Chris Bosh is ready to step up after stepping away.
As he spent the start of NBA free agency half a world away, including a promotional appearance in Ghana, Bosh recognized that both his life and team were about to dramatically change with Friday's loss of LeBron James to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Yet even with James gone, Bosh still is hopeful of continued success for a Miami Heat franchise that has advanced to the past four NBA Finals. He showed that confidence by agreeing to an NBA-maximum five-year, $118 million contract with the Heat just hours after James' departure.
"We have so much chemistry," Bosh told the Associated Press. "We'll just be continuing without LeBron. It's starting a different chapter. It's exciting. I think it should be motivation for everybody to step up to the plate. We're fortunate enough to have some of the same guys. We should be able to say, 'Hey, we can come out here and compete no matter what happens.' "
Among Bosh's returning teammates are Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem, who are expected to have their new Heat contracts finalized shortly; Mario Chalmers, who reached agreement on a two-year deal Sunday; and Norris Cole, the lone Heat player under guaranteed contract at the start of free agency. Several other members of the 2013-14 roster also could return.
"I can't lie to you: I'm excited," said Bosh, who again is positioned for the type of leading-man role he held with the Toronto Raptors before joining the Heat in July 2010. "I'm excited for the challenge. I want to step up to the challenge. I feel this is a chance to prove to myself and others that I can still do this."
"Greg just wants to be somewhere where he plays," Conley said, with Oden appearing in just 23 games for 212 minutes for the Heat during the regular season, and in just three playoff games for a total of seven minutes. "He is open to a return."
When the Heat won the Eastern Conference finals, he was presented the conference-championship trophy to hold aloft at AmericanAirlines Arena, as a sign of appreciation from the organization for his comeback.
Oden did not sign until Aug. 7 last summer in his comeback from nearly four years of inactivity due to a variety of injuries. When he did make it back to the court starting in January, he was utilized either only at the start of halves, or late in games when they already were decided.
After a 1-5 run at the Orlando Pro Summer League, the Heat opened play in the NBA's Las Vegas summer league late Saturday with a 91-82 victory over a similar team of rookies and young prospects from the Houston Rockets.
The three players on the Heat summer roster who are most likely to advance to training camp all had their moments in the victory: Center Justin Hamilton, who finished last season on the Heat roster, closed with 21 points on 9-of-12 shooting and seven rebounds, along with five blocked shots; Heat 2102 second-round acquisition James Ennis, who spent this past season playing in Australia and Puerto Rico, closed with 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting and eight rebounds; and first-round draft acquisition Shabazz Napier closed with 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting, after struggling with his shot in Orlando.
The Heat's next game in Las Vegas is Monday at 8:30 p.m. against the Los Angeles Clippers.
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