Doctors found more evidence of blood clotting in Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh, derailing his attempted comeback, according to a source.
The complication, believed to be in his lung, involved evidence of some continued clotting and is believed to be related to one of two previous blood clot episodes. Those episodes sidelined Bosh after the All-Star break each of the past two seasons.
Though the complication is not considered life-threatening if treated, it requires medication and playing with it is considered unrealistic.
Bosh was diagnosed with a blood clot that traveled from his leg to his lung in February 2015 and was diagnosed with a clot in his calf this past February.
Bosh released a video statement late Friday evening on uninterrupted.com.
The Heat had gone into this week expecting to clear Bosh to resume his career this season, according to multiple sources briefed on the situation. But his clearance by the Heat always was contingent on Bosh passing his physical and no issues surfacing during a battery of Heat-administered medical tests this week.
And when an issue arose in blood work this week, the Heat concluded he could not be cleared to return.
A statement released Friday afternoon by the Heat said, “the Miami Heat and Chris Bosh, in consultation with team doctors and other physicians, have been working together for many months with the mutual goal of having Chris return to the court as soon as possible. Chris has now taken his preseason physical. The Miami Heat regret that it remains unable to clear Chris to return to basketball activities, and there is no timetable for his return.”
The NBA collective bargaining agreement forbids teams from announcing some medical information without a player’s consent.
Blood clots are gel-like clumps of blood that can be dangerous, potentially life-threatening if not treated quickly with blood thinners or anti-coagulants. There is a risk of playing sports while on blood thinners because of the potential of internal bleeding or if a player is cut.
The Heat was receptive to allowing Bosh to play while taking a new form of medication that would be out of his system by game time, a regimen used by National Hockey League player Tomas Fleischmann. But that was contingent on Bosh having no red flags in medical tests conducted this week.
Though it’s unclear if Bosh will attempt to play again, he is not expected to file a grievance with the union or push to return in the immediate future, amid this latest setback.
Bosh’s season ended prematurely with blood clots each of the past two seasons, both times at the All-Star break. The first clot, diagnosed in 2015, traveled from his leg to his lung. The second episode, this past February, began with discomfort in his calf.
The Heat has declined to comment about Bosh for the past two months, beyond an Aug. 31 tweet from owner Micky Arison saying he would see Bosh in training camp. Miami opens camp Tuesday in the Bahamas and begins the regular season Oct. 26 in Orlando.
Bosh, 32, is due $76 million over the next three seasons of his five-year, $118 million contract. And while he is expected to be paid all of that even if he doesn’t play again, there is a mechanism for the Heat to clear his substantial cap hits for the final two seasons of the contract — $25.3 million in 2017-18 and $26.8 million in 2018-19.
The Heat cannot apply to remove Bosh’s salary from its cap until Feb. 9, the anniversary of his last game.
The Heat, at that point, would need to release Bosh, and his remaining salary then would be cleared from Miami’s cap if “a doctor that is jointly selected by the league and players association agree his condition is career-ending, or severe enough to put him at risk if he continues playing,” according to the NBA’s labor agreement.
That cap relief, which now seems likely to be granted, would leave the Heat with about $42 million in salary cap space next summer, with a projected $102 million NBA cap. That figure could rise if forward Josh McRoberts exercises an opt-out next summer or if salary is shed in trades.
If Bosh eventually proves doctors wrong and returns to play, he would not be permitted to play for the Heat.
If he joined another team and played at least 25 games, his salary of $25.3 million in 2017-18 and $26.8 million in 2018-19 would go back on the Heat’s cap.
But that almost assuredly would not happen until the 2017-18 season, if it ever happened at all, meaning the Heat likely would be able to go into free agency next summer without Bosh’s contract on the books.
Bosh’s latest setback would seem to make it less likely that medical clearance would be granted for an eventual return.
Bosh entered the week expecting to be cleared and having no reason to suspect that any issues would surface during blood work. He has been training several times a week in Los Angeles before returning to South Florida last weekend.
He originally planned to participate in Thursday’s conditioning test for the entire Heat roster but did not because he was out of town meeting with NBA medical staffers after learning of the clot.
“Things have changed quite a bit for me, but I’m in good spirits,” Bosh said Wednesday during a Facebook Live broadcast with fans to discuss his documentary “Rebuilt.”
Bosh went on to say Wednesday: “I know things will work out for the best. And really, we’re just in the process of making sure that I can get back on the court.”
Bosh had been upset with the Heat’s handling of his situation, and the relationship between the parties has been strained for months.
Bosh and Heat doctors have not seen eye-to-eye dating to March, when Bosh found a doctor who was receptive to clearing him to play late last season and Heat doctors strongly disagreed.
Bosh said this week that after a blood clot was discovered in his calf two days before the All-Star Game in February, Heat doctors “told me my season is over, my career is probably over … I felt written off … If a doctor tells me this is how it is and I don’t buy that, then I think I have the right to disagree with you.”
Bosh’s résumé is impressive, potentially Hall of Fame worthy, even if he is unable to resume his career. He made 11 All-Star appearances, was named second-team All-NBA once (2007), won two NBA championships (2012, 2013) and won three Shooting Stars championships during All-Star weekend (2013-15).
He averaged 19.2 points and 8.5 rebounds in 893 games over 13 seasons.
He spent his first seven seasons with Toronto and the past six with the Heat, where he averaged 18.0 points and 7.3 rebounds, usually serving as the third option when playing alongside LeBron James and Dwyane Wade during the four years of the Big Three era.
His absence, coupled with Wade’s departure to Chicago, leave the Heat without a single player who has appeared in an All-Star game.
Three starters appear set: Hassan Whiteside at center, Goran Dragic at point guard and Justise Winslow at either small forward or power forward.
Dion Waiters is the front-runner to start at shooting guard.
If Bosh had returned this season, Winslow was expected to start at small forward. But he now might be shifted to power forward if the Heat opts for a smaller lineup featuring guards Wayne Elllington or Josh Richardson at small forward.
Richardson is recovering from a knee injury and is expected back very early in the season, at the latest.
The other option is leaving Winslow at small forward and using McRoberts, Derrick Williams or Luke Babbitt at power forward. McRoberts is recovering from a foot injury.