Chris Bosh narrows his list to five
Chris Bosh has been rumored to have informed the Toronto Raptors that he’s narrowed his list of preferred destinations in free agency to five (of course, he’s denying it).
The list – which includes the Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat and New York Knicks, in addition to Toronto – was reportedly given to management in order for the Raptors to pursue a sign-and-trade deal.
That Bosh has selected to narrow the list to these five teams should hardly be surprising. Why?
- Bosh is clearly motivated by the potential to make maximum dollars. By either signing with the Raptors or pursuing a sign-and-trade transaction, he would take full advantage of the additional $29.4 million in salary his Bird rights would afford versus signing with an organization as an unrestricted free agent.
- Bosh is steadfastly keeping it as one of his top priorities to play for a winner. The Lakers are sure to be perennial championship contenders, while the Bulls and the Heat are both building toward that same goal.
- Bosh will keep a keen eye on the whereabouts of LeBron James. LeBron is rumored to be most interested in the Knicks, Bulls and Heat. Each has the capability, with varying degrees of roster maneuvering, to sign both to maximum contracts.
If – or perhaps more accurately when – Bosh leaves, the Raptors will be looking to work out a sign-and-trade transaction. The Raptors will not get a player equal to the skill of Chris Bosh. Owner Brian Colangelo will, however, do everything within his power to maximize Bosh’s return value.
The Raptors are certain to push hard for a swap of Bosh for Andrew Bynum of the Lakers as their preferred alternative. Around the time of February’s trade deadline, rumors of such a blockbuster swap shook the basketball world. A one-for-one swap would be permissible under CBA rules despite the difference in salaries (with Bynum set to earn $13.7 million next season to Bosh’s $16.6 million). However, a deep Lakers playoff run could nix those plans in an instant. Just seven more wins now stand in the Lakers’ way from the ultimate prize.
Second in line for the Raptors would be the Knicks’ David Lee. Lee and Bosh could be involved in a two-man sign-and-trade agreement. This alternative would only seem plausible, however, if the Knicks landed LeBron James as well – as Bosh would need to endorse such a trade for it to be successful.
At this point, the odds would appear to suggest a six-year stay with either the Bulls or the Heat. Neither would require James as a prerequisite. The Heat (presumably) would already have Dwyane Wade in place, while the Bulls would have Derrick Rose. Either organization could build a championship-contending team featuring Bosh as its primary low post presence.
In terms of tradable pieces, the Bulls would seem to have a slight advantage over the Heat. A Bosh-less Toronto team would covet center Joakim Noah to play alongside Charmin-soft Andrea Bargnani in the frontcourt. Rookie power forward Taj Gibson also showed some nice promise. Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich are also valuable pieces, but each is highly compensated and plays at a position in which the Raptors already possess richly compensated individuals the team would love to jettison. The Heat has but one name of supposed interest, a name we all know quite well – Michael Beasley.
In terms of desire, the Heat seems to have the slight advantage. Of the two teams, each with cap space to sign him outright, Miami would seem the more willing to take a big hit in young “talent” and draft picks as well.
Don’t forget about Orlando. The Magic didn’t make the list, but that’s probably because Chris wouldn’t have dreamed it would be an option. Now on the brink of elimination from the playoffs and holding several valuable pieces, Orlando could be enticed to make a compelling offer.
Bear in mind that no matter how any potential sign-and-trade agreement is structured, as long as Chris Bosh is the only Raptor player included and Toronto takes on less than his $16.6 million salary in return, the Raptors would receive a trade exception for the difference in salaries. Toronto could theoretically trade Bosh, with his consent, to the Heat in exchange for nothing in return… and then utilize the $16.6 million trade exception to pursue the players of its choosing in free agency. The value of the trade exception would be reduced if Beasley were included, and further reduced if Daequan Cook were also included.
So what does the list tell us that we didn’t already know? Nothing.