Maybe I'm just a pessimist.
So whenever I stumble across a Raptors story which includes a Bryan Colangelo quote about how he's still committed to keeping Chris Bosh in Toronto long-term, I can't help but cringe. It feels like we've been down this road before.
Damon Stoudamire was the original face of the franchise before requesting a ticket out of town. The return for the Raptors? Spare parts and a point guard (Kenny Anderson) who would never step foot in the city.
Then you have the cousins from Florida—Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter. Both played an integral role in the Raptors rise from the cellar to credibility, and both would leave Toronto for virtually nothing. T-Mac would exit via free agency, while Carter was "traded" to the Nets after demanding his own trade out of the T-Dot. That deal, which is regularly mentioned when the discussion of "Most lopsided deals in NBA history" gets brought up, is still a particularly sore spot for the Raps faithful.
So you'll have to excuse me when I get a little cynical at the chances of Colangelo locking up Bosh in the summer of 2010. That's not a poor endorsement of BC's general manager skills, nor is it an indictment of Bosh's character. I just can't shake the image of another Raptors star skipping town without receiving something significant in return.
So without further ado, I present some trade scenario's that involve the Raptors and three teams that could use a player of Bosh's calibre around the association.
Scenario No. 1: Toronto Raptors trade F Chris Bosh to the Chicago Bulls for G Ben Gordon (sign-and-trade), F Tyrus Thomas, and two first-round picks in 2009 (No.'s 16 and 26 overall)
This is the scenario that is getting pumped out by most rumor mills as of late, and on the surface it appears to make sense for both teams.
After underachieving in 2007, Derrick Rose infused new life into the Bulls franchise and has the Chicago brass thinking about joining the Eastern Conference's elite sooner rather than later. A trade for Bosh would give the Bulls the low-post option that they have been missing since roughly the turn of the century, and a core of Rose-Bosh-Deng-Hinrich-Noah has the capability to take the next step in the Windy City.
For the Raptors, the arrival of Gordon would mark a major improvement at the shooting guard position over Anthony Parker, although BG's deficiencies in the defense and shot selection departments may not bold well for a team that already struggles in both of those areas.
That being said, Gordon's pure offensive exploits are amongst the best in the association and would give a freshly inked Jay Triano many more options on that end of the floor.
Bryan Colangelo originally wanted to mold these Raptors after the high-scoring Phoenix Suns teams from 2004-07, but he was always missing one key ingredient—players who could score. Jamario Moon, Anthony Parker, Jason Kapono and Joey Graham weren't exactly the most intimidating foursome at the wing position, but BG would provide the team with someone who can fill it up from anywhere.
Thomas has been a model of inconsistency during his first few years in the league, but no one can question his athleticism and the excitement he's capable of bringing to the game at any given time. He's received some bad press during his time in Chicago as well, so maybe a change in scenery could do him a great deal of good. On the flip side, the Raptors are making a conscious effort to get "tougher" this offseason (as evidenced by Tuesday's trade for Reggie Evans) and Thomas would certainly help fill that role.
The two first rounders from Chicago would give the Dino's three selections in the first 26 picks and an opportunity to re-tool through the draft process, something the Raptors have failed to do in recent years.
Depending on how things shake down in the weeks leading up to the draft, the Raptors could add another wing prospect at No. 16 (Chase Budinger, Earl Clark, Jrue Holiday), while targeting a backup point guard with the 26th pick (Ty Lawson, Eric Maynor, Toney Douglas). Don't forget that they also own the ninth overall pick, which could land them another blue-chipper (Demar DeRozan is the popular choice at the moment) within the lottery.
Chicago Projected Lineup
G Derrick Rose, G Kirk Hinrich , SF Luol Deng, PF Chris Bosh, C Joakim Noah.
Bench: John Salmons, Brad Miller, Tim Thomas.
Toronto Projected Lineup
G Jose Calderon, G Ben Gordon, SF Shawn Marion (assuming he re-signs), F Tyrus Thomas, C Andrea Bargnani.
Bench: Reggie Evans, Roko Ukic, No. 9 pick, No. 16 pick, No. 26 pick.
Scenario No. 2: Toronto Raptors trade F Chris Bosh to the Golden State Warriors in exchange for G Jamal Crawford, C Rony Turiaf, F Brandan Wright, and a First Round Pick in 2009 (No. 7 overall)
In the short term, Bosh's arrival in the Bay would make the Warriors relevant again.
They'd be able to roll out one of the more young, talented and versatile frontcourts in the league with the trio of Andris Biedrens, Anthony Randolph and CB4. Couple that with Stephen Jackson and Monte Ellis in the backcourt, and a bench that would feature Corey Maggette, Kelenna Azubuike and Marco Bellinelli, and it appears that the Warriors could be back in the postseason picture much sooner than expected.
But with reports constantly swirling that Bosh is eyeing a big market when his 2010 free agency arrives, would the Warriors take the chance of having him walk away for nothing after a year?
There are some things that are working in the Warriors favor. For starters, Bosh should thrive playing under Don Nelson who would take advantage of his mobility and skill set like no other coach that Bosh has played for.
There's also the presence of Stephen Jackson, who will be handling most of the leadership duties, which Bosh has struggled with in the T-Dot. Playing a full season without a constant media presence on your shoulders has got to be an intriguing concept for Bosh at this point.
As far as the Raptors are concerned, they will get a little bit of everything in return from the Warriors. Jamal Crawford will provide a major scoring boost in the backcourt (see Ben Gordon, above). Ronny Turiaf will provide some muscle, defense, and depth in the frontcourt, while Wright is a potential game-changer who hasn't been able to crack Nelson's rotation while in Golden State.
The major prize for Toronto would be the seventh overall pick however, which would allow them to draft two of the top nine players in this year's lottery.
No one will mistake this year's draft crop for the class of 2003 by any means, but anytime a team has two picks within the top ten, they have a real shot at reshaping their franchise. The Raps could target Arizona big man Jordan Hill at number seven, a player who ironically has a lot of the same qualities as Bosh.
Golden State's Projected Lineup
G Monte Ellis, G Stephen Jackson, SF Anthony Randolph, PF Chris Bosh, C Andris Biedrins.
Bench: Corey Maggette, Marco Bellinelli, Kelenna Azubuike, Anthony Morrow.
Toronto's Projected Lineup
G Jose Calderon, G Jamal Crawford, SF Shawn Marion, F Andrea Bargnani, C Ronny Turiaf.
Bench: Reggie Evans, Roko Ukic, Brandan Wright, No. 7 pick, No. 9 pick.
Scenario No. 3: Toronto Raptors trade F Chris Bosh to the Portland Trail Blazers for F LaMarcus Aldridge, C Joel Pryzbilla and G Jarred Bayless
This deal completely hinges on the patience of the Portland Trail Blazers.
Are they willing to wait another year or two for their stable of young talent to develop into a championship contender? Will they even be able to keep this core together over that period of time?
Pairing Bosh with Brandon Roy will give the Blazers one of the best inside-out combo's in the association, and will immediately take them to contender status in the Western Conference. But much like the Warriors trade discussed above, it'd be a major risk for Portland to give up so much for a player who is not guaranteed past next season.
The loss of Aldridge and Pryzbilla would also put a great deal of pressure on Greg Oden, who despite all of the positive press from the NBA over the past two seasons, has yet to prove that he can handle an 82-game season, or that pesky six-fouls-per-game rule that the league continues to enforce.
With all that being said, the Blazers may be wise to act now in their pursuit of an NBA championship. The Lakers, Spurs, Suns, and Mavericks are all watching their title window shrink. Meanwhile, the Jazz and Rockets may have considerably different rosters when October rolls around.
For the Raptors, Aldridge would replace a lot of Bosh's production in the post, and could even see a spike in his stats with a greater offensive load in T.O.
Pryzbilla is a legit center who brings a lot of intangibles to a team in severe need of a working class type down low. He should provide some serious muscle off the bench with Reggie Evans. The Raptors haven't seen that type of physical presence since Charles Oakley left town.
Bayless is a throw-in to this deal, but has the potential to be a legitimate player in the league some day. He's a certified gunner, and would help provide a scoring punch off of the pine for the Raps, just one more thing that the Raps desperately need.
Portland Projected Lineup
G Steve Blake, G Brandon Roy, SF Nicholas Batum, PF Chris Bosh, C Greg Oden
Bench: Martell Webster, Sergio Rodriguez, Rudy Fernandez, Travis Outlaw.
Toronto Projected Lineup
G Jose Calderon, SG No. 9 Pick (Demar DeRozan?), SF Shawn Marion, F LaMarcus Aldridge, C Andrea Bargnani.
Bench: Joel Pryzbilla, Reggie Evans, Jarryd Bayless, Roko Ukic.