What Chris Bosh’s status improving mean for free agency implications
After months of uncertainty following his mid-February blood clot scare for Chris Bosh, there is finally good news coming out of Miami. A source with knowledge of Bosh’s condition says he is improving, and both Bosh and the Heat have set a goal of the 13 year veteran to be ready for training camp in September.
Some animosities developed late in the offseason last year when Bosh tried to convince the team and the league that he was healthy enough to play while on blood thinning medications. Bosh petitioned to involve the Player’s Association, but the Heat decided that they would not allow their 11-time all-star to make a return, despite a tight conference semifinals series. Head coach Erik Spoelstra was a player on the court when Hank Gathers collapsed and died during a basketball game in 1990, so it is likely Spoelstra’s experience helped lead the franchise to take the safer route.
This was the second consecutive season that Bosh was forced to cut short due to blood clots, although this time the condition was much less serious since the clots were spotted earlier. There was, and remains, some speculation on whether Bosh would be forced to retire, which would have given the Heat some extra salary cap space for the offseason. It now seems clear that both Bosh and the Heat are looking forward to his return. If a setback occurs and Bosh is unable to play next season, his $23 million salary will count against the team until February.
Pat Riley has stated that the key selling points for free agents this year will be Bosh’s return and the stability under coach Spoelstra, who just signed a two year extension with the team. Riley will have some important decisions to make this offseason regarding the future of the Heat. The Heat performed well last season, earning the third seed in the East and advancing to the second round, where the team lost an extremely close 7 game series to the Raptors, even while losing their leading scorer at the All Star break. Miami actually improved without Bosh in the lineup, going 19-10 with a faster small ball lineup, as opposed to 29-24 before Bosh was sidelined. This makes it difficult to tell just how good the Heat will be with Bosh returning.
Besides the integration of Bosh back into the Miami offense, the Heat have many question marks in free agency. The team has only six players currently on contract, and four starters from last season’s playoff run are pending unrestricted free agents. Riley will be meeting with Kevin Durant this offseason, but with only $42 million in cap space, other priorities for the team include resigning Hassan Whiteside, who will demand a maximum contract, and Dwyane Wade, who despite being the team’s centerpiece for 13 years, is considering his options elsewhere.
This will be a crucial offseason for Pat Riley and the Heat, who will look to build on last year’s momentum in the post-LeBron era.