Chris Bosh didn’t want to talk about being an All-Star during the weekend. He didn’t want to reflect on his career. Bosh just wanted to break out of his shooting slump and make the playoffs.
He will get his chance beginning on Wednesday when the Heat resumes its first post-LeBron season, and — all those All-Star selections aside — Bosh’s ultimate legacy as a player could begin to take shape based on how the Heat finishes this regular season.
Here’s a fun fact about Bosh, now a 10-time All-Star: Of all the players in New York for the All-Star Game, Bosh had the largest guaranteed contract (five years, $118,705,300). With all that money comes a lot of pressure, especially for a player who wants to prove he can be a successful leading man after dutifully playing the third-wheel role during four consecutive trips to the NBA Finals and back-to-back championships in 2012 and 2013.
In other words, it’s on Bosh if the Heat doesn’t make the playoffs, and let’s just get one thing clear before the Heat (22-30) begins its final 30 games of the regular season. If this team doesn’t make the postseason, it will be labeled as one of the league’s most underachieving basketball teams.
“There are a bunch of different possibilities we can take from this, but I’m always positive,” Bosh said. “I’m always thinking about the positive, and hopefully these hardships we’ve had this first half of the season will really define what we do in the second half.”
The Heat isn’t in any danger of coming close to matching the woefulness of the New York Knicks, but if you consider the fact that four teams in the Eastern Conference (Hawks, Raptors, Bucks and Hornets) are higher in the standings than the Heat but lower in payroll, then how exactly to judge this team led by Bosh and Dwyane Wade begins to come into focus.
Wade has pulled both his hamstrings this season — the most recent being his right hamstring on Jan. 27 — and he’s expected back Wednesday. Heat players have missed more than 100 games combined this season, but despite all the injuries and illnesses and team makeovers, the Heat, on paper, should be better.
“It has been frustrating, and the frustrating part is everything just continuing to go, and it’s not slowing down, and we’re scrambling trying to figure out what we need to do, and the plays we need to run, and the personnel we need to have, and it keeps changing,” Bosh said.
The roster could change again before the Heat’s first game after the All-Star break, a road game against those terrible, 10-win Knicks on Friday at Madison Square Garden. The trade deadline is at 3 p.m. on Thursday, and the Heat appeared to be actively trying to make a move Tuesday. And, keep in mind, the Heat can still add a player after the trade deadline by using the Disabled Player Exception ($2.6 million) it received for Josh McRoberts.
Considering the team is starting a rookie at point guard, it’s safe to assume an upgrade to that position is the Heat’s top priority. Norris Cole, a veteran point guard in his own right, is currently playing behind rookie Shabazz Napier, and that depth-chart inversion has fueled trade speculation. The Heat tried Cole at the starting point guard position earlier in the season, but coach Erik Spoelstra scrapped that plan when the team added center Hassan Whiteside.
Whiteside is one of the biggest X-factors not only for the Heat, but also the NBA. His efficiency rating (28.46) has been on par with some of the best players in the NBA since he began receiving starter’s minutes. The question now is can Whiteside sustain this level of excellence. He flamed out in Sacramento in 2012 before establishing himself, and spent the past two years trying to make it back to the NBA. Like everyone, Bosh is reserving judgment on whether Whiteside is the slam dunk, absolute perfect fit for the Heat’s frontcourt.
“I think it’s still to be determined, but I think it’s a good mesh,” Bosh said. “We’re still trying to figure each other out, too. We constantly have conversations, and that’s what it’s about, trying to figure things out.
“Coach can tell us certain things, but me knowing what I know, it’s on the players to kind of talk and have those conversations to get that chemistry to know what each other is thinking when we get on the floor.”
Bosh can speak candidly about Whiteside because Bosh is just as critical about himself. He has underperformed this season, and he knows it. In seven games before the All-Star break, Bosh shot 40 percent from the field.
“I’ve been learning a lot,” Bosh said. “I’m in the process right now of learning what’s working for me and what’s not working, and that’s game-by-game and week-by-week. It changes all the time, and hopefully getting Dwyane back I have to do it again and kind of get back into it, because me, him and Whiteside haven’t had too many minutes together.
“I’ve been trying a lot of old things, and that’s not working for me. It’s just constantly going back to the drawing board and really looking at everything objectively and seeing how I can do it better.”