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.

Giannis Antetokounmpo says of Evan Mobley, ‘He can be better than me’

Cleveland Cavaliers v Milwaukee Bucks
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Evan Mobley hasn’t taken the leap forward in his second season many expected, partly because he has to adjust to playing with a new, dominant backcourt in Cleveland of Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland. Mobley is getting nearly five fewer touches a game and is not getting the same chances to use his off-the-bounce skills (73% of his shots this season come off zero or one-dribble) as he did when he was a rookie.

That doesn’t mean his superstar potential has gone away. Just ask Giannis Antetokounmpo, as Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer did.

“He can be better than me,” Antetokounmpo told cleveland.com in an exclusive interview while walking out of Fiserv Forum… “I don’t see why he can’t. It’s up to him. I will always try to improve. Every day. But he has the skill set to be a very, very good player. He’s 7-feet tall. He can move really well. He can shoot. He is very smart. As you said, he watches tapes of other players, which is very, very good for a young player. If he takes this seriously, he is going to be great.”

Better than Giannis? What could possibly make him say that?

“I didn’t average what he is in my second season, so he’s already ahead of me,” Antetokounmpo told cleveland.com. “It’s in his hands. If he stays humble, continues to work hard, focuses on the game and shows love to the game of basketball, he is going to be really good.”

One of the players Mobley is known to study on tape is Antetokounmpo. Of course, mirroring the force and athleticism Antetokounmpo plays with is next to impossible, but Mobley has the skill set that could see him become a shot-creator and scorer on the wing with the ball.

The Cavaliers don’t need him to be that with Garland improving and Michell being better than advertised. Cleveland has a top-five offense and hasn’t had to turn to Mobley for more scoring and shot creation. But that can change, especially come the playoffs against the strong defenses of teams such as the Bucks and Celtics. Ultimately, how far these Cavaliers can go in the postseason over the next few years could come down to the growth of Mobley on the offensive end.

Antetokounmpo believes Mobley could be special in that role, which should give fans in Cleveland even more hope.

 

Watch Giannis throw down career-high nine dunks, score 38 in comeback win over Cavaliers

Cleveland Cavaliers v Milwaukee Bucks
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MILWAUKEE — Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks taught the Cleveland Cavaliers a lesson in playoff-type intensity well before the start of December.

Antetokounmpo scored 38 points and the Bucks capitalized on a 23-2 run in the first eight-plus minutes of the third quarter to rally past Cleveland 117-102 on Friday night to snap the Cavaliers’ four-game winning streak.

Milwaukee came back from a 16-point deficit by outscoring the Cavaliers 35-10 in the third period. The Bucks hadn’t outscored a team by such a wide margin in a single quarter since Jan. 4, 2019, when they outscored the Atlanta Hawks 43-14 in the opening period of a 144-112 victory.

“We had a little bit of luck on our side and were able to knock down some shots and get downhill and were able to get that momentum and keep it going,” said Antetokounmpo, who also had nine rebounds and six assists. “I think it started from our guards defending the pick-and-roll and Brook (Lopez) just contesting every shot on the defensive end.”

The Cavaliers hadn’t scored less than 15 points in any quarter this season before Friday.

“They turned it up to a level that we haven’t seen, that we haven’t experienced,” said Donovan Mitchell, who led he Cavaliers with 29 points. “That’s playoff basketball, and understanding that they’re going to turn up the physicality (and) everything has to be sharper, everything has to be more precise.”

Darius Garland added 20 for Cleveland. After combining to shoot 14 of 26 and score 38 points in the first half, Mitchell and Garland went 4 of 16 for 11 points over the final two periods.

Cleveland’s Jarrett Allen played only 12 minutes and scored one point before leaving with a hip injury.

The Cavaliers lost for the first time since their last visit to Milwaukee, a 113-98 Bucks victory on Nov. 16.

“We were trying so hard, and we were like running in quicksand,” Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff said of the second-half struggles.

Jevon Carter scored 18 points and Bobby Portis had 14 for the Bucks.

After trailing 63-52 at halftime, the Bucks turned the game around in the third quarter.

“It felt like us again,” Portis said. “I feel like for the last couple of games, we haven’t felt like ourselves, for real, missing a lot of shots and just not playing how we play.”

Jrue Holiday, who committed three fouls in the first 1 1/2 quarters, scored his first points of the game in the opening minute of the third. He followed that up with a 3-pointer.

Carter then found Antetokounmpo for a dunk, though Antetokounmpo missed a free throw that would have given him a three-point play. Mitchell scored to extend Cleveland’s lead to 65-59, but a Brook Lopez 3-pointer and an Antetokounmpo dunk cut the lead to one.

Lopez then recorded one of his six blocks to set up an Antetokounmpo 3-pointer that gave the Bucks their first lead of the night with 7:19 left in the third. The Bucks eventually led by as many as 22.

“This is a great lesson for us,” Bickerstaff said. “We played against an established team who knows where they need to go when they need to take it to another level. That’s what we’re learning. They took the game to playoff-level physicality, and those are things we have to learn how to compete against.”

Watch Bam Adebayo score 38, lift Heat to win over Wizards

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MIAMI — Bam Adebayo scored a season-high 38 points and the Miami Heat beat the Washington Wizards 110-107 Friday night.

Caleb Martin added 20 points and Kyle Lowry finished with 13 points while Tyler Herro had 11 points and 10 assists for the Heat, who won their second straight at home against Washington after their 113-105 victory Wednesday.

Adebayo’s two free throws with 1:37 remaining put Miami ahead 105-104 lead then extended the advantage on a short jumper with 38 seconds left.

“It was one of those things where my teammates gave me the ball and I was taking advantage of the mismatch,” Adebayo said. “They were shots (Washington) let me have.”

Adebayo has scored in double digits in all 18 of his appearances this season. He’s had double-doubles in half of those games; Miami is 6-3 in those contests.

“He had a lot on his shoulders, really the last several games with a lot of different lineups and everything,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “You need that stability from your leaders. I think at some point we’ll print up these shirts, `Mr. Reliable,’ and I’ll wear them, probably.”

Lowry also had eight assists, seven rebounds and a four-point play with 3:15 left for a 103-102 lead – the 11th of what would be 13 lead changes on the night.

And it was another close game for the Heat, who are already 4-3 in games decided by three points or less this season.

“That’s what’s happened really for, it seems like several weeks,” Spoelstra said. “It just feels like every single one of these games is going down to the last possession.”

The Wizards cut the deficit on Bradley Beal‘s dunk before Martin made two free throws with 12.5 seconds for the final margin, then hounded Beal defensively on the game’s last possession and forced the Wizards’ All-Star into a miss to end the contest.

“I take pride in trying to make stops,” Martin said. “Those are the types of situations you dream about, game on the line against a guy like Bradley Beal with the ball late shot clock. I just tried to make it as tough as possible.”

Beal and Kyle Kuzma finished with 28 points Kristaps Porzingis added 18 points for the Wizards.

“We did enough throughout the course of the game to put us in position to win,” said Beal, who returned from a one-game absence because of a quadriceps contusion. “We had several leads and ended up giving up those leads late. It was a matter of us getting stops at the defensive ends.”

Heat leading scorer Jimmy Butler (right knee soreness) missed his fifth straight game because of right knee soreness while shooters Max Strus (right shoulder impingement) and Duncan Robinson (left ankle sprain) also sat out.

The Heat rallied from a 12-point deficit late in the first quarter and cut it to 59-56 at halftime.

“Obviously, we had shots late that were makeable to keep them at bay,” Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. said.

Another Hornets injury: Hayward out indefinitely with fractured shoulder

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The basketball gods have not been kind to the Hornets this season. LaMelo Ball missed the start of the season with a sprained ankle, got back and played just three games before re-injuring it by stepping on a fan’s foot while chasing a loose ball out of bounds. Miles Bridges will not be with the team. Cody Martin had his knee scoped and is out, and Dennis Smith Jr. is out with a sprained ankle — and that’s just the guys out right now.

Now add Gordon Hayward to the list. He is out indefinitely with a fractured shoulder. Shams Charania of The Athletic broke the news.

Hayward will be evaluated week-to-week his agent, Mark Bartelstein, told Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Hayward’s wife called out the Hornets for playing her husband when he had a broken bone.

Hayward has a long history of injuries and has battled shoulder issues all season. There had been hope in Charlotte that he could stay healthy long enough to contribute to some wins and build up some potential trade interest (his name came up in Russell Westbrook scenarios, for example). In the 11 games he played, he averaged 16.3 points and shot 38.1% from 3. Of course, a trade was always a longshot because Hayward is owed a fully guaranteed $31.5 million next season, no team was taking that on without sweeteners.

With him injured, a trade is out of the question (other than part of a salary dump).