Scott already touched on this briefly in this morning’s edition of While We’re Waiting, but I wanted to expand on this a little bit. This rumor is going to send shockwaves around the NBA, particularly in any city that houses an NBA title contender. In case you’re unaware of what we’re talking about, according to ESPN’s Stephen A Smith, Chris Bosh has informed the Toronto Raptors’ GM Bryan Colangelo that he will not be re-signing with the Raptors when he becomes a free agent in 2010.
This is a decision that can have a profound impact on the Cavaliers in so many different ways. I think it’s safe to guess that ESPN’s Trade Machine is about to get an insane number of hits as fans throughout the NBA try to figure out ways their teams can get their hand on Bosh. But does this really mean the Raptors will trade Bosh?
There are a couple different ways to look at this. First and foremost, it’s important to remember this is a rumor. Stephen A Smith also said a while back that he knew first hand that LeBron James had definitely already decided he was going to New York in 2010. It’s more than possible that this rumor is a similar jump to a conclusion by SAS. It’s entirely possible that this was just Bosh speaking out of frustration. The Raptors made off season moves that they felt were putting themselves into position to contend in the Eastern Conference this year. Instead, they are currently 19-30 and in dead last in the Atlantic Division. They are 21 games behind Boston, and they are 4 games behind Milwaukee for the 8th spot in the East. The Raptors have the 2nd worst record in the East and the 4th worst record in the entire NBA. Everyone in the Raptors organization is bewildered and frustrated. So it’s possible that Bosh merely voiced his frustration to Colangelo and said something along the lines “If you don’t get this team turned around by next year, I’m out of here.” We just don’t know.
But lets pretend it is indeed true. Lets assume for a minute that Bosh really has told Colangelo that he will not stay in Toronto. Now what does Colangelo do? The obvious assumption is that he tries to trade him immediately. But I’m not so sure.
The Raptors have some really good players on their team. It is inexcusable that they have played so poorly this year. Jose Calderon, when healthy, is an elite PG. Jamario Moon has slipped a bit this year, but he’s still a more than capable SF. Anthony Parker is another player who has regressed this year, but still has a lot of talent. Colangelo could decide to just trade Jermaine O’Neal now for an expiring contract to free up $22 million in cap space and go after the absolute best player available this off season in an attempt to make one last run with Bosh next year. Then, if things aren’t working out next year, he could still trade Bosh at that time. Besides, nothing is ever permanent. Just because Bosh says he’s leaving now, that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t change his mind if Colangelo can put together a contender next year. You just never know.
In the case of Colangelo trying to trade Bosh now, though, you know Danny Ferry and the Cavaliers will be frothing at the mouth at the chance to get Bosh on the team now. Imagine that. Not only will the team who acquires Bosh be getting a franchise player, they will also be getting his Bird rights and will be able to exceed the salary cap to re-sign him in 2010. Safe to say, this potential trade is huge for the balance of power in the NBA, not just for the next year and a half, but for the future as well. You have to assume that whoever gets his services will be the odds on favorite to sign him in 2010. Beyond that, whichever team gets Bosh and his Bird Rights may be in the best position to sign LeBron James as well in 2010 should LeBron decide to leave Cleveland. Any trade of Bosh is going to have massive implications for the entire league.
Here’s the problem for the Cavaliers, though. There’s no way Colangelo trades him for just the cap space. You don’t trade a guy like Bosh and not make sure you’re getting young talent with potential in exchange. If Chris Bosh doesn’t want to be in Toronto right now, what’s to say any of the other big free agents in 2009 or 2010 will want to go there, either? Especially without Bosh there. It’s similar to if LeBron leaves Cleveland. Will the Cavs be able to replace him right away with a different marquee superstar? It seems pretty unlikely.
So the Raptors will want players they can build around. I’ve been playing around with the Trade Machine trying to find anything that will work for the Cavaliers. Salary-wise, Bosh for Szczerbiak works, but there is absolutely no way that would ever happen. So you have to add some guys going to Toronto. One trade that works salary-wise is Chris Bosh, Andrea Bargnani, and Jason Kapono to Cleveland for JJ Hickson, Anderson Varejao, Wally Szczerbiak, and Sasha Pavlovic, along with the Cavs first round draft pick. This gives the Raptors some young guys with some ability in Hickson and Varejao. It gives them a versatile SG in Pavlovic. It also gives them both financial flexibility and future cap space. They can choose to re-sign Varejao if they want him, or they can let his contract expire and take the cap space. Same with Pavlovic next year. Hickson can be a guy to give them solid contributions for years to come. It allows the Raptors to also get rid of a couple under-performing players in Bargnani and Kapono.
It’s not the greatest trade in the world for Toronto, but it’s about the only trade that I could see even being remotely close to acceptable for the Raptors. The problem with this trade is two-fold. First of all, the Raptors can get way better deals from Miami, Dallas, and New York. The Heat can send guys like Daequan Cook and Shawn Marion to Toronto. The Mavericks can move a Josh Howard. The Knicks can send over players like David Lee and Al Harrington. The reason these teams can afford to send better players than Cleveland can is because those teams aren’t contending for a title this year.
Sure, the Cavaliers could offer guys like Mo Williams, Daniel Gibson, or Delonte West, but the Cavs are in the midst of a Championship run here. That’s the 2nd problem with any proposed trade with Toronto. Can the Cavaliers really afford to lose all those guys from a team with the 2nd best record in the East right now? I don’t know. A starting lineup of Mo Williams, Delonte West, LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas is pretty formidable to say the least. But then the bench would only consist of Daniel Gibson, Tarence Kinsey (assuming he is able to return), Ben Wallace, Lorenzen Wright, Darnell Jackson, Jason Kapono, and Andrea Bargnani. It’s an interesting mix of players, but how would the chemistry work? This raises so many questions.
I really don’t think the Raptors would consider accepting this or any trade from the Cavaliers, but if by chance they would, I think the Cavaliers would have to do it. Yes, you may be throwing this year’s team off a little bit, but they would have the chance to keep Bosh and LeBron together for the next 10 years, and that’s a situation you just don’t say no to.
So once again, we turn it over to you, our readers. What would you do? Can you come up with a trade scenario that works with the Trade Machine? Perhaps a 3 team trade where Wally goes to a team looking for cap space, and then that team sends a good young player to Toronto, and Bosh comes to Cleveland? See what you can come up with and let us know.