It is being widely reported that Chris Bosh will essentially continue to hold the Miami Heat organization hostage by not knowing if he will ever be able to return. That he has already cost the Heat two consecutive seasons. That if he attempts a comeback and fails, he would cost not just a third season but also a fourth (because the Heat would not be in position to apply for cap relief until a year after his last game, which would be into the 2017-18 NBA season).
What has happened in the past is the past. It’s behind us. It’s not worth discussing. But suggesting that Bosh is holding the future hostage is, in my humble opinion, an uniformed and inaccurate position. Here’s why:
He will be on the books at his $23.8 million salary this season. That much is clear.
There are two primary outcomes for Bosh if he chooses to return to play (as he wants to): (i) he never has another incident, or (ii) he suffers another blood clot. So let’s break down these two outcomes.
He never has another incident: This is the scenario we are all (hopefully) hoping for. He is still one of the best power forwards in the game. And his condition isn’t something that, when healthy, would cause a decline in athleticism. There is every reason to believe he could be the same dominant player he has been over the course of his career (accounting, of course, for advancing age).
He has another incident: This is the scenario people fear. They feel it will cripple the organization not just for the coming season but, because his salary would not come off the books until after the following free agency period, also the following season as well – two in total. This is only partially true. If Bosh suffers another clot, I believe it would be clear to him that he has a genetic condition, and that he must retire. A first clot is unfortunate. A second can be a fluke. A third surely makes you realize your life is at risk.
At that point, the Heat could waive him. They would still owe him the remainder of his salary, and it would still remain on the books and subtracting cap space accordingly. However, the NBA allows teams to “stretch” the salary cap hits of waived players over two-times the number of years remaining on the contract, plus one.
Next summer, Bosh will have two seasons remaining on his contract, at $52 million ($25 million for 2017-18 and $27 million for 2018-19). The “stretch” would therefore cause cap hits of $10 million, for five years (as opposed to cap hits of $25 million and $27 million, respectively, for two years). The Heat will have replaced a $25 million salary next summer with a $10 million dead-money cap charge, effectively saving $15 million of cap space in the process. While it doesn’t clear his entire salary off the books, it does clear nearly 60 percent of it. Then, later in the season, the Heat can apply to have the salary cap hits removed for the remaining four years.
The situation, therefore, is not necessarily as dire as is otherwise being portrayed.
Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh is facing the harsh reality known to many who have been treated for blood clots: unfortunately, a recurrence can be common.
In February 2015, Bosh was diagnosed with a deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot which formed in a deep vein of his calf. A piece of that clot then broke off from the wall of the vessel, traveled via the bloodstream up the body, through the right side of his heart, and lodged in an artery of his lung, blocking blood flow through the lung – a very serious, even life-threatening, condition known as a pulmonary embolism (PE).
Pulmonary embolisms can cause damage to the lung tissue, and put increased strain on the heart. This could even cause the heart to become enlarged, or in a worst-case scenario, lead to heart failure.
Bosh was rushed to South Miami Hospital, where he avoided a potential life-threatening situation.
Blood clots can form in people who have a genetic predisposition to them, but most commonly they are caused by long periods of immobility in many cases from prolonged air travel (particularly for players of Bosh’s height, 6-feet, 11-inches, where leg room is more limited), after having undergone surgery, or after having experienced a recent trauma, making professional athletes, who frequently deal with one or all of these issues, particularly susceptible.
Blood clots are treated with anticoagulant drugs (blood thinners), which prevent further blood clots from forming as the body’s normal systems work to break up the existing clot(s). Blood thinners can stop clots from forming, slow down the formation of clots, stop clots from getting bigger, or prevent clots that have already formed from travelling to other parts of the body. Treatment is typically continued for three to six months.
Blood thinning medications save lives. But, they also pose one possible and very serious side effect: Bleeding.
Since blood thinners slow the clotting of blood, unwanted and sometimes dangerous bleeding can occur with the use of these medications. Although infrequent, uncontrolled bleeding caused by blood thinners can be very serious. A blow to the head, for example, can cause bleeding on the brain and kill you!
Doctors and teams are therefore hesitant to allow players on blood thinners to return to contact sports, where a potential trauma could have disastrous consequences.
Bosh missed the remainder of the 2014-15 while taking Xarelto, one of a handful of the newer anticoagulant drugs on the market today.
After treatment with blood thinning medications along with adequate rest after treatment, many athletes, including Mirza Teletovic with the Brooklyn Nets this past season and Anderson Varejao with the Cleveland Cavaliers two seasons prior, have been able to resume play and go on with their careers.
Bosh returned to play start the 2015-16 season. He indicated upon his return that, according to testing, he was not aware of any hereditary issues he may have that would increase the risk for recurring episodes, leading to optimism that he could resume his career without further incident.