The Miami Heat saved confirmation of their biggest move of the NBA offseason for last, announcing Wednesday the signing of center Chris Bosh.
While terms were not formally announced by the team, Bosh agreed to a five-year, $118 million contract earlier this month, a deal the Heat sweetened in the immediate wake of forward LeBron James leaving for the Cleveland Cavaliers as a free agent.
"Chris Bosh is a two-time NBA champion and one of the most versatile big men in the league," Heat President Pat Riley said in a statement. "His unique skill set makes him one of the best players in the game today.
"I've always felt he was committed to this organization, this staff and this city. I think he's going to have the opportunity of a lifetime leading this team next season and having the nine-time NBA All-Star back in the fold was a big key for us. We are very blessed to have him."
Bosh had been on the verge of joining Dwight Howard and James Harden with the Houston Rockets before Riley raised the offer to the versatile big man with a deal that starts with a $20.6 million salary for the coming season. Bosh had been amenable to a lower starting salary, and a possible shorter term, had James returned.
Like James and Heat teammate Dwyane Wade, Bosh had opted out of the final two years of his previous Heat contract the final week of June, when he otherwise would have earned $42 million over these next two seasons.
The formal announcement of Bosh's deal comes in the wake of the Heat announcing free-agent agreements with Wade, Luol Deng, Josh McRoberts, Danny Granger, Mario Chalmers, Chris Andersen and Udonis Haslem, as well as draft-level contracts with 2014 first-round pick Shabazz Napier and 2013 second-round pick James Ennis. Already under contract to the Heat were guard Norris Cole and center Justin Hamilton.
The finalizing of Bosh's deal was delayed due to the center's month-long vacation that included time in Africa.
Bosh has appeared in 796 games (784 starts) during his 11-year NBA career, averaging 19.2 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.10 blocks and 35.9 minutes, while shooting .498 percent from the floor and 80 percent from the foul line. The nine-time All-Star has appeared in 287 games (all starts) for the Heat over the last four seasons, averaging 17.3 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 34.1 minutes while shooting .509 from the field and .813 from the foul line.
Among the Heat's all-time leaders, he ranks third in free-throw percentage, fourth in field-goal percentage, seventh in blocks (273), ninth in free throws made (1,077) and defensive rebounds (1,652), 10th in points (4,976), field goals made (1,894), total rebounds (2,116), and double-figure scoring games (260), 11th in double-doubles (60), 122th in starts, 13th in offensive rebounds (464), and minutes (9,787), 16th in games played and 18th in steals (256).
Last season, Bosh started all 79 games in which he appeared and averaged 16.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.01 steals in an average of 32 minutes, while shooting .516 from the field and 82 percent from the foul line. He totaled a career-high 80 steals and connected on a career-high 74 3-pointers. He has now totaled 111 3-pointers during his Heat career, the most by a player 6 feet 11 or taller in franchise history.
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