the past three years.
Further complicating matters, as the Heat enter this stalemate citing concerns about Bosh’s longterm health, he considers it a business decision by team president Pat Riley, who could have roughly $35 million in cap space this summer should the franchise clear its highest-paid player from the payroll.
Under the current collective bargaining agreement between the NBA and its players’ association, Bosh’s $25.3 million salary next season and the $26.8 million he is owed in 2018-19 would count against the Heat’s salary cap for the next two years if he played as few as 25 games for another team.
A provision in the new CBA signed this past January and going into effect on July 1 allows for an injured player’s contract to come off the salary cap if medical personnel conclude he can no longer play without serious risk to his health. Because Bosh’s blood-clotting issues were pre-existing, the NBA and NBPA had to reach an agreement if this stalemate between he and the Heat were to end.
All sides are working toward a deal that would allow for “a one-time allocation” to guarantee Bosh his remaining salary, but erase that figure from the salary cap before the draft, free agency and the new CBA goes into effect over the next two months, according to Winderman. It’s unlikely another team would face a similar scenario before July 1, especially with such significant cap implications.
As a result, the Heat could pursue draft-day trades and high-priced free agents without worrying about whether Bosh will ultimately sign elsewhere and send Miami’s luxury tax sky-high. This also presumably frees Bosh to resume playing, should another team’s medical staff be willing to clear him.
And there’s the rub. While the financial complications seem to be nearing a resolution, Bosh’s health issue remains unsettling. If the Heat’s medical concerns are as sincere as they seem, and Bosh is willing to play if he’s cleared by less risk-averse doctors, should we fear the worst? As much as I’d like to see Bosh finish his career on his own terms, I don’t want to know the answer to that question.
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