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With the NBA regular season two weeks away, it appears Chris Bosh will not be suiting up for the Miami Heat.
After missing the second halves of the last two seasons with blood clots, the Heat confirmed in September that they’re not working toward Bosh’s return to the court, due to his medical issues.
Now, the two sides are playing a waiting game, and the next move is unknown.
It’s considered unrealistic for Bosh to play with blood clots or blood-clot medication, and it’s been reported that the Heat’s decision is out of concern for Bosh’s well-being. Bosh has insisted that he wants to continue his career.
However, Bosh’s contract has become a big obstacle in the situation. Bosh signed a five-year, $118 million contract in the summer of 2014 and still has three years and $76 million left on the deal. According to USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt, the Heat don’t have to pay all of his remaining money, as some of it is covered by insurance.
According to Zillgitt, the Heat have two options. They could apply for a disabled player exception, and if a “designated physician” concludes Bosh will miss the regular season, the Heat would be given a $5.6 million exception to use towards another player.
The more likely option appears to be the Heat waiting until at least February 9 (the one-year anniversary of Bosh’s last game), waiving him, then applying to have his salary removed from their cap. As Zillgitt notes, an independent doctor picked by the NBA and NBA Players Association would have to determine that Bosh’s medical issue is career-ending, and if so, his salary would be removed from the Heat’s cap.
An important footnote in this second scenario is that if Bosh were to be waived and his salary was cleared from the Heat, he could look to sign with another team. ESPN’s Zach Lowe reports “some team will absolutely sign [Bosh] for the minimum.” If Bosh were to play 25 games for another team, his salary would then get tacked back onto Miami’s cap.
Both Zillgitt and Lowe believe the Heat may wait until March 1 to waive Bosh, so that if Bosh were to sign with another team, he wouldn’t be postseason-eligible and couldn’t play 25 games this season. As Lowe states, this could create a nightmare scenario for the Heat – Bosh signs with another team and plays more than 25 games in the 2017-18 season, thus putting his salary back on the Heat’s cap. Should the Heat go on a free-agency spending spree (as they’re wont to do), tacking Bosh’s $23 million salary back onto their cap could put them in luxury-tax hell.
Another hold-up, however, may be another team going after Bosh after a doctor determined his situation to be career-ending. While Lowe reports teams would have interest (and if Bosh were waived by March 1) in signing him through the 2017-18 season, it undoubtedly remains a risk to sign and play Bosh with his current condition.
Simply put, the NBA has never seen a situation like this – certainly not with a player of Bosh’s magnitude or under this current CBA. February and March are a long way away, and it’s unclear what the next step in this situation will be. With Bosh actively pursuing a return to the court, and the Heat seemingly biding their time to get him off the roster, there will surely be more developments with this unusual situation.