A couple of key dates have passed that Miami Heat fans were anticipating since Chris Bosh was not cleared to play in the preseason. Since a recurring blood clotting condition was still forcing him to take blood thinners, it was decided back then that the team would no longer be actively working towards getting him back on the court as a Heat player.
The first key date was February 9, 2017. This was the one year anniversary of Bosh's last NBA game. On this date, the Heat could have requested that his salary be removed from the team's salary cap. That never happened.
The other date was March 1, 2017. If the Heat requested to have his salary removed after this date, got approval and then waived him, Bosh would not have been eligible to play for anyone else in the postseason. This is significant because it meant that he couldn't play 25 games this season for anyone. If he did get 25 games in, according to the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA), his salary of just under $24 million would have counted against the Heat's cap. But, nothing has happened since March 1st either.
So, here we are, exactly one week since March 1st and the Heat have yet to make a move. To me, this is a sign that Pat Riley is sticking with the roster he built in the preseason minus Derrick Williams and plus Okaro White. The trade deadline passed with nothing happening in Miami and so did the playoff eligibility waiver deadline. It looks like Bosh will technically be a Miami Heat for the rest of the season and might even remain on the payroll until the new CBA kicks in on July 1, 2017.
A provision in the new CBA, nicknamed by some as the "Bosh rule" would allow a team in a situation like the Heat’s to remove a player in a situation like Bosh's off their salary cap for the rest of the player's contract for good. According to this in depth article about Bosh’s situation and how it relates to the Heat’s cap, there is some grey area in the wording of this provision and whether or not it would apply to a player whose contract was signed before the new CBA. Bosh's current deal was signed July 30, 2014. So July 1, 2017 might be the next date Heat fans have to look forward to.
In the meantime, there has been discussion about what the Heat could do to improve the team. There are still some moves that could be made to improve the team this season even with Bosh still on the cap. The Heat can still sign guys who were waived after March 1st but they can't play in the playoffs assuming the Heat clinch a playoff spot. Most of the better players waived before that date have found new teams already.
They can also bring up players from the D-League as well as sign free agents who haven't been in the NBA or D-League this season. But, in order to sign someone like that right now, the Heat would have to waive someone else to open up a roster spot. Another injury to a Heat player and being granted a hardship exception could change things, though. The Heat would be allowed to sign another player to another 10-day deal if that happens.
Names like Larry Sanders and Jared Sullinger have been brought up in rumors not only about the Heat but also a few other teams around the NBA looking to strengthen their benches during the stretch run of the regular season. According to Ira Winderman from the Sun-Sentinel, Riley met with Sullinger this week but decided he was not a good fit. Sullinger has been battling weight problems since the Boston Celtics drafted him in 2012. It would seem that Riley doesn’t think that having someone like Sanders or Sullinger in the short term is worth getting rid of any of the current members of the Heat and that includes Josh McRoberts, who is out with a season-ending injury but holds a player option next season.
What seems more likely is that the next roster move happens in July and Riley uses the newly liberated cap space to go after a talented forward like Utah's Gordon Hayward, for example, if he opts out of his contract and becomes a free agent after this season. Also, Riley will most likely need some of that extra cap space to bring back a few of the current Heat players who were considered "rentals" before the season started but are now looking more and more like vital pieces of the future. James Johnson, Dion Waiters, Willie Reed and Luke Babbitt will all be getting new contracts this upcoming off-season. Waiters, in particular, will require a lot more than the $3 million he is expected to be opting out of next season to convince him to stay. Johnson will most likely require more money as well to keep him in a Heat uniform.
Bosh talked a little about the Heat Monday night in his new job as an analyst on TNT but it wasn't about his health. It was about his teammate Udonis Haslem and the 2012 Championship they helped the Heat win. NBA on TNT tweeted a summary of that segment:
He also said "somebody who you want on your team 100% all day, every day... I've got to go with my man Udonis Haslem."
I don't think any Heat fans will disagree with that statement. Haslem is the epitome of what this organization is about. He'll do whatever it takes to help the Heat win.
Apparently, Bosh hasn't been in touch with the Heat despite the team reaching out to him last week. He hasn't talked much about his condition or health since joining TNT's Player's Only crew other than saying he feels fine and is staying in shape in case he is able to make a comeback.
As for the Heat roster, I don’t think many fans would be disappointed if this roster is as good as it gets this season.