After losing to the Toronto Raptors in the second round, the Miami Heat are heading into a potential franchise-altering offseason. Shot-blocking phenom Hassan Whiteside is a free agent and so is franchise star Dwyane Wade. But perhaps the biggest decision for the Heat rests in the fate of All-Star Chris Bosh, who missed the second half of the season and the playoffs due to a recurring medical condition.
Bosh appeared to have wanted to make a return in the playoffs, but he and the organization came to an agreement that he would not play for the remainder of their season. In that joint-announcement made during Miami's first-round series against Charlotte, the Heat noted that they would continue to work with Bosh so he could return to the court "as soon as possible." However, according to ESPN's Brian Windhorst, there's a fear within members of the Heat that Bosh may never make it back to the court.
Here's more from Windhorst:
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.
This is obviously disheartening news for everyone involved and for the NBA at large. Bosh is not just one of the best big men in the game, he is also a true humanitarian and by all accounts a great human being.
From a basketball perspective though, if Bosh is unable to play ever again, the Heat have several options. From CBS Sports' Matt Moore:
In the event that Bosh would be unable to return to action -- which again, remains unlikely and a downright awful situation for the sport of basketball because Chris Bosh is a. great at basketball and b. a great person -- there are obvious impacts. Bosh's absence sets back any attempts at building a contender. Pat Riley and the Heat would have to be aggressive to an even higher degree to make up for Bosh's absence. If he were forced into medical retirement, the Heat would still be liable to pay him the full amount of his contract, and the hit would apply to their cap sheet. The Heat can apply for an exception by which they would still pay Bosh the full amount remaining on his deal (close to $76 million) but not have it count against their cap, if Bosh is forced to retire due to the condition. In that contingency, the Heat have to wait a full calendar year from his last played game, or next February, to have that apply. So no matter what, Bosh will be on the books for this summer.
Bosh's health supersedes everything else right now and that's what the Heat and his camp are evaluating right now. If he is able to make a return, then that would be phenomenal. But if he can't, it is quite understandable. Again, his health is more important than anything else at the moment.