1. I think Chris Bosh is gone. Not because I know any better and not because I don’t believe him when he says he doesn’t know. But it’s clear from his comments that he’s taking the long view of his career at this stage of the game. He wants to spend the most fruitful years of his basketball life in a place where winning in a big way is not only possible, but likely. If you’re a rational person – and Bosh certainly comes across that way – you’re going to look for a situation where there’s a track record of doing what it takes to win. That means spending money. Lot’s of it. LeBron James is the best player in the world and may well be the best player ever, and Cleveland has surrounded him with about $16-million worth of talent on top of what Bosh works with. If LeBron isn’t the best player going, Kobe Bryant probably is, and Kobe has about $24-million worth of playmates that Bosh doesn’t. The Raptors have never committed to spending heavy luxury tax dollars. They’re not cheap, but they’re cost conscious. Trying to win a championship requires some recklessness – tearing down big or spending it fast – and MLSE’s modus operandi is to cautiously tread the middle ground. Bosh has to be thinking: what are the odds of that mentality changing? That’s why I think he’ll leave; he realize that ownership here is more careful than winning requires.
while he offered no certainties on Thursday, Bosh did lay out some general parameters.
Would he have to be a No. 1 option? Not necessarily. To re-sign here, would there need to be roster changes? "I think there has to be changes," he said, "only because we didn’t make the playoffs. It’s not like we’re building off success."
How about an all-star-calibre perimeter player who can create, unlike the mediocre parade of Mike James, Morris Peterson, Jalen Rose, T.J. Ford, Jose Calderon, Anthony Parker, Jarrett Jack and DeMar DeRozan that has rolled through here over the past five years?
"You’re going to have to have someone who can really create their own," Bosh said. "Like you said, be an all-star. When you look at every good team, that’s what they have."
Well, what about an organization willing to spend into the NBA’s punitive luxury tax, where every dollar spent costs you three?
"You have to," said Bosh. "That’s something that I only really started thinking about this year. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve looked at other teams and their success and how they do their business. And you have to."
When asked if Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment would do so, he replied, quite reasonably, "I’m not sure. I’m not sure."
New York Vinnie has told you since last summer that I believe that Bosh and Phoenix Suns big man Amar’e Stoudemire are the two big name Free Agents most likely to leave their current teams. The Raptors are a team with a whole lot of questions and not too many answers. Even if Bosh does return they are not going to be one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. Although Toronto is a nice enough city; that alone is not going to keep the All-Star in his current situation.
Jarrett Jack has known the Toronto forward for a lot of years as they played college ball together. Jack believes that in the end Bosh will re-sign with the Raptors. Jack told reporters “He loves playing here. I think he loves being the face of the franchise, loves having a place to call his team, and I think those are all incentives, if you want to look at anything, to be able to come back and play for the Raptors for a very long time.”
The Raptors star has now played seven seasons in the NBA and he realizes that he only has a certain number of years left before he hangs up his sneakers. When he was asked by media members what he wanted to accomplish in the next few years; Bosh responded “I just want to win basketball games. 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. I know I’m still a young player but I remember when I got drafted guys that were 25 and 26, now they’re on their last deals.”
Already, one team’s premature demise has raised concerns.
The Toronto Raptors were projected as a playoff team, but they finished with a losing record (40-42) and are heading for the draft lottery for a second straight year. Bosh, their All-Star power forward, broadcast his discontent a month ago when it became apparent the Raptors were in trouble.
“We’re not playing basketball the way we need to,” the normally reserved Bosh said. “For some reason, we don’t like to secure a lead and we don’t like to win basketball games. That’s the only thing I can think of. I mean, we come out here, we talk about it, we have a billion meetings. But we can talk all we want. Unless we do it, it really doesn’t matter.”
Bosh added: “Just do it, you know? Act like you care.”
His words had to send a shudder through the offices of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Raptors.
In seven years with Toronto, Bosh has made the postseason twice and failed to win a series either time. Is he incapable of leading a team to playoff success, or is he just missing the right supporting cast?
Those are questions that the Raptors now face, and that Bosh will ponder from now until July.
“There has to be changes,” Bosh said this week, “only because we didn’t make the playoffs. It’s not like we’re building off success.”
Success will be defined differently for each top free agent. Bosh might have been satisfied by a mere show of progress — a playoff berth, a seven-game series, maybe a second-round appearance.
I had the good fortune of being allowed to sit in a video session between an assistant coach and a player when we were on the road in the second last week of the season. I watched carefully as the coach used video clips to reinforce the positive and negative — both offensively and defensively — to the player. And yes there was balance as the coach praised the player and then asked the player when they reviewed a particularly bad turnover, "what was happening there?" When the player responded with "Teammate ‘X’ was upset that he didn’t get the ball on the last play and said something to me and I was just trying to get him the ball." The coach’s retort was, "Who cares! Now you’ve turned the ball over, hurt our team and you got me mad at you. Forget him, do what’s right for the team." After a slight head nod of acknowledgement, the point had been understood. Score one for accountability.
The Bosh saga and my thoughts will be covered at a later date after we hear from Bryan Colangelo next week. The president and general manager is scheduled to talk to the media at noon on Monday.
In all Bosh says he’s undecided about where he will play next season and being a strong willed person, he says that if he knew, he would tell people so they would stop bugging him. If he says he’s undecided, then I believe him. Maybe all that chatter around "I don’t know what I’m going to do" is like a parent’s code when they tell a kid maybe but the answer will eventually be no. Who knows, but it will be an impact decision for the franchise one way or the other.
The one thing we do know is it looks like it will be amicable and mutual as Bosh says that he and Colangelo will continue to talk.
Chris Bosh is a player I’m not in love with, but the Kings will look at signing a guy like him because of his high production. I also think fans will go out and want to see Bosh every night. A possibility here is a S&T the Kings could pull off with the Raptors. It’s possible that a combination of draft picks, Carl Landry and Jason Thompson go to the Raptors in exchange for Bosh. (Bosh would be BYC which is why the money factor from the Kings end couldn’t be too high.)
The only way the Raptors can unload Hedo’s overpaid contract (9m – 12m for 5 years!) is if they add on a prospect. Sadly, the only prospects that have any value are Demar DeRozan and Sonny Weems. DeMar is guaranteed to be a solid player and has shown good work ethic (ala Ronnie Brewer type). As well, Weems has shown good promise with his run with the Raptors and does offer some upside. His contract also comes cheap at 800k for one more year. Johnson can’t be shopped around as he’s a free agent next season. Belinelli is garbage 90% of the time. He would show flashes of his ability to score and hustle but that would happen once every 30 games it seems. He is by far the most inconsistent player in the Raptors (yes, even more that Turkoglu). Most of the time he’s taking “impressive acrobatic/off-balance shots” that completely misses the basket. I remember reading a ridiculous article that praised him for this as if he’s Manu Ginobli or Larry Bird. He barely shot 40% during the season while getting ample playing time. He disappears like a fart in the wind. That’s just ridiculous for someone who’s role is to provide offensive spark off the bench. Thus, no one will take him as there’s still a huge question mark on his reliability as a role player.
The Raptors went into the season with high hopes but the Chicago Bulls leapfrogged them into eighth by winning their last two games against Boston and Charlotte.
"It’s pretty hard," Toronto’s Spain international playmaker Jose Calderon said.
"We can compete with any team.
"At this moment, I remember games against Phoenix or Los Angeles that we led by six or eight points with two minutes left and lost."
Calderon can at least turn his attention to the FIBA World Championship in Turkey where he and Spain will try to defend the title they captured in Japan four years ago.
Toronto’s Italian players, Andrea Bargnani and Marco Belinelli, will have to settle for playing for the Azzurri in EuroBasket Division A against Latvia, Finland, Montenegro and Israel.
"After the All-Star Game, we didn’t play good games and we’ve paid for it," Bargnani said.
"Chris Bosh’s absence has really hurt us because he is a fantastic player and not to have him on the court has really hindered us."