Is the Heat Trying to Medically Retire Chris Bosh to Void His Contract?
Photo by George Martinez
Miami Heat fans are finally coming to grips with the idea of Dwyane Wade in a Chicago Bulls jersey. So now fans can turn their attention to the status of the final remaining member of the Big Three, Chris Bosh.
But it's beginning to seem like the more we learn about Bosh's progress from his second blood-clot scare, the less we know. And that confusion is starting to feel like it's by design.
One thing is clear about the star's medical status: Bosh and the Heat do not appear to agree on the answer. Between the lack of updates the media received throughout last season, to Bosh's own wife making it very clear on social media that they've viewed him as ready to go months ago, there is an obvious disconnect. Only Bosh and the Heat management know what exactly is up.
There is very little precedent for a situation like Bosh's, and from the sound of things, the team either still has no idea what to do with Bosh, or it's content burning time until a decision has to be made about whether he can play this year.
Everything that comes out in the media from both sides sounds a lot like it was drafted by a lawyer.
Here's what Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald wrote about Bosh's status from Pat Riley's news conference with the media this past Saturday:
“It’s always fluid. It always has been since there was a diagnosis and a decision for him not to play the rest of the season. It’s a positive environment right now with Chris and his doctors. Our doctors are constantly communicating, more so now than ever. I know Chris wants to play. Obviously, we would be open to that but this is still a very fluid situation. On this day, there is not an answer. I wish I could give you one.
“I can’t speak medically about this thing. I can only speak from a basketball standpoint. He’s been working out and will probably continue to work out. From a basketball standpoint, is it complicated? It’s only complicated based on the information we would get back from our doctors if there's ever a moment of truth, whether it's yes or no.
"From the standpoint of today, it’s moving forward of down that road of him playing. He wants to play. We’re open to helping him get there. That’s all I can say. It’s a sensitive, complicated situation that I can't speak to medically. From a basketball standpoint, I’ve been told we've been put on hold. Losing him after the All-Star break, both years in a row, you never know what you have or what you could have done. That's what kills me. We put together a good team right when LJ left. We never had an opportunity to see it at its full.
"We should just wait until August or September [for clarity on Bosh]. I think we'll have a lot more information then. Chris is an X factor here."
Everyone clear now on where Bosh stands with the team? No? The only concrete info that can be taken from Riley's words is that all Bosh news is on hold and his situation is complicated.
Riley's quotes do not exactly instill confidence in Heat fans hoping to see Bosh take the court again. It's been more than five months since Bosh had his most recent blood-clot scare, yet the best doctors money can buy seem to still be throwing their hands up in the air on his playing status. Something doesn't mesh.
In May, ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported that the Heat and its doctors had put medical retirement on the table for Bosh, with or without his blessing.
There is a fear within the Heat organization that Bosh's condition will prevent him from ever being cleared to play by team doctors, several sources said. It's a result of exhaustive consultations with specialists. Something this big and delicate, the sides have gone deep attempting to understand all the options.
It's forced everyone to confront the possibility of Bosh ultimately being forced into a medical retirement.
Maybe the team is still exploring all options like Riley says, but five months seems like a long time to still be looking for those answers. The most telling thing to take from those Riley quotes is the part where he refers to a possible "moment of truth" when the team doctors give a recommendation about Bosh's future playing status.
Riley seems to hint that a day could come when the doctors tell Bosh he has to retire. Yet Bosh himself for months has clearly been lobbying to play.
The Heat is a team in transition. It's in the process of a definite pivot from the Big Three era to a new era of Heat basketball. Outside of Udonis Haslem and Bosh, no one remains from the glory days. The only reason Haslem remains is because he comes cheap. Otherwise, Riley would have thanked him on his way out the door years ago.
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Bosh last took the court for the Heat February 9. League rules state if he's unable to play again before February 9 next season, an independent doctor must make a recommendation to the league about whether he is fit to ever take the court again.
If the doctor deems Bosh's career over, the Heat can then take his contract off the books. The team will then have his $26 million salary available to spend, while the Heat's insurance is likely to take care of paying Bosh himself. For all intents and purposes, it's a medical amnesty.
All of this begs the question: If the Heat were willing to let the best player in franchise history go because of his contract demands, what would make anyone believe the team doesn't prefers to get out from underneath the $26 million it owes to a player it not only doesn't believe it can count on finishing a season, but also is fearful could suffer a fatal injury at any moment on the court?
Fans would be ignorant to think the Heat isn't considering all options here. Every great player whom fans have praised Riley for bringing to Miami has eventually been, in some fashion, kicked to the curb in favor of the next Heat movement. If it can happen to Dwyane Wade, it can happen to anyone.
If the Heat truly want its fans to believe Bosh playing again is a realistic option, the team really should do a better job of making it less obvious as to what is going on here. Months ago, the silence was understandable as Bosh recovered, but it's now at a point where no one can truly believe it's 100 percent about figuring out what is best for Chris Bosh.
At the very least, it seems as if the Heat is not on the same page as one of its future Hall of Fame players. Just like in the case of Dwyane Wade, the team wants you to believe it's merely an accident and not business-related. Just like with Wade, we aren't buying what the Heat is selling.
Though it would be another blow to the now-defunct #HeatLifer campaign, it would be understandable if the Heat wanted to rid itself of not only Bosh's contract but also his ticking-time-bomb health status.
Heat fans just aren't in the mood for another ugly breakup followed by additional smoke being blown up their asses.
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