Kurt Helin

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Chris Bosh does not want to retire, which leaves Heat in a quandary

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Chris Bosh wants to return to the NBA hardwood. Badly. He believes he can find a way to manage the potentially life-threatening (if untreated) blood clotting issue that has ended his last two seasons early.

Bosh will not return to the NBA court in Miami this fall, however. Miami Heat doctors said Friday Bosh failed his team physical, that tests revealed the blood clotting issue has not gone away and showed up in his blood work. They will not clear him to play.

The two sides are at an impasse.

And it leaves the Heat with a quandary — if Bosh doesn’t want to retire, the team has no good options.

Let’s go over the potential ways this can play out.

1. Chris Bosh chooses to retire. This is likely the option the Heat would prefer. It’s also not happening. Here is what Bosh said on Instagram Friday night.

“Little setbacks happen but that doesn’t change my intentions and what I want to accomplish.”

Or, look at what Bosh said in his recent self-directed video about the process of his return:

“If a doctor tells me, ‘Hey that’s it and this is how that is,’ and I don’t buy that. I have the right to disagree with you. I know inside me I have a lot talent and a lot of ability. I have it. I know I have it. It wasn’t a matter of if I play again, it was when.”

Bosh will not go quietly into that good night. He wants to get back on an NBA court, and he is not giving up that dream.

2. The Heat let Chris Bosh play. This also is not happening (despite the fact that the Heat would be a much better team with him; without Bosh it’s hard to picture the Heat in the playoffs). After the latest failed physical, with another sign of the blood clotting issue that ended his last two seasons, Miami is not going to risk putting him on the court. Bosh and his doctors will likely sit down and try to convince the Heat to let him play, but for reasons ranging from concern for his health to liability, the Heat are not going down that road. This is rather simple in one sense: If Bosh is healthy enough to play the Heat should play him, but clearly the Heat don’t believe he is physically ready.

3. The Heat trade Bosh. This comes up in my Twitter timeline every time we write about Bosh, as if this is some easy fantasy league swap. Here’s the problem: it takes two to tango. What team is so desperate as to give up quality assets so they can take on the three-years, $75.8 million remaining on a contract of a player who may never be cleared by the league to play? And even if he is cleared may not be able to finish seasons? What other team’s doctors are going to say the Heat doctors were flat-out wrong? Even if a team did step up, the NBA has to approve every trade and if it and its doctors think some team is ignoring serious medical issues just to land an All-Star level player, are they going to let the trade go through? Not if the league’s doctors think Bosh is risking his life to play. To put it kindly, the trade option seems highly unlikely.

4. The Heat and Bosh agree to a buyout and he becomes a free agent. This is unlikely from the Heat’s persepective because it is a severe salary cap hit. Remember, Bosh is owed $23.8 million this season and that number just goes up the next two. For argument’s sake, let’s say Bosh agrees to a buyout where he only gets half of the $75 million guaranteed he has coming (and there’s no reason for Bosh to do that), that is still an $11.9 million anchor on the Heat cap this season, and about $13 million each of the next two years. That will hurt their ability to land other free agents and rebuild this team. Miami isn’t going this route (unless Bosh agrees to a ridiculous buyout just to get away from Miami).

5. The Heat waive Bosh then in February apply to have his salary wiped off the books. This is what I think the Heat want to do (they could leave him on the roster until February then waive him, too), but this route also could leave the Heat with a massive salary on the books if Bosh does play eventually. One thing to be clear about here — Bosh would still get paid his full $75.8 million whether he plays or not. Miami still would write the checks, but if the league gets this ruling Bosh would come off the team’s official books, and that salary would not count against the salary cap.

Former Nets executive and now writer for The Vertical at Yahoo Sports Bobby Marks explained this option better than I could:

The Heat would waive Bosh, and on Feb. 9, 2017, apply to have his salary excluded because league rules stipulate that a team must wait one year from the date of the player’s last game. The determination on whether Bosh has suffered a career-ending illness will be made by a physician designated by the NBA and the players association and will not occur until Bosh has been waived and Miami applies to have the salary removed.

As noted above, I believe this is the Heat’s preferred course of action. But here’s the catch — and it’s a massive one for Miami:

If Bosh eventually returns from his career-threatening injury, the salary will be included back on the Heat’s salary cap. There is, however, a grace period of 25 games after the player returns to determine if he’s healthy enough to continue.

If Bosh does eventually return and play more than 25 games, Bosh’s entire salary goes back on the Heat’s books. All $75.8 million of it. Considering Bosh’s sincere determination to play again, can Miami take that risk?

My best guess is that the NBA, and likely the players’ union as well, will step in and help negotiate a solution that works for everyone. Maybe. If they can find a compromise. But if Bosh is unflinchingly determined to play and finds a doctor that backs his plan (and there are a lot of doctors out there with varied opinions), while team/league doctors are convinced it would be a life-and-death health risk to allow him back on a court (and to put up with the grueling NBA grind of travel and games), there will be no easy answers. For the Heat or Bosh.

Karl-Anthony Towns says he’ll miss Garnett, will pick up torch

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The greatest seasons in Minnesota Timberwolves history were led by peak Kevin Garnett, a team that could have made the NBA Finals had it not been for the Shaq/Kobe Lakers.

After going to Boston and winning a ring (then a couple forgettable seasons in Brooklyn) Garnett returned to Minnesota to end his career. On his return, Garnett was more mentor than player for a young team on the rise, and KG formed a particular bond with Karl-Anthony Towns.

Friday Kevin Garnett announced his retirement. Later that day KAT said he would pick up the torch from KG.

Chris Bosh: “Little setbacks happen but that doesn’t change my intentions”

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Earlier this week on The Uninterrupted, Chris Bosh released the first of his self-directed videos about his efforts to get back on the court following the blood clotting issue that kept him out the second half of last season (and ended the previous season early for him as well).

Bosh said in an Instagram post late Friday night he planned to release the second installment earlier in the day, after he was cleared to play in training camp with the Heat. However, that didn’t happen — due to results from the blood test of his physical that showed the potentially dangerous clotting issue has not gone away, the Heat have not cleared him to participate in training camp.

Bosh instead said he would continue to share his story, and that “little setbacks happen but that doesn’t change my intentions and what I want to accomplish.”

@chrisbosh offers an official response to today's news. #BoshRebuilt

A post shared by UNINTERRUPTED (@uninterrupted) on

The Heat believe Bosh may never step on an NBA court again. Bosh, as he has said before, believes he can overcome this and play again. The two sides are at an impasse. (And if you are about to comment “just trade him” answer me this: what team is going to give up quality assets to take on the $75 million contract of a guy who may never play again?)

This story is not going away for a while. And the Heat do not have many good options.

Around NBA, many teams already discussing need for social change

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MIAMI (AP) Whatever the Detroit Pistons decide to do when it comes to protests that call for societal change this season, they’ll have the support of coach Stan Van Gundy.

He’s urging them to make an impact.

As NBA teams began gathering Friday to start training camps – three teams hold their first practices Saturday, while 27 others get going in the coming days – an issue each is addressing is how players and coaches can help create substantive change in cities across the country. The NBA and the players’ union urged teams this week to develop ideas in a memo this week.

“No one can be happy with what’s going on right now,” Van Gundy said Friday. “I like what (Golden State coach) Steve Kerr said. Wherever you are on the political spectrum, I don’t think a thinking person can say, `This isn’t a problem.’ I mean, we’re shooting unarmed people – and you’ve got to think largely, they are seen as threats largely because of their race. I mean, it’s hard to fathom.”

Similar sentiments have been expressed around the league for months, as the list of U.S. cities dealing with protests -including Baltimore, Milwaukee, Chicago, New York, Ferguson, Missouri and now Tulsa, Oklahoma and Charlotte – over the death of black men at the hands of police.

Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul talked openly about it in July, standing side-by-side on television. At media days Friday in Oklahoma City, Houston and New Orleans, it was a major topic. Around the rest of the league, it’ll be the same Monday.

In a league where about 75 percent of the players are black and some have enormous social-media followings, plenty of eyes will be on the NBA to see what it does after NFL players and some athletes from other sports have taken to kneeling during national anthems or raising a fist in an effort to spark discussion about race relations and other matters.

“We’re not looking forward to protesting stuff,” New Orleans’ Quincy Pondexter said. “We’re looking forward to solutions.”

The NBA has a rule saying players and staff must stand for the playing of the national anthem, and 20 years ago Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf was suspended for a game for refusing to stand for the anthem. Abdul-Rauf, who did not respond to interview requests this week, said then that he felt the flag was a symbol of oppression.

Despite that rule, which the NBA did not mention in its memo to teams, Houston’s James Harden said protests on NBA courts are possible.

The Rockets All-Star called the decision by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to kneel or sit during the anthem “a powerful statement.”

“He’s standing up for what he believes in,” Harden said. “Devastating that all these people are just dying, dying for no reason. Families are grieving, just a tough situation, especially from men and women who are supposed to be protecting us. But each individual has their own beliefs on how they go about handling it and you’ve got to respect it.”

Harden said Rockets players will decide what to do individually. New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry wants the Pelicans to have a unified approach, a stance echoed by New York Knicks President Phil Jackson.

“We want them to do something that they all feel genuine about,” Jackson said.

New Orleans center Anthony Davis said seeing frustration and violence in recent months has prompted him to become even more community-minded, with hopes that actions go deeper than any words could.

“We have the power to do stuff other people can’t,” Davis said. “So I think we have to use that.”

For Van Gundy, it goes much deeper than just reacting to shootings.

He spoke at length about urging the Pistons to vote and how the organization responded to a water crisis in Flint, Michigan. He also talked about how Pistons forward Marcus Morris had a 6-year-old cousin injured by gunfire this summer; the boy survived, even though the vehicle he was in was caught in a flurry of crossfire.

Issues like those are why Van Gundy said the question of whether NBA players will kneel for the anthem is far less important than many might suggest.

“There’s so much to focus on,” Van Gundy said. “And I think it’s great that we have players that want to be part of that conversation, and a lot of players that want to go beyond the conversation and be part of the solution.”

Finding that solution won’t be easy.

“I don’t have an answer. Nobody has an answer,” Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook said. “If that was the case, we would have fixed it.”

AP Basketball Writer Brian Mahoney in New York and AP Sports Writers Noah Trister in Auburn Hills, Michigan, Kristie Rieken in Houston, Cliff Brunt in Oklahoma City and Brett Martel in New Orleans contributed to this report.

Blazers’ Festus Ezeli says he has no timeline for return, will miss start of training camp

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One of Portland’s big off-season moves was to snap up Festus Ezeli, the athletic Warriors’ center that Golden State had to let go as it reshaped its roster to bring in Kevin Garnett.

But questions about the health of his knees went back to free agency this summer, then last month he got an injection of bone marrow aspirate in there to help it heal. That was going to sideline him at least six weeks, but it seems it’s going to go a little longer than that. He’s going to miss the start of training camp.

He has no timeline for a return, he told Ananth Pandian of CBSSports.com.

“I personally don’t have a timeline,” Ezeli said while visiting at a Boys and Girls Club in North Portland on Thursday. “I’m taking it day by day because when it comes to this situation, you never go with a timeline. It will frustrate me if I go by a timeline. I just try to take it by how I feel so hopefully sometime soon I can get back on the court and start playing again.”

Portland is counting on the combination of Ezeli and Mason Plumlee to fill the roll up front that Robin Lopez played well last season. Ezeli’s explosiveness is a key to his game, and with that the Blazers know he needs to get right before he comes back. There will be no pressure.