On Monday, Pat Riley told the media that he believes Chris Bosh’s career with the Miami Heat may be over. The Heat won’t clear Bosh for basketball activities due to continued concerns with blood clots. Given that a blood clot threatened Bosh’s life in 2015 and ended his season prematurely for the second straight season last spring, the Heat’s position is wholly reasonable and defensible. The Heat absolutely should not clear Bosh medically unless they feel it is safe for him to play.
Yet, Bosh isn’t ready to retire. He has received advice from doctors unassociated with the Heat that led Bosh to believe he can safely continue his career with the right medication and monitoring. He wants to play.
Bosh is under contract with the Heat for three more years with total salary of $79 million. Bosh will receive that money no matter what happens, unless he agrees to a buyout with the Heat for a lower sum. Bosh would only reasonably consent to a lower payout to be freed from his Miami contract and continue his career elsewhere.
Since the Heat will pay Bosh $79 million no matter what, and since a buyout is exceedingly unlikely, Miami should waive Bosh. This would allow him to continue his career with another team, one that might agree with Bosh’s own doctors on a properly safe course of action.
Waiving him would also potentially allow Miami to remove Bosh’s $25 million-plus per year from the team’s salary cap sheet going forward. This would only occur if Bosh, once waived, could not find another team willing to play him 25 games in any given season. If Bosh’s salary were removed from the cap sheet — even though he’d still get paid — the Heat would become major players in 2017 free agency.
Bosh deserves an opportunity to continue his career and the Heat have a right to move on. If he can continue his career elsewhere, that’s great! If he cannot, that’s a bummer, but at least he’ll know he did everything he could. And the Heat — Pat Riley, specifically — will be able to say that the franchise did not prevent Bosh from trying to extend his career.
The Heat may not waive Bosh right now, though. My completely unsourced and highly cynical hypothesis is that if the Heat do waive Bosh, it would be toward the end of the season. It would be timed so that if Bosh does sign with another team, he will not be able to play 25 games in the 2016-17 season. This would ensure that the Heat are able to successfully claim a medical retirement exclusion by the end of this season.
If granted, the Heat would be able to gain that extra cap space for the 2017 season. They would be rolling the luxury tax dice for the 2017-18 season, of course, but that’s a problem for another year. If that’s the cost of opening up enough space to land Blake Griffin and another solid free agent, so be it.
It’s not like elaborate plans are foreign to Riley’s Heat. After all, it was one of those elaborate plans that brought Bosh to the Heat in the first place.