Miami Heat still trying to recover from setback that nobody was prepared for

Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh (1) reacts to a call during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

MIAMI — The Heat don’t do much excuse-making.

But they can easily use one to explain the financial situation they find themselves in this summer. The unfortunate story of Chris Bosh.

After LeBron James bolted to Cleveland from Miami in the summer of 2014, the Heat decided to build around Bosh and signed him to a five-year, $118 million contract. This upcoming season should have been the final one on that deal.

Instead, Bosh has played in just 97 regular-season games since signing that contract and is currently out of the NBA. The 34-year-old has not played in an NBA game since Feb. 9, 2016 because of blood clotting issues and was waived by the Heat last summer to clear his contract from their salary cap.

Is this the only reason the Heat find themselves capped out and right up against the luxury tax with a roster that couldn’t get past the first round of the playoffs this past season? No.

There have been some questionable decisions along the way that have pushed Miami into this situation. Matching the Nets’ four-year, $50 million offer sheet to retain guard Tyler Johnson in 2016 and making Hassan Whiteside a max player are moves that have certainly played a role.

Still, it’s difficult to bounce back from losing a franchise player in the middle of his max contract due to an unforeseen circumstance. What would happen to the Bucks over the next few seasons if they were to lose Giannis Antetokounmpo out of nowhere? What would happen to the Thunder if they were to lose Russell Westbrook in the middle of his max contract?

Probably not a lot of winning.

It’s easy to forget what the Heat could have been if Bosh was still playing. Miami traded four players and two first-round picks for Goran Dragic in the middle of the 2014-15 season to add him to a core that already included Dwyane Wade and Bosh.

Just days after that trade was made, Bosh was diagnosed with his first blood clot issue. When Bosh returned the following season, the Heat outscored opponents by 92 points in 44 games –26-18 record in those games — with Bosh and Dragic on the court together in 2015-16 before Bosh went out again due to blood clots.

So when the Heat are criticized for having no draft picks. Remember they dealt two first-rounders for Dragic with Bosh still in the picture, and the thought that a core of Dragic, Bosh and Wade would be good enough to contend in the Eastern Conference.

“I was looking at it like, OK, we just lost LeBron [James],” Heat president Pat Riley said of the Dragic trade following this past season. “We’ve got Goran, we’ve got [Luol] Deng, we’ve got Wade, we’ve got Hassan and we’ve got Chris. To me, that is a good enough team to get to the Eastern Conference Finals and maybe further if it stayed intact. And we got nothing but adversity after that. That sort of paralyzed us from cap space.”

The Heat, unfortunately, have some experience when it comes to losing the centerpiece of their roster to health-related issues. Miami also lost Alonzo Mourning in the middle of his prime prior to the start of the 2000-01 season due to a condition that required a kidney transplant, but he ended up returning to continue his playing career.

Miami recovered from the Mourning scare by drafting Dwyane Wade in 2003 and trading for Shaquille O’Neal to build a roster that won the franchise’s first championship in 2006.

But the Heat are still trying to recover from losing Bosh. It’s not an excuse, it’s the truth.

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