MIAMI — Justise Winslow didn’t just feel Chris Bosh’s absence on the court this season, he also felt it in the locker room.
With Bosh’s locker next to his, Winslow didn’t have the 11-time All-Star to lean on in his second NBA season. Bosh’s locker remained empty during the year, as he was away from the team due to ongoing issues with blood clots.
“Chris Bosh was one of the main guys that really looked out for me,” Winslow said Saturday afternoon during an appearance at the NBA’s 3-on-3 competition tour at Bayfront Park. “He knew of me coming into Miami. My locker was right next to his. We grew that bond since Day 1, where if I ever needed anything or needed an explanation or I didn’t know where to be at a certain time he was always the guy right there to my right.”
But Winslow will have to get used to that feeling. The Heat moved closer to erasing Bosh’s salary from their cap on Friday.
An NBA doctor ruled in the Heat’s favor and agrees with the organization’s belief that Bosh is dealing with a career-ending illness, a league source told the Palm Beach Post on Friday. Bosh, 33, missed this entire season after failing a preseason physical due to ongoing issues with blood clots, and also sat out the second half of the previous two seasons due to blood clots.
“In this type of situation, you’re wish nothing but the best for that guy,” Winslow said. “I’m just extremely grateful to have not only a player like that, but a great man, Hall of Famer, by me every day in my rookie year in the league.
“I loved playing with him. He was a lefty like me. So we got along perfectly. Yeah, I wish I could play with him again. He has to do what’s best for him. It’s complicated.”
With this medical ruling, all that’s left for the Heat to remove Bosh from their salary cap is to officially release him. The Heat will not make that move until they feel they need that cap space, but they will make it official soon with the June 22 NBA draft approaching and free agency beginning on July 1.
“I don’t really know what to believe and what not to believe,” Udonis Haslem said when asked Saturday afternoon about the latest development in the Bosh story. “I was kind of staying clear of everything that’s been put out there until I speak to Chris personally. You never know what’s the truth. There’s a truth, there’s a lie and then somewhere in between is what’s really going on. So when I talk to Chris, I’ll talk to him about what’s really going on.”
After the Heat officially erase Bosh’s contract from their salary cap, they will have about $38 million in cap space this offseason. The agreement struck by Bosh, the Heat, the NBA and the players’ union will allow the Heat and Bosh to part ways without his salary ever returning to Miami’s cap even if he plays again.
Despite the latest ruling of a career-ending illness, Bosh could still return to the NBA if he provides medical evidence that meets league approval.
Bosh has not played in an NBA game since Feb. 9, 2016 because of recurring blood clotting issues. Although it won’t count toward the Heat’s cap, Bosh is guaranteed the remainder of his current contract with Miami — $25.3 million for 2017-18 and $26.8 million for 2018-19 — but a lot of it will be covered by insurance.
“Obviously he’s somebody I’ve had a tremendous amount of success with,” said Haslem, who mentioned that he last spoke with Bosh about two weeks ago. “Every time I step on the court, I would love to have him as one of the guys that steps out there and laces it up with me. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case. But you build relationships that go beyond basketball and all the time we spent together. My main concern is about Chris as a person, that Chris Bosh is healthy as a person. He’s one of the more talented people I know. He can pick up a million other hobbies and find something else to be great at. I wish him good health and everything that he desires.”