Each week, we'll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day.
What does the absence of Chris Bosh mean for the Miami Heat this season? And long term?
David Aldridge, NBA.com: Just a devastating loss this season, especially coming on the heels of Dwyane Wade's departure to Chicago. Hard to see where the team's leadership will come from this season in his absence. Long term, if Miami ultimately can take the remaining $75 million of Bosh's deal off its cap, it could at least take a run at significant free agents next summer. It could turn out okay; there's an unending stream of players enamored with South Beach. But that seems a long way away.
Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: All those folks who set their hair ablaze over the Big Three "distortion" of NBA team-building and life as we knew it, they're barely carrying combs again and here that era already is over. LeBron's gone, Wade's gone and now Bosh is gone too, and media outlets are sending their hordes to the Bay Area for the even-shinier new thing.
Long term, I think the Heat will be better off for the abrupt endings with Bosh and franchise icon Dwyane Wade. With the Bulls giving Wade the fat, late-career, thank-you contract Miami figured to owe him, with a chunk of the $75 million remaining on Bosh's contract in line for salary-cap relief in February, president Pat Riley and coach Erik Spoelstra can rebuild without those legacy costs. The Heat can focus fully on the future and the development of its next-generation guys, such as Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson and Hassan Whiteside. Bosh has been a tremendous player and a terrific leader for Miami, but more than just turning a page, this ends a chapter.
Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: For now, it means the Heat are in the running for the lottery and potentially the No. 1 pick in the 2017 draft. Long term, if he's declared unable to play, the subtraction of Chris Bosh from the payroll gives Pat Riley a leg up on the next Miami rebuild, which will be his toughest.
Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: Losing Bosh would be important no matter what, but it's especially big with the perspective of Bosh and Dwyane Wade both departing without the Heat getting anything in return. Much different circumstances with the same bottom line. Bosh could have been high-teens/low-20s in points and six or seven rebounds if healthy. That's where the long-term comes in. Two big losses without compensation increases the odds of a bad season -- and a better draft pick. It's just not the implications the Heat wanted.
Shaun Powell, NBA.com: I wasn't sold on Miami being anything special had Bosh returned this season, at least not in any title-contending form. And so from that standpoint, his loss won't be felt. From a long-term standpoint, Bosh's best years were behind him -- not that he was aging quickly. Yet overall, Miami was better with Bosh than without him, on and off the court. Now they get to use his money next summer (assuming he retires) and shop for a replacement,which won't be easy.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com: It means that Hassan Whiteside is this team's franchise player, which is a scary thought. On offense, Whiteside is raw. On defense, he has the potential to be great, but his focus needs to be more consistent. He's yet to put it all together and he's already 27 years old, so he might not improve that much going forward. Yet the Heat just gave him a $98 million contract. That might not be a big deal if Bosh and Dwyane Wade were around to be leaders in that locker room. But now Whiteside is in the spotlight and it's unclear if he deserves it.
Sekou Smith, NBA.com: Chris Bosh's absence in Miami this season means they'll struggle mightily to be a playoff team in a reshuffled Eastern Conference. The moment Dwyane Wade decided to take his talents to Chicago the Heat's fate, at least for this season, was sealed. The only glimmer of hope was the prospect of Bosh maybe having a chance to get back on the floor. But Pat Riley's declaration Monday that Bosh's Heat career is "probably over" put a permanent dent in the Heat's prospects for this season. The leadership void among their main players is going to be glaring.
Ian Thomsen, NBA.com: It means they have to start over. For the first time since 2004 they have no go-to star on the roster. Without stars they cannot contend for championships, which is all that matters to Pat Riley. The best they can hope for this season is to develop Goran Dragic and/or Hassan Whiteside in hope that they may help attract a big-name free agent to Miami. But the odds are not good.
Lang Whitaker, NBA.com: If Bosh was healthy and able to perform the way he's played the last few years, he would have been the Miami Heat's best player. Without him? I would imagine they will do what they did in the playoffs and go small. Put Whiteside at center, Justise Winslow at the 4, Goran Dragic at point, and then find a couple of wings to get up and down the court. Defensively they'll be pretty good with Whiteside and Winslow in the paint. I just don't know if they'll be able to score points. And long term, if Bosh has to retire, the Heat will have lost LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Bosh without getting anything in return.
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