With the Heat expected to soon begin the process of removing Chris Bosh’s contract from its salary cap, the estranged Heat forward said early Tuesday morning that he is “staying ready,” in case he decides to play again.
“My health is great,” Bosh told studio colleagues Chris Webber, Isiah Thomas and Baron Davis in the first of five Monday appearances on TNT’s “Players Only” series. “Feeling good. Still working out. Really still staying ready.”
Bosh stopped short of saying he planned to make a comeback but said his children “ask me when I’m coming back. I’m getting pressure from them, too.”
None of the TNT analysts asked Bosh if he plans to play again.
An NBA-employed associate said Bosh has made no attempt toward playing this season but still has interest in playing again, health permitting.
Bosh’s comments come days after he was in contact with the Heat’s medical staff, as the sides are expected to begin the process of a separation at some point in March.
After Bosh failed a physical in September because of a third incident of blood clotting, Heat president Pat Riley said days later that Bosh likely would never play for the Heat again.
Bosh’s remaining salary would be cleared from the team’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. Bosh is required to participate in that process.
Presuming a doctor agrees with that assessment, then Bosh’s contract would be cleared from Miami’s cap, creating an additional $25 million in cap room this summer and giving the Heat an estimated $38 million in space.
But if Bosh makes a comeback with another team, that could be problematic for the Heat. Once he plays in 25 games for another team during any single season (including playoffs), his salary would go back on Miami’s cap.
By waiting until March to release Bosh, the Heat would not be at risk of Bosh playing 25 games with another team this season, even if he wanted to play this season, because players who have been on NBA rosters before March 1 are not playoff eligible with another team if they are released after March 1.
Bosh’s Heat contract, which will be covered partly by insurance, is due to pay him $25.2 million next season and $26.8 million in 2018-19.
So what happens if the Heat spends up to the cap this summer and Bosh plays in 25 games with another team next season?
According to cap experts Larry Coon and Nate Duncan, Miami would not be required to immediately shed salary to get back under the cap. But the Heat would be positioned to pay an enormous luxury tax bill if it doesn’t shed salary in that scenario.
And the Heat would have no cap space, or substantially less, in the summer of 2018 in that scenario.
It’s unclear whether any team would clear Bosh to resume his career.
Bosh said on TNT that maintaining positive mental health has taken effort.
“I think one of the interesting things that I didn’t anticipate was my mental health,” he said. “That’s something that as athletes we have to take into regard because we’re used to a set schedule and we’re used to a certain type of world. And that’s something that I’ve really had to work on for my well being.”
Because of blood clotting, Bosh hasn’t played since just before the All-Star Game in February of 2016. He was averaging 19.1 points and 7.4 rebounds in 53 games during the 2015-16 season for the Heat when he was diagnosed with blood clotting, for the second time in a year.