Monday, January 11, 2010

SPORTS: Just a Thought About Bosh

Chris Bosh has been one of the top dozen players in the NBA this year, the key player on a middling Toronto Raptor team. When he's completely on, he's the best power forward in the league. And the numbers suggest strongly that he's been on, on quite a few nights.

He's in the top ten in scoring and rebounding. He's improved immensely as an offensive rebounder and isn't too shabby under his own hoop either. He's stronger and takes less guff from the thugs that inhabit other teams' front lines this year.

And he's got walkaway rights at the end of this year. And a LOT of people think he will exercise them. That lot includes just about everybody south of the 49th Parallel. And there are a few of the believers in and about Toronto too. They KNOW that Bosh can maximize his NBA income by staying with the Raptors for a max contract. They KNOW he makes a fair bit of tucker off the court here, although it would be more in some American cities. They KNOW he likes Toronto, a city that didn't jump on him when stories about supposedly being a dead-beat dad surfaced last year. When all the facts were exposed, it turns out Bosh is what we think he is, a very good man, a great athlete and nowhere near being a 21st century Shawn Kemp. And they KNOW Bosh wants to be THE MAN on his NBA team.

All things that point to staying in T.O.

On the other hand, Bosh wants to win, and this collection of Raptors might not have being better than above-average in them. The Hedo Turkoglu experiment has been more REALLY bad than good. You can count on the fingers of one hand, the number of games were the Turk has been a positive difference maker. DeRozan is a kid and he's a year, maybe two from being a positive force. Bargnani has awoken lately, but we've seen these spurts before. Does the tow-headed Italian really get it? It's not hard to picture the three just-mentioned players suddenly playing to their potential and Toronto being a tough out against anybody but Boston (who's just plain tougher than Toronto). Or things can continue to plod along.

And speaking of plodding, let me point out the defensive effort of Bosh, who always escapes notice while the Raptor points, especially Calderon, are accused of being turnstiles. He's undeniably the best defender on the team. But he's frequently NOT. And that's not good from a max-paid Leader. Sure, he comes off his man to participate in the defence with decent regularity. But there's a lot of shots of Bosh watching some other big lay the ball up from waaaaay tooo close. Best standing room only seats in the house. Not that he's the only Raptor guilty of doing it. Nor is he the worst, although Bargnani's commitment to D over the last while is starting to show Bosh up a bit. And Bosh has been awfully casual with the ball and with passes the last little while. Is he tired? Looks like it. Nothing like last year's December swoon after an MVP-like November, but he's in better condition.

There are other things about Bosh that keeps GM Bryan Colangelo awake at nights. Bosh isn't the kind of guy who will take the contract that pays him the extra dime, no matter where that might be. He wants to win and will be willing to give up money to do so. Just when you need your star to be a typical NBA mercenary, he ends up having principles that don't have to start with the principal. It's unlikely he'll go somewhere to play second banana, but the Lakers and whoever ends up with LeBron James or Dwyane Wade DO have inducements. I think those two stay, as will the West Coast Smirk in Los Angeles. But New York might have enough bright lights and pay packages to combine Bosh with Joe Johnson. And, by New York, I mean Brooklyn. As in the Nets. They will have the top pick (John Wall?), more cap space, a RICH Russian owner, and Brook Lopez, Yi Jianglian and Devin Harris. Lopez, Bosh, Yi, Johnson and Harris, with Wall and a group of kids coming off the bench isn't a bad makeup of a team.

Previously, I've said I would deal Bosh in a second, if Golden State would give up Andris Biedrins, Anthony Randolph and another piece. Last year, that piece would have been Jamal Crawford, who had fallen out of favour in the Don Nelson leaky boat. There would have been other bits and pieces involved, to meet trade regs. I still think there might be a trade there, but I suspect Monta Ellis and Biedrins wouldn't work out for either team. Golden State has to move Ellis and possibly Anthony Morrow, too. But they would just have to know Bosh wouldn't re-sign. So the whole trade is moot.

BUT, and you knew there HAD to be a but, I've got an idea. A three-teamer yet. Toronto would hook up with Houston (so near to Bosh's Dallas home, but far enough away not to be a distraction) and Minnesota. Both teams have a surfeit of point guards, which is unfortunate, because it would be nice to divest the team of Marcus Banks, but I can only do so much plotting. Here's the key players and their end addresses:Houston ends up with Chris Bosh.
  • Toronto ends up with Al Jefferson, Luis Scola and Chase Budinger.
  • Minnesota ends up with Trevor Ariza, Carl Landry, Brian Cook and Houston's #1 pick in the 2010 draft.
Okay, why does each of the teams want to do this deal?

Houston ends up with Bosh. End of discussion. That's why they make the trade. Heck, they might even throw in money AND some second-round picks to do this deal. Pairing Bosh with a true centre like Yao Ming next year would take a lot of the beating off Bosh's body that he currently suffers. He can't hate that. He's going to be a quickie plane ride away from Mom's cooking. Happiness could very well ensue.

Toronto gets out from under the "will Bosh stay?" cloud. And Jefferson's a beast who does a LOT of what Bosh does and is signed for three more years. IF he can stay healthy. That's the rub. He's an injury risk. But then again, Bosh hasn't been a paragon of health over the last few years either. I think Jefferson's got another level, if playing on a good team. And the reduced scoring capability could be covered by the other four starters. Luis Scola gives them a complete front-court rotation of bigs, moving into the third slot, after Bargnani and Jefferson, ahead of Amir Johnson. He's on an expiring contract. So if the mix doesn't work, then he goes, to be replaced next year by somebody similar. He's also sooooo smart and that isn't something we've seen a lot of in Toronto. Besides I think Reggie Evans could be spun in a package for an upgrade on the wing. Budinger is cut-bait, although I AM intrigued by his capabilities as a passer and as a shooter. He's just too slow for small foward and not big enough to play in the frontcourt.

Which brings us to Minnesota, the team without the star attraction after the three-way. Well, it appears that Jefferson and last year's wunderkind rookie, Kevin Love, can't co-exist afterall. Is it better to try and play Love and/or Jefferson out of position, or to get a young, rising small forward in Ariza to pair with Love. Landry is a lot like Love too. But he's used to being a second banana and won't cause much trouble. Cook is strictly an expiring contract. But then there's that number one pick, ex of the Rockets. Will be somewhere around 22, which isn't a jewel in the making. But gems have come from that point. There are all kinds of big men projects available around them. Wouldn't Greg Monroe of Georgetown look good to the Wolves? In essence, this trade boils down to that draft pick and Ariza, who's got talent, youth and a financially sane long-term contract for Jefferson's big ticket and chemistry problems.

Anyway, just a thought I had. Truth be told, Colangelo is riding the Bosh Express to the end of the line. He'll hope to ink Bosh to a six-year contract and be done with the whisper campaign out of Miami and places south of the Mason-Dixon Line. If he can't keep Bosh, he'll hope for just the kind of trade I've outlined in a sign-and-trade.

But I can dream.

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