Miami's post-LeBron plan

Can Bosh emerge as the Heat's leader? Is the supporting cast good enough?

Updated: July 15, 2014, 9:23 AM ET
By Tom Haberstroh | ESPN Insider

BoshMike Ehrmann/Getty ImagesChris Bosh has a max contract that he must now live up to in Miami.

For years, Erik Spoelstra has maintained that Chris Bosh is the most important player to the Miami Heat's championship quest. Well, we're about to find out how true that statement really is.

As the calculus goes, LeBron James might have been the best player on the Heat roster, but their small-ball system hinged on the 6-foot-11 Bosh's two-way versatility and array of skills. Perhaps James had the best talent, but Bosh made it all happen.

Losing James is a crushing blow to the Heat. But we can't question the Heat's resolve after their best player spurned them Friday to rejoin Cleveland. The Heat put their money where their mouth is, handing Bosh the five-year max of $118 million and keeping him in-house until 2018-19, by which time he will be 35. They didn't only give Bosh a truckload of money; they offered him the opportunity to prove he can still be the dominant big man who averaged 20.3 points and 9.3 rebounds in seven seasons in Toronto.

Is Bosh worth the max? And are they smart to build around him? Let's take a sneak peek into the Heat's post-LeBron era.