MIAMI — Chris Bosh has almost certainly played his final game for Miami, with the All-Star forward’s latest health setback convincing the Heat that his plan to play again is no longer feasible.
Just like that, the last remaining piece of Miami’s “Big Three” grouping is gone.
Heat President Pat Riley delivered the news Monday, revealing that the team is essentially out of options with Bosh — especially after he failed a physical last week and wasn’t able to get cleared by team and other doctors to get back on the floor.
“Chris is still open-minded,” Riley said. “But we are not working toward his return.”
Bosh did not offer any immediate reaction to Riley’s words. He released another video through LeBron James’ “Uninterrupted” digital platform — Bosh’s method of getting his message out in recent weeks — a couple hours after Riley spoke, but there was no mention of what the Heat said about his status.
“It’s not a mention of if I’m going to play again — it’s when,” Bosh posted Monday to Twitter.
If so, it doesn’t seem like it’ll happen in Miami, and teammates said they were disappointed by the news.
“I never thought it was going to go that way,” Heat point guard Goran Dragic said. “I’m always a positive guy. It’s hard to accept that because CB, first of all, he’s a great friend, a great teammate. This morning when I found out, I was in shock. But the health is first. He’s got a beautiful family and he’s got to take care of them.”
Bosh is married and a father of five, with nearly $76 million left on his contract — money that’s guaranteed whether he plays or not. The Heat can make moves in February in an effort to get Bosh’s contract off their salary cap going forward, provided he doesn’t play in the interim. NBA rules stipulate that a player needs to be sidelined for a year before a team can begin such maneuvering.
“I’ve been talking to him all summer,” James told The Associated Press on Monday, speaking in Cleveland at Cavaliers’ media day. “It’s unfortunate what he’s going through, but I support him in whatever he wants to do. … That’s my brother and I look forward to seeing the next chapter.”
Bosh first dealt with a clot in February 2015, one that formed in his leg and went to his lung. The next clot saga started this past February, when another formed in his leg and a CT scan later found at least one other clot elsewhere — though Bosh hasn’t said where.
“I love CB dearly,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Monday. “It was tough to watch CB and his family go through this the last couple years. Your heart just goes out to him.”
Bosh wanted to return in last season’s playoffs, but wasn’t cleared. Riley said any speculation that the Heat are deliberately holding Bosh out in an effort to get freed from his contract is misguided.
“We never, ever thought about that,” Riley said. “If we didn’t care about Chris, we would have played him in the playoffs.”
Bosh said in another video earlier this month that Heat doctors wrote him off this past February when the second clot saga began, telling him then they believed his career was over. Riley strongly disagreed with Bosh’s assessment, insisting the team worked for months to help Bosh get healthy and back on the floor.
“He wasn’t just written off. Was not,” Riley said. “That may have been his perception because he simply didn’t want to believe what’s out there.”
With Bosh out of the mix, that means 11 of the 19 players who got minutes for the Heat last season are no longer with the team. Of the starters from Miami’s last game — Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals in Toronto — only Dragic and Justise Winslow remain, with Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng and Joe Johnson all signing elsewhere this summer.
Wade, Bosh and James were part of that celebrated “Big Three” in Miami, going to the NBA Finals in each of their four years together and winning two championships. Among the many framed photos in Riley’s office is one of that trio, the players each having signed the print in silver ink with the inscription “To Coach.”
They’re all gone now.
James left in 2014 to return to Cleveland. Wade left this summer to sign with Chicago, his hometown team. And now Bosh’s days with the Heat are done, barring some sort of seismic change in Miami’s thinking or the interpretation of his medical data.
“There is not a next step for us,” Riley said. “It’s pretty definitive with us in our position.”
AP Sports Writer Tom Withers in Independence, Ohio contributed to this report.