SUNDAY BUZZ COLUMN
With the Heat remaining non-committal about whether Chris Bosh will be cleared to play, one issue that has been discussed is whether Bosh should come off blood thinners or continue taking them, according to a person briefed on the matter.
If Bosh comes off the medication this summer, there’s no reason why he couldn’t play.
But even if he stays on the thinners, Bosh has tried to convince the Heat to allow him to play while taking a new medication that would be out of his system in 8 to 12 hours, or by game-time, thus lessening or eliminating the inherent risks of playing a contact sport while on thinners. As we reported last month, the Heat rejected that idea late this past season, angering Bosh. And it’s unclear if Miami would be receptive to that now.
An NBA-employed friend says Bosh very much wants to play and believes he should be cleared. If the Heat fights him on this, it wouldn’t be surprising if Bosh takes this issue to the players union, unless Bosh again relents as he did during last year’s playoffs. Pat Riley said the Heat won’t make a decision on Bosh’s status until August or September.
With Bosh having two blood clot episodes in consecutive Februaries (one in his leg that traveled to his lungs, another in his calf), we asked two doctors not involved in his treatment whether they would clear him to play.
One doctor, UHealth’s Robert Myerburg, said Bosh wouldn’t be at serious risk playing if he’s off the blood thinners, but he has been skeptical of Bosh's idea of playing while taking thinners that would be out of his system in 8 to 12 hours.
“Someone who has had a second clot is more likely to have another, but the specific circumstances of an athlete might be different,” said Myerburg, considered an expert on athletes’ medical conditions and cardiology.
“If you take the total population of people who have had this thing, once you had a second, you're at risk for a third. But that doesn't get into the issue of how a subgroup [such as pro athletes] may behave because of things that make them more prone for blood clots.”
Bosh told reporters last September that he does not have the gene that makes him predisposed to keep getting clots.
That’s key, Myerburg said, because it means he doesn’t absolutely need to take blood-thinners the rest of his life.
“Once you’re off the thinners and the clot is gone, there is no negative for him to play," Myerburg said. "If he develop symptoms in the future and gets on blood thinner therapy quickly, I wouldn't call that life threatening because he will be ahead of the game.
"[But] the debate in the medical community is because he's on, should he be on permanent [blood thinners]? That's a tough call. The data just isn't there to say he absolutely should or shouldn't. It becomes a judgment issue. So if there is no predisposing factors other than trauma induced, that's a judgment issue about whether to play.”
Because of that, Myerburg – while emphasizing his knowledge of Bosh’s case is limited to media reports -- said it would be “a tough call whether” Bosh should “resume his career” even though he believes playing (while off thinners) wouldn’t put him in serious jeopardy.
One possible solution, Myerburg said, is to take Bosh off thinners and clear Bosh to play but “if he has trauma to his leg” during a game or practice, “just take him out of action for a while, put him on anticoagulants, but not the full three to six months” typical for blood thinners.
Clearwater-based doctor Brett Levine said “without blood thinners, yes I think he could play next season. They already did the work up after his first bout of blood clots to make sure he wasn't one of those individuals who has a disorder that makes him prone to making clots, which from media reports was negative.
“So in my opinion you just hope this was an unlucky coincidence and you take precautionary, non-invasive measures to make it less likely for him to get a clot again. These include simple things like walking during long flights and perhaps at night have him wear a sequential compression device, a device they use in hospitals to prevent blood clots by applying intermittent pressure to the legs. Perhaps even do periodic Ultasounds to scan for clots which is also not invasive.”
Some in the Bosh camp remain angry and suspicious of the Heat’s intentions, wondering if Miami was motivated by clearing cap space. A Heat source insists this is not the case, that Miami wants him to play if doctors are comfortable with it.
If Bosh doesn’t play a single game this upcoming season, his $25.2 million salary for 2017-18 and $26.8 million for 2018-19 would be cleared this summer from Miami’s cap only if “a doctor that is jointly selected by the league and players association agree his condition is career-ending, or severe enough to put him at risk if he continues playing.”
But if Bosh pursues a grievance through the players union, the matter would become much more complicated.
Remember: A team cannot apply to remove a player from its cap until a year after his last appearance in a game. If Bosh doesn’t play again, that date would be Feb. 9, 2017. But if Bosh plays even in one game next season, that would re-set the clock for a full year. Cap expert Larry Coon said that player could never again rejoin the team that cut him under those cap-clearing circumstances.
• Gerald Green signed with the Celtics on Saturday, after the Heat expressed no interest in bringing him back.
• Among the things the Dolphins like about Arian Foster: his ability to break tackles. In 2014, he averaged a very strong 2.8 yards after contact; only Marshawn Lynch (3.0) was better, according to Pro Football Focus.
• Though ousted Andreu Swasey was popular, UM’s new strength staff, led by Gus Felder, is getting rave reviews from players.
“It’s a blessing,” defensive tackle Richard McIntosh Jr. said, making a point to praise Swasey as well as Felder. “There’s more emphasis on explosion, quickness, speed [under Felder]. We try to work on the whole body. It's a great training program that definitely will help us be more dominant in the fourth quarter and also with the running game.”
• Nearly five years ago, now Miami Jackson High defensive coordinator and ex-rapper Luther Campbell sued convicted Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro for defamation, seeking $15,000, after Shapiro said Campbell was "the first uncle who took care of players" and that Shapiro provided similar benefits when Campbell no longer could. The lawsuit says Shapiro's comments falsely accused Campbell of engaging in "illegal and immoral behaviors relative to college-age athletes."
Last week, Campbell quietly dropped the suit. His attorney declined to comment, but a source said it was clear that Shapiro was in no position to compensate Campbell if Shapiro lost in court. Shapiro, imprisoned since 2010, is serving a 20-year term; he’s now in a New Jersey facility and continuing to seek his freedom.
• At the MGM Grand and 11 other Nevada casinos, UM is 75 to 1 to win the national title (30th best) with a wins over/under of seven (most have bet over).
• Look for ESPN to announce that it’s hiring former UM linebacker Jonathan Vilma as a college football studio analyst. He will debut on College Football Live at 1:30 Monday, with a more expanded role to be announced closer to the season.
• As Andy Slater reported late tonight, Wei Yin Chen will miss Monday's start for the Marlins for an undisclosed reason, and as Jon Heyman reported, Jarred Cosart will take his place.
• With the trade deadline looming July 31 and the Marlins aggressively pursuing starting pitcher, they don’t have many high-end prospects to use as carrots. Well-regarded Marc Delpiano, hired last winter to help revive the Marlins’ minor-league system, said: “We’ve got some arms. We are going to have to homegrow our rotation. It’s a necessity in the game.”
Who are the Marlins’ best starting pitching prospects, aside from No. 1 pick Braxton Garrett? Delpiano cites Justin Nicolino (4-4, 3.10) at Triple A New Orleans; Jacob Esch (10-6, 3.72) in Double A Jacksonville (“has a chance to pitch in a major league rotation”), and Luis Castillo (7-3, 2.30) and Dillon Peters (8-6, 2.87) in high-level Single A Jupiter.
Delpiano says these are Miami’s top position prospects: four in low-level Class A Greensboro -- first baseman Josh Naylor (.265, 9, 51), catcher Roy Morales (.301) and outfielders Anfernee Seymour (.254, 33 steals) and Isael Soto (.244, 7, 27); plus three Double A prospects --- second baseman Brian Anderson (.209 in Double A in 40-plus game; .302 before that in Jupiter), left fielder Austin Dean (.247, 9, 52) and third baseman JT Riddle (.268).
Delpiano said owner Jeffrey Loria and president David Samson “have emptied the purse strings” to beef up the minor league system, including more money to sign six-year minor-league free agents.