First Bosh scoffed at folks who think he’s already made his decision to leave the league’s only Canadian franchise.
“He’s gone, it’s over, it’s done,” Bosh said in a mocking tone.
Then Bosh revealed that he’s not necessarily interested in playing anywhere that he’s not the clear-cut franchise player.
“That’s a good question,” Bosh said when asked by ESPN The Magazine’s Ric Bucher if he’s bothered by the widespread perception that he’s determined to follow either LeBron James or Dwyane Wade by signing on with one of the teams they choose starting July 1.
“It’s funny you say that, because I was thinking about it. I was just looking at what people say and it’s like, ‘Chris is going to go here and play with him or this, this and that.’ I’m like, ‘Wait a minute.’ I feel like I should be built around. And maybe that’s just my ego talking, but I feel that I’m a very good player in this league and I’m only going to get better. So … maybe we should be getting somebody [in Toronto].”
Yet Bosh did acknowledge that he will consult his Team USA colleagues James and Wade, for advice if nothing else, before re-signing with the Raptors or orchestrating a sign-and-trade move elsewhere.
“There’s nothing wrong with picking each guys’ brain to see where they’re at and how they feel,” Bosh said. “I think talking to other people [is something] that’ll help you make your decision a little bit more.”
Said Wade when asked during his own taping Thursday about behind-the-scenes lobbying: “It goes on at every All-Star Weekend. It’s been going on for the last couple [All-Star] weekends. It’s always fun to recruit. Everybody’s recruiting.”
Now you can shift the attention back to what happens with Bosh. With the team playing well and some of the other teams having as many question marks as Toronto about their respective futures, the state of the collective bargaining seemingly about to undergo a change, is it a time for Bosh to think about the extension that would give him an extra year with about $30 million that may be grandfathered into a new agreement?
Just ask: What will Miami look like as Dwyane Wade is a free agent this season? We know about the LeBron thing in Cleveland and Boston is aging by the game. Atlanta will be solid as they have grown together but oh wait, isn’t Joe Johnson part of the free agent bonanza this summer? That’s right he is indeed looking for a new deal. So you see, it’s not just Toronto but many other teams that will have some serious questions to answer at the top of the East.
For Bosh, the All-Star Game is business as usual. This will be his fifth All-Star appearance, although he was injured and did not play last season. He said that made it important for him to make sure there would be no doubt he was deserving of a spot on the Eastern Conference roster this season.
"I like All-Star Weekend anyway, but the fact that it’s in Dallas, I kind of had to make it," he said. "It’s just really exciting to have it at home with everybody I grew up with. It’s special for Deron, too. It only happens once a year and it definitely doesn’t happen in your hometown too often."
There is a camaraderie among the Dallas products in the NBA. They pull for each other, except when they play against each other.
And this weekend, they’ll party together, too.
"I’m not sure what parties we’ll be at together, but I’ll be all over the city," Bosh said. "I can’t wait."
Middle men: Centers Andrew Bogut (Milwaukee Bucks), Andrea Bargnani (Toronto Raptors) and Chris Kaman (Los Angeles Clippers) are playing like All-Stars in the low post, although only Kaman is in Sunday’s game. Bogut had career-high averages of 15.8 points and 2.1 blocked shots; Bargnani was at 17.7 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks; and Kaman averaged 20.1 points.
After last night’s performance, Bosh reached the All-Star break with per-game averages of 24.4 points and 11.4 rebounds. Yowza! You may not think that’s such a big deal. I do. I think only three other active players have ever averaged both 24 points and 11 rebounds per game at the break. I think only the Big Shaqtus, the Big Fundamental and the Big Ticket. That’s some pretty big company. Come and knock on our door. We’ve been waiting for you. Where the kisses are hers and hers and his, three’s company too!
There will be a lot of teams waiting for Chris Bosh come free agent time. Where once he was considered too much of a lightweight, Bosh now has added 20 more pounds of muscle and looks more like Randy Savage than RuPaul. Where once he was considered too fragile, Bosh has now played in every game this season. If LeBron does indeed stay in Cleveland, it seems with every game Bosh plays lately, the other guy just may end up being the guy.
While Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo could very well pull off a deal of some sort, this much can be said for certain: Bosh, on the eve of free agency, is not going to be dealt before the deadline in the name of the Raptors ensuring they get some sort of return for the forward.
"There haven’t been many inquiries [about Bosh] recently because we’re adamant about our position," Colangelo said before he and a group of Raptors employees and players, including Bosh, took off for Dallas for the All-Star Game yesterday.
That should have gone without saying. The Raptors have won 18 of their last 24 games, eight of their last nine, are a season-best six games over .500 and are just four games behind Boston for the Atlantic Division lead. They seem unlikely to reach Colangelo’s admittedly optimistic goal of 50 wins, but it is not completely out of reach, either. Trading Bosh now would make all of that meaningless.
Beyond that, though, there seems to be no need to further placate Bosh after what Colangelo did this off-season. This is not Vince Carter encouraging Glen Grunwald to deal the fourth pick in the 2003 draft — ultimately used to select Bosh — for immediate help. This is not LeBron James flirting with New York just enough that the Cavaliers feel it necessary to discuss taking on any player, despite a ridiculous salary, in the name of winning now and thereby keeping James.
The proposal the NBA sent to the players’ association for a new collective bargaining agreement seeks cuts from the biggest superstars down to guys not even in the league yet.
A person who has seen the document told The Associated Press on Thursday that first-round picks would have their salaries cut by about one-third and the minimum salary would be reduced by as much as 20 percent. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment publicly about the negotiations.
The total value of a maximum contract for a veteran also would drop below $60-million, as previously reported by ESPN.com. That’s less than half of what LeBron James can sign for this summer if he opts out of his contract and re-signs with Cleveland.
The person said owners “have made it clear they intend to rein in player costs across the board from every segment of the player population.”
He will be one of the most coveted free agents on the market this summer, a fact that has Raptors fans worried about losing another "franchise player." Not bad for a relative kid who should have as much as a decade left in his career.
"For me, it happened kind of fast, it got accelerated kind of fast," Bosh said. "I’m still a young dude and I get to do all this stuff. Get to play in the all-star game … be on this (Toronto) team, be a leader. It’s pretty cool what’s happened."
What’s happened this year is that Bosh has become one of the top handful of power players in the game. He’s bigger and stronger than he’s ever been, having spent much of the summer in the weight room and the gym trying to perfect his craft. He’s still got a smooth jump shot and a better inside game, he’s taking hits and giving them and is the only Raptor to have appeared in all 52 games this season.
Aside from the physical transformation, his close friends admire the mental adjustments he’s made. Bosh is more demonstrative, more vocal, more of a leader.
"It’s his demeanour, man," said Toronto guard Jarrett Jack, the Raptor who’s known Bosh the longest. "I haven’t seen his demeanour like this ever.
"He’s hungry, you can tell he really wants to be special. I don’t mean special in the sense he just wants to go to the all-star game or something like that, I mean he really wants to be special. He wants to be a special player in this league and he’s not letting anything, anybody or anyone hold him back from that."
"This has been a part of my NBA dream for a while,” DeRozan wrote in his blog on raptors.com.
"I grew up watching dunk contests, especially during all-star weekend, and it’s probably the thing people most look forward to. Just to be a part of that, being on the main stage with three other guys, with the whole country watching. It’s exciting and you couldn’t ask for anything more.
"I have to say the Vince Carter year was my favourite dunk contest. He really showed something different in that dunk contest and put it back on the map. That twisting windmill 360 on his first dunk? That was the first time anybody had ever seen anything like that. Gotta make a statement on that first one!"
An opportunity awaits for the Raptors to finish with the franchise’s best regular-season win total (twice the club has won 47 games), but more importantly get out of the first round of the playoffs for only the second time in club history.
That, more than any number or any Chris Bosh 20/10 game, is how these Raptors will be judged.
In theory, continued improvement shown by DeMar DeRozan, Sonny Weems, Antoine Wright and Amir Johnson can’t hurt.
Evans figures to get his wind back in time and his playing minutes will be established, even if it means fewer minutes for Johnson.
Marco Belinelli has to find a better balance when he attempts to heave an off-balanced shot.
Against Philly, he struggled and looked terrible, missing all five of his shots to post his fourth scoreless night in his past five games.
Hedo Turkoglu has yet to sustain a high level of play over an extended stretch, which is an absolute must as the NBA’s unofficial second half gets set to tip off.
Bosh and Andrea Bargnani are proving to be one of the NBA’s effective big man tandems.
There’s depth at point guard with Jarrett Jack and Jose Calderon and head coach Jay Triano must be applauded for his in-game managing and his ability to manage minutes.
There’s another level the Raptors have to reach if they want to be considered with the likes of Cleveland, Orlando, Atlanta and even the struggling Celtics, who are showing signs of age and decline.
These American commentators just state it as fact. Try finding one person who can explain how they know this so-called truth.
Don’t ask Bosh to explain it.
"That’s a good question," Bosh says when asked how everyone else can be so sure of what his move will be this summer. "If that were really the case, wouldn’t it be kind of evident from myself even?"
What Bosh is saying, and what he has been saying for the better part of two years, is he hasn’t made that decision — so how can anyone else know?
"It has not been easy," he admits when asked about all the speculation. "I guess this is wishful thinking from other forms of media. Welcome to my world."
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