It’s not 100% whether Bosh has actually submitted a list of teams to the Raptors, if it is, it’s good to get the process finally underway. Since the day the season ended he got injured, the question of his free-agency has been talked about constantly with trades to Chicago, Miami, Houston and LA being bandied about. Although Houston isn’t on this apparent ‘list’, that’s not going to stop them from making a major play on July 1st, if Bosh hasn’t been traded by then.

All the trades that have been talked about have come in one of two flavors. Either the trade sees us getting someone back who can help us now so that we can continue to build around Calderon, Bargnani and Turkoglu, or it’s about dumping our the big contracts, taking back draft picks, and starting from scratch, with the exception of Weems, DeRozan, Bargnani and perhaps, Johnson. There’s a thousand different ways the process could actually go down, but we do know something about our potential trade partners.

Chicago:

We want: Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson
We don’t want: Kirk Hinrich
We could be force-fed: Luol Deng

Since Bosh plays the same position as Gibson, the Bulls would be happy to part with Gibson. Chicago being under the cap also means that they could swallow Turkoglu or Calderon as part of the deal, but with Rose and Deng already key parts on the team, they have little reason to. For salary matching reasons, one of Luol Deng or Kirk Hinrich would have to be included. The younger Deng is the better talent, but he’s signed to a $13.5M deal through the 2013-14 season. You OK with that?

LA Lakers:

We want: Andrew Bynum
We don’t want: Luke Walton, Sasha Vujacic
We could be force-fed: Luke Walton, Sasha Vujacic

There’s not many permutations of players here, the Lakers would have to give back $14M of salary and the only way that can happen is if they send back Bynum or Gasol, or a combination of players including Lamar Odom. One would think Bosh is most likely to evict Bynum, but you have to question LA’s desire to make this move, considering they’re on course to win back-to-back titles with Bynum manning the middle.

Miami:

We want: Nobody
We don’t want: Everybody
We could be force-fed: Mario Chalmers, Michael Beasley

Talent-wise, this is perhaps the worst trading partner for the Raptors. Other than Wade who can become a free-agent, the Heat only have Michael Beasley, Daequan Cook, and Mario Chalmers under contract. I suppose they could sign-and-trade one of their free-agents to even out the salary for the Raptors, but now we’re talking about Quentin Richardson and Udonis Haslem, two players you don’t necessarily need if you’re scrapping a regime. The Heat have plenty of room to take back Turkoglu (apparently not happy in Toronto), and if a deal with them will get done, they’ll certainly have to swallow one, if not two, of our bad contracts.

New York:

We want: David Lee (free-agent)
We don’t want: Eddy Curry
We could be force-fed: Eddy Curry, Danilo Gallinari

Much like the Heat, the Knicks don’t have too many players under contract. David Lee is an unrestricted free-agent and can sign anywhere he likes, it’s hard to imagine the Knicks convincing him that a sign-and-trade to Toronto is a good move for him, when he’ll have plenty of suitors in the market. Again, taking back a bad contract or two and sending a potentially high draft pick next year could be enough to get the deal done. The LeBron James situation could also come into play, he will obviously be their top priority and they’re likely to barter with Cleveland before us. Unless of course, the plan is to entice James with Bosh.

Houston:

We want: Aaron Brooks, Shane Battier
We don’t want: Kevin Martin
We could be force-fed: Jordan Hill, Trevor Ariza

Aaron Brooks is proving himself to be a pretty good player, he averaged 19.6 points and 5.3 assists last year on a team-oriented Houston squad. The assists numbers aren’t what you’d like to see from a PG playing 35 minutes a night, but that’s what playing in a Rick Adelman system does to you. For example, Mike Bibby’s assists average jumped by almost two by playing less minutes the year he joined the Hawks. Brooks’ PER rating of 16.04 isn’t spectacular, but given a chance to orchestrate the offense using his quickness, he could blossom. Jordan Hill (who nobody seems to want) would probably come back, and the Raptors should insist on Shane Battier’s expiring contract. The influence he could have in only a year on DeRozan and Weems should not be discounted.

So what’s the best deal here?

As you go through these teams, the common question that comes up is whether we want to rebuild or retool. Acquiring Andrew Bynum is the trade that addresses both, a need to stay competitive, and account for the future. He is the only talked about incoming talent that has clear perennial All-Star potential, and comes with the security of a long-term deal. The trade would also allow Andrea Bargnani to play his ‘natural’ PF spot, which has a chance of turning him into something more than an under-performing frontcourt player. From the Raptors perspective, this is the deal that stands out if the plan is to attempt contention with Turkoglu, Bargnani and Calderon or Jack still around.

Other than Taj Gibson and pehraps David Lee, deals with Chicago, Miami and New York just don’t net back enough talent, and even those two players have to be considered subpar to Bynum’s potential for physical dominance. If Colangelo wants to blow everything up (which I doubt he does), then sure, trade with NY, take back a player in a sign-and-trade and make them eat a couple contracts. They’d gladly do it. As much sense as the Houston deal might make, I don’t see Colangelo being too interested in Aaron Brooks or Jordan Hill, that trade would put the Raptors somewhere between a team trying to contend and rebuild, in other words, Colangelo would have a lot more work to do even after pulling the trigger. My spidey-sense tells me he’s looking to make one big deal, especially given how tight we are against the cap.

Colangelo has already stated that he thinks the Raptors aren’t far off from being a 50-win team:

I don’t think we’re as bad as the picture is being painted. We might not be as good as we had hoped but we’re not as bad. We have the knowledge of the value of the players, we have the knowledge of the talent of the players, we see the interaction of these players on a daily basis and it’s something you have to trust that we’re going to turn this into a 50-win team.

It’s not hard to believe that Colangelo would think that replacing Bosh with Bynum would actually make us a better team, after all, Bosh is a very average defender on a team filled with offense. Bringing in a true paint presence will no doubt make us a better team on defense, but what about replacing Bosh’s production? At the risk of oversimplifying this by the usage of math and not considering the impact of playing with Kobe Bryant, consider that Bynum’s Per48 averages are 23.7/13.1 and Bosh’s were 31.9/14.4. There’s obviously a difference in points but that’s because Bosh took 5.3 shots more per 48 minutes and considering Bynum shoots 57% compared to Bosh’s 51.8%, that should make up the difference.

There aren’t many examples of championship teams lacking a superstar player, the Pistons of 2004 come to mind, but other than that there hasn’t been much to speak off. Taking a step back and looking at the long-term health of this franchise, Bynum would give us something to build around, just like Bosh had the last four years. It turned out that Bosh wasn’t good enough to be the #1 man on a team, attract great free-agents, motivate his teammates or be a true leader, whether the same is true for Bynum remains to be seen. Bynum will likely never be a great leader, but at 22 years of age, the potential to be a great franchise player is there. That alone makes this a no-brainer.

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