After a year on the shelf, Chris Bosh is 'still staying ready' for a comeback

Ball Don't Lie
<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/players/3707/" data-ylk="slk:Chris Bosh">Chris Bosh</a> watches from the bench as the <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/teams/mia/" data-ylk="slk:Miami Heat">Miami Heat</a> take on the <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/teams/cha/" data-ylk="slk:Charlotte Hornets">Charlotte Hornets</a> during Game 4 of the 2016 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Chris Bosh watches from the bench as the Miami Heat take on the Charlotte Hornets during Game 4 of the 2016 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

When TNT announced last week that Chris Bosh would be joining the panel of athlete commentators for its new “Players Only” broadcasts, many of us wondered whether the move to television meant we’d officially seen the last of Bosh — an 11-time All-Star who hasn’t suited up for game action in more than a year due to complications related to blood clotting — on an NBA court. Bosh addressed concerns surrounding his health during Monday night’s broadcast, but as he has at multiple junctures during his frustrating year of medical uncertainty, he kept hopes of a potential comeback alive.

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“I can’t imagine what you’re going through,” studio ringleader Chris Webber said to Bosh as they sat together on the “Inside the NBA” set. “How is your health right now? What is your state of mind? What are you going through?”

“Oh, my health is great,” Bosh replied. “I think one of the interesting things that I didn’t anticipate was my mental health. And 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. That’s something that I’ve really had to work on for my well-being, and it’s been great.

“My health is great,” he repeated. “Feeling good. Still working out, and just really still staying ready. [My children] are asking me when I’m coming back, so I’m getting pressure from them, too.”

While he’s “staying ready” for an NBA return despite signing on for five weeks of “Players Only” broadcasts on TNT, Bosh didn’t offer any details about his comeback plans or specifics on his ongoing battle with the blood-clotting problems that forced him out of action after the All-Star break of the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons, and scuttled multiple hoped-for returns to the Miami Heat.

Throughout his forced separation from the court, the two-time NBA champion maintained his intention to come back, continuing to search for treatment options and second opinions that would allow him to be cleared to play professional basketball once again. The Heat, however, resisted those efforts, reportedly and understandably unwilling to take the risk that a recurrence of clotting issues could have catastrophic consequences for Bosh’s health.

Despite Bosh’s confidence that he’d be ready to resume full activity by Miami’s September training camp, though, multiple reports indicated that the Heat weren’t yet comfortable clearing Bosh to play, continuing the impasse between the two sides and leaving a layer of haze and ambiguity over Bosh’s status.

In September, Bosh failed his Heat physical, casting his NBA future in doubt. But while multiple sources, including Heat team president Pat Riley, said before the start of the season that Bosh’s career with the Heat was “probably over,” Bosh continued to insist that he’d be “all right” and that the Heat medical staff’s decision not to clear him for NBA activity didn’t constitute the end of the line for his 13-year NBA career.

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And yet, Bosh remains under contract with the Heat, still earning a fully guaranteed (and team-high) $23.7 million for this season and in line to receive $52.1 million over the next two campaigns — until or unless Miami expunges him from its books. The Heat can apply to excise the final two years of Bosh’s pact from their balance sheet, owing to a provision in the 2017 collective bargaining agreement that governs how long-term injuries are managed in the computation of team salary, as detailed by Bobby Marks of The Vertical back in September:

If the Heat and their team of doctors determine Bosh has a career-ending injury, Miami would take the following steps to remove his salary if the team didn’t utilize the [Disabled Player Exception to open up a roster spot in Bosh’s absence]: 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.

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.

For example, if Bosh is medically cleared to play in 2018-19, the Heat will not incur cap charges until he plays 25 games.

The Heat have reportedly planned to wait until March 1 to start the process of parting ways with Bosh. Doing so would make sure he doesn’t play 25 games before the end of this season, allowing the Heat to clear about $40 million in salary cap space this summer, and ensure Bosh wouldn’t be eligible to appear in the postseason with any team that might take a chance on signing him before the year’s out. Bosh has in recent days been “in contact with the Heat’s medical staff,” according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, with the two sides “expected to begin the process of a separation at some point in March.”

During an appearance at last month’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the 32-year-old said he’d gotten “a taste of retirement” during his time away from the game, but that “there’s still a lot of things” that he has to figure out. Chief among them, it seems: whether he’s enjoyed that taste enough to let go of his comeback hopes, or whether he’s committed enough to keep “staying ready” in pursuit of one team to give him one chance to live out his NBA dreams one more time.

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Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don’t Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

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