|Everybody Loves Chris||
|What are the chances Chris Bosh stays with the Toronto Raptors?||10%||25%||.002%||5%||10%||10%|
1. How Will Chris Bosh's Situation Play Out?
Henry Abbott, TrueHoop: In general, it's crazy to think super-premium free agents would be signed-and-traded. But the scuttlebutt is that the Raptors are sufficiently convinced Bosh will leave -- to the point they'll be forced to try to recoup as much value as they can. Houston and Portland can make nice offers, but don't count out those teams who cleared all that cap space for LeBron James. Their front offices will be desperate to show their fans and owners something, and will work every possible angle.
J.A. Adande, ESPN.com: All the Raptors ask from Bosh is for him to give them a heads-up if he plans to leave so they can work out a sign-and-trade. It would help Bosh too because he'd get more money. The Raptors aren't looking for expiring contracts, so teams with salary-cleared depleted rosters -- such as Miami and New York -- could actually fall out.
Chris Broussard, ESPN The Magazine: Toronto will make sure it gets a sign-and-trade, so the Lakers (for Andrew Bynum or Pau Gasol) will be a real possibility. Bosh is smart enough to know not to go to New York without LeBron or D-Wade. Chicago and Miami have really good chances as well.
John Hollinger, ESPN.com: I think he's gone; it's just a question of whether Toronto does it by sign-and-trade (more likely) or Bosh walks on his own (less likely). I think there's going to be a feeding frenzy because teams know that unlike LeBron or Wade, there's a real strong chance Bosh will leave. In addition to teams with cap space, I expect several contenders to try to get involved with sign-and-trade proposals. There are too many balls in play to figure out exactly where he'll end up, but I'm thinking the closer to Texas you go, the greater the odds.
Chris Sheridan, ESPN.com: I foresee Bosh meeting with management in late May or June and giving them a list of teams he would like to play for, and the Raptors then seeking out sign-and-trade deals with each of those teams. At the end of the day, I think Bosh will move on via sign-and-trade because he will get a six-year deal and make $30 million more that way.
Marc Stein, ESPN.com: I fear I'm being charitable when I say 10 percent. It's probably closer to zero percent after the season Toronto had. I've believed for months that Bosh loves life in Toronto far more than most of us south of the border believe, but now I believe that major changes are inevitable/unavoidable after the internal tensions and disappointments endured by that team. The consensus expectation around the league is that Bosh is going to work with the Raps on a sign-and-trade so he doesn't leave them with nothing, but moving Bosh -- as opposed to finding someone who will trade for Hedo Turkoglu -- is the easiest way to start an overhaul.
2. Where Will Bosh Play Next Season?
3. The View From Toronto
Chris Bosh wants to stay in Toronto, but the Raptors just aren't giving him enough reasons to do so.
Raptors president and general manager Bryan Colangelo signaled to Bosh the franchise's desire to compete by trading for Jermaine O'Neal and signing Hedo Turkoglu the past two summers, but the moves turned out to be underwhelming.
"With Hedo," said Bosh in his exit interview, "looking back at it, who wouldn't have thought that signing Hedo and signing Jermaine wouldn't bring instant success? But it didn't work out like that."
Colangelo has already shown that he's serious about contending; he just hasn't shown whether he has the ability to build a team that does that. Bosh was on board with Colangelo's decisions, but now that they've turned out to be mistakes, his faith in the GM's and ownership's ability to put a winning product in Toronto is dwindling. Bosh is at the point in his career where winning is starting to matter more than personal glory, and whether the Raptors can provide that fix is questionable.
"I want to play in the postseason. I want to advance. I've been playing seven years. It's time to start thinking about stuff like that for me, because I don't know how many years I have left. I know I'm still a young player, but I remember when I got drafted guys were 25, 26, and now they're on their last deals," Bosh said.
If there's one thing to come out of this season, it's the realization that the defensively challenged starting core of Andrea Bargnani, Hedo Turkoglu and Jose Calderon (all tied to long-term contracts) is grossly inadequate, and Bosh is smart enough to know it. If Colangelo decides he wants a shot at keeping Bosh, he must offload at least two of those contracts, bring in nothing short of an All-Star caliber player, and administer a fix to the attitude around the clubhouse.
Perhaps bringing in a head coach who commands immediate respect based on a certified résumé, not just tenure with the organization, will also help.
The deeper question is whether the Raptors should bother applying more quick-fixes or enter an honest rebuilding process. If the latter is the case, Bosh has no reason to stick around and can provide Colangelo with the mutually-beneficial safety net of a sign-and-trade. The rabid Raptors fan base appears to be tired of false hope and would be willing to accept a rebuilding process as long as there's a light at the end of the tunnel, even if it means parting with Bosh.
Bosh is a man who is averse to change and has a comfortable life in Toronto that includes business interests, a vast social circle and the adoration of the fans.
"To stay or go is a life-altering situation," Bosh said. "I've only changed my life twice. That was going to college and declaring for the league. And now I'm at this point."
He'd much rather win here while being the face of the franchise, but if the GM fails to do enough, he'll be forced to leave in order to win, even if it means playing second fiddle.
Unlike Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady, if Bosh leaves, he won't be seen as the bad guy. Colangelo's got that honor all sewn up.
4. Salary-Cap Surprise
Special to ESPN.com
A cap as high as $56.1 million comes as a complete surprise. It still represents a drop of about $1.6 million from the current cap, which translates to a 0.5 percent drop in revenues from last season. But it makes a huge difference for teams that were hoping to use the huge 2010 free-agent market to reverse their franchise fortunes.
Teams that were a little short of being able to offer the full maximum salary to premier free agents will now find themselves with sufficient cap room to do so. Teams that were resigned to letting go of their own free agents to create cap room now have the ability to hang on to a player or two -- signing a free agent and preserving some of their depth at the same time.
Even the capped-out teams benefit from the April 16 announcement. With a higher-than-expected salary cap comes a higher-than-expected luxury-tax threshold. Teams firmly entrenched in luxury-tax territory, such as the Los Angeles Lakers, just saved about $3 million. These teams might now be more willing to spend their midlevel exceptions this summer.
5. Top 30 Free Agents
1. LeBron James, Cavaliers
The ongoing buzz surrounding LeBron's foray into free agency this summer has been the loudest in NBA history. Several teams have focused their entire strategy on having a chance to sign him or another superstar on this list.
But will LeBron actually leave Cleveland? The Cavaliers did their part in trying to convince him to stay when they pulled off a deadline deal for Antawn Jamison, who should help give LeBron his best shot at an NBA title.
Still, other teams will make a run at him, offering him a bigger market or more talented teammates.
The New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets were thought to be his biggest suitors, and they'll both have the money to pay him. But both teams are so depleted from a talent standpoint that he might not want to join them. A couple of other teams, including the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls, also will be far enough under the cap to pay him if he wants to go to a team that already has a superstar (D-Wade) or potential superstar (D-Rose) on the roster. And don't count out the Los Angeles Clippers, who have a lot of talent and the cap room to pay him after their deadline moves.
While I think LeBron ultimately will stay in Cleveland, he will create some thrills and some very worried Cavs fans if he shops around this summer.
2. Dwyane Wade, Heat
Wade's potential departure hasn't had nearly the same hype as LeBron's, for two reasons: (1) most people in the league believe Wade wants to stay in Miami, and (2) he turned 28 in January, so he's not the young franchise cornerstone LeBron is.
Still, there will be plenty of teams interested in Wade, especially the Chicago Bulls, who will try to court him back to his hometown. But the Heat will use Wade as a recruiter in an attempt to get one or more of the top free agents to come to Miami instead.
• To see all of the top available free agents, check out Chad Ford's complete list.
6. Is Bosh In Play?
Henry Abbott (TrueHoop)
I would have put this number a lot higher a few weeks ago. In Joakim Noah, the Bulls have the player to entice the Raptors in a trade. But the better Noah plays, the more Chicago might want to keep their younger and cheaper but extremely effective big man.
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Chris Broussard (ESPN The Magazine)
The Bulls are one of three teams, along with Miami and the L.A. Lakers, that I think have the best shot at getting Bosh. It would be a sign-and-trade with Lakers for Andrew Bynum or Pau Gasol. Dallas and Houston could also be sign-and-trade possibilities.
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Chad Ford (ESPN.com)
Bosh would be a great fit in Chicago. Paired with Joakim Noah on the front line, the Bulls would finally have the size to really compete in the East. The Bulls have been eyeing Bosh for months. I think they have Dwyane Wade ranked higher, however, so he'll have to be patient until Wade's future is worked out.
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Nick Friedell (ESPNChicago.com)
Absolutely. If the Bulls have their choice between Bosh or Dwyane Wade they should take Bosh. He is a better fit for them right now and would be a great complement alongside Derrick Rose. He and Joakim Noah would find a way to work well together in the post. If he comes to Chicago and the Bulls add a perimeter scorer in the offseason, they will be scary.
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Marc Stein (ESPN.com)
One team executive I trust implicitly told me this week that he's convinced Bosh will wind up with New York or Miami, but I see it as more of a New York-or-Chicago deal ... with Houston lurking as a threat no one's discussing much. The reason? I'm sticking to my belief that Amare Stoudemire is the Heat's main target. So if not the Knicks, Chicago strikes me as an attractive landing spot for Bosh with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah flanking him.
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7. Bosh's Take
"Nobody knows, not even me. That's something only the future holds. Everybody keeps looking for answers. There are no answers right now. There will only be answers when it's time.
"I wish I knew. I'd let everybody know so that everybody would leave me alone."
8. Forward Thinking
The Chicago Bulls have been searching for an All-Star power forward for years. Could Chris Bosh be the answer? He'd sure be a good fit.