The Miami Heat’s Big Three era formally has come to a close, with the team requesting waivers Tuesday on forward Chris Bosh and Heat President Pat Riley announcing that Bosh’s No. 1 eventually will be retired.
The move is procedural, with the Heat having already reached an agreement with the NBA and the players’ union that Bosh’s salary-cap hit would not return to the team’s payroll going forward. The agreement allows Bosh to sign with any team at any time if he is not claimed during the league’s waiver period.
The timing of the move allows the Heat to spend the created cap space at Thursday’s noon start of the free-agency signing period.
Bosh has not played since the 2016 NBA All-Star break due to a recurrence of blood clots.
“Chris changed his life and basketball career when he came to Miami,” Riley said in a statement. “And he changed our lives for the better, in a way we never would have imagined, when he joined the Miami Heat. We will forever be indebted to C.B. for how he changed this team and led us to four trips to the NBA Finals and two NBA championships. He is, without a doubt, one of the greatest players in the history of the franchise.
“The number ‘1’ will never be worn by another player and we can’t wait to someday hang his jersey in the rafters. Today, we are both moving on but we wish Chris, Adrienne and their family nothing but the best. They will forever be part of the Miami Heat family.”
The request for waivers clears Bosh’s $25.3 million 2017-18 and $26.8 million 2018-19 salaries from the Heat’s salary cap. Bosh will receive the full payoff of that amount, through a combination of payments from Heat and contract insurance.
The salaries are the final two years of the NBA-maximum contract Bosh signed with the Heat in the 2014 offseason, shortly after forward LeBron James departed in free agency for a return to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Last summer, guard Dwyane Wade, the third component of the Big Three lineup that helped push the Heat to four consecutive NBA Finals and championships in 2012 and ’13, signed a two-year contract with the Chicago Bulls. The lone remaining Heat player from those Big Three rosters is power forward Udonis Haslem, who currently is a free agent.
In addition to Bosh’s No. 1, the Heat are expected to retire Wade’s Heat No. 3 and James’ Heat No. 6, with neither of those numbers issued since their departures.
Bosh and James joined Wade with the Heat in the 2010 offseason, with Bosh leaving the Toronto Raptors and James the Cavaliers.
Bosh famously grabbed an offensive rebound with 6.3 seconds remaining in regulation of Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals and fed Ray Allen for his game-tying 3-pointer, forcing overtime and eventually leading to the 2013 title with a Game 7 victory.
Bosh had planned to attempt a return to the Heat in September, but a failed physical left him sidelined for the season. He first was sidelined by blood clots at the 2015 All-Star break, missing the balance of that season.
Bosh, 33, has not indicated plans to return the league, but also has not ruled out the option.
The personable power forward worked as a studio analyst for six weeks of TNT’s NBA coverage and has expressed interest in a continuing broadcast role.
The Heat had the right to apply to exclude Bosh’s salary from their salary cap as soon as Feb. 9, the one-year anniversary from his last game played, but by working with the league, Bosh and the players’ association were able to reach an agreement that did not run the risk of Bosh’s salary-cap hit resurfacing on the team’s books should he return to the NBA with another team during the balance of his contract.
Riley hinted at the close of the season, after the Heat finished 41-41 and failed to make the playoffs for the second time in the three series Bosh has been sidelined, that the parties were working toward a resolution. There had been previous differences between the team and Bosh regarding the prudence of a possible return while on blood thinners.
“Look,” Riley said, “there isn’t anybody in this organization that feels worse for C.B. than I do. It got a little sideways at the end because of feelings and things of that nature.”
Bosh was an All-Star in each of his six seasons with the Heat and has been an All-Star 11 times in his 13-season NBA career. He ranks among the Heat’s all-time leaders in free-throw percentage (3rd), double-figure scoring games (4th), points (5th), scoring average (5th), free throws made (5th), defensive rebounds (5th), field-goal percentage (6th), field goals made (6th), free throws attempted (6th), total rebounds (6th), starts (6th), field goals attempted (7th), blocked shots (7th), minutes (10th), 3-pointers attempted (10th), double-doubles (11th), offensive rebounds (11th), games played (11th), steals (11th), 3-pointers made (tied-14th) and assists (20th).
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