Heat Gaining Steam in Free Agent Sweepstakes
LeBron James wants desperately to play with Chris Bosh. He sees Bosh as the key to a team that can win multiple titles. As such, he’s been trying to recruit the All-Star to Cleveland for several weeks. The capped out Cavaliers have even worked out a sign-and-trade with the Raptors to make it happen.
Everything is set for Chris Bosh to join LeBron James in Cleveland. Everything, that is, except Bosh’s approval.
The Toronto Raptors have told the Cleveland Cavaliers they will do a sign-and-trade with them for Bosh, according to several league sources.
The exact details of the potential trade have not been solidified, but Toronto likely would get Anderson Varejao and or J.J. Hickson, Delonte West, and perhaps Anthony Parker. A draft pick could be involved as well.
The Raptors are certainly doing their part to drive their departing power forward toward a potential union with James, disingenuously suggesting it would not be willing to cooperate in a sign-and-trade with the Miami Heat.
But Chris has not exactly warmed to the idea of playing in Cleveland. And for good reason. The average temperature in Cleveland is 49 degrees; the average temperature in Miami is 75 degrees. Cleveland has factories; Miami has South Beach.
And for a guy who’s so motivated by the money, he’d be paying approximately $750,000 more in annual taxes (state, net of federal deductions) in Ohio than on an equivalent contract in Florida.
Despite all the wrangling, an equivalent contract seems likely. Logic would dictate that Toronto will ultimately cede to Chris’ desire for a sign-and-trade if Miami proves to be his desired location. The capped out Raptors stand to lose their best and most powerful asset for nothing. A sign-and-trade would, at the very least, provide a $16.6 million trade exception, and perhaps a first round picks as well, with which to make a run at a player(s) of their choosing.
As Russian billionaire and Nets majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov can attest, a Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh tandem in South Florida seem inevitable, and would form one of the best inside-outside tandems in the game today.
If LeBron truly wants to play with Chris, there’s only one place that is going to happen.
If the temptations of his hometown prove too great, LeBron figures to stay in Cleveland, with only a mid-level exception upon which to improve the roster.
For his part, Pat Riley isn’t exactly resting in anticipation of LeBron’s decision. Riley has been in contact with the Mavericks in regards to potential trade opportunities, presumably involving Michael Beasley and Brendan Haywood.
The assumed trade scenario would include Beasley and a re-signed, reasonably-priced Jermaine O’Neal for Brendan Haywood and backup point guard Jose Juan Barea, and could present a nice option should James decide to remain with in Cleveland.
Brendan Haywood is at the top of an uninspiring free agent class of centers. He’s a skilled defender and a seven-footer who can finish open opportunities; in the NBA, that’s a combination that brings a serious paycheck.
The Mavs appear unwilling to offer Haywood, not the most motivated center in the league today, even an amount approaching the full mid-level exception, about $5.8 million. Haywood’s agent, Andy Miller, made it clear last Friday that his client, who made $6 million last season, won’t be signing for such dollars. Miami could make an offer around $7 million per year. That’s a substantial difference, particularly if it means playing alongside Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
Such a free agent trio doesn’t quite have the drawing power of a James/Wade/Bosh supergroup, but it could be the foundation of a contender: an MVP caliber wing, an All-Star caliber double-double power forward, and a big center with a mind for defense. It would also leave plenty of cap space for the Heat to pursue a potential Mike Miller or Kyle Korver to round out the roster.
It would appear that Pat Riley has been doing some quality behind the scenes work.