If the Sacramento Kings are serious about competing for an NBA championship in a loaded NBA Western Conference they should remember the past success of the Chris Webber deal and aggressively pursue Toronto Raptors superstar Chris Bosh.
Kings shooting guard Kevin Martin, swing man Donte Greene, center Spencer Hawes and the Kings 1st round pick in the 2010 NBA draft might be enough to entice the Raptors to relinquish the enigmatic Bosh.
In 1998 Sacramento Kings General Manager Geoff Petrie shocked the NBA world by trading for Washington Bullets superstar power Chris Webber. Webber himself was shocked, initially bemoaning the trade. However Webber quickly reestablished his floundering reputation by helping make the Kings a regular in the playoffs and eventually signed a long-term contract.
Fast-forward and Petrie is currently in the middle of rebuilding the Kings into a contender for the second time. And like in 1998, an opportunity to reshape the franchise is within grasp.
Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo knows that Bosh is leaving following this season as an unrestricted free agent and there is nothing he can do to prevent that. Losing Bosh with no compensation to free agency is a worst-case scenario so Colangelo should deal Bosh now to maximize his value. If Colangelo wants to save his job he has to deal Bosh this season to minimize the bleeding.
Petrie has accumulated the ammo for a Bosh deal by drafting well and retaining those players to reasonable contracts. The reason why Tyreke Evans, Omri Casspi and Jason Thompson are not included in any potential deal is because Petrie has probably marked them as untouchable franchise cornerstones. This should not be a deal breaker though.
Kevin Martin would be the main attraction to the deal from the Raptors perspective. Martin is an offensive dynamo; capable of averaging 30+ points per game in a fast tempo offensive system like the one the Raptors run. Martin is only 26 and has yet to reach the ceiling of his potential.
Spencer Hawes has had his up and downs over the course of his career however he is a cheap legit 7-foot center who would allow Raptors to play Andres Bargnani at the power forward position.
Donte Greene is an intriguing small forward prospect due to size, length, athleticism and shooting ability. Right now he would provide punch off the bench but his ceiling is high enough to eventually supplant Hedo Turkoglu as the starter at small forward.
Add the extra bargaining chip that is a 2010 first rounder and the Raptors have theoretically gotten a haul comparable if not exceeding to what the Minnesota Timberwolves received for Kevin Garnett in 2007 from the Boston Celtics.
Now the inherent risk in the deal for the Kings is that they could now lose Bosh to free agency after only half a season. The Kings could make the trade contingent on Bosh signing a contract extension to protect themselves from this possibility. That would be a mistake though, as Bosh would probably balk at signing said extension killing any deal.
This is where the inherent risk in this trade comes from for the Kings, without Bosh signing a long term extension as contingent upon the trade the Kings run the risk of losing Bosh in free agency for nothing, much the same as the Raptors do now. The Kings however have something the Raptors don’t have though when it comes to Bosh, a chance to retain him.
Give Bosh a few months of playing with super-stud rookie Tyreke Evans while being protected in the front-court by Casspi and Thompson and he might reconsider. Let him play in a sold out arena every night in front of a fan base that worships its NBA stars and he might reconsider. Give Bosh a Webber-style public billboard promising Bosh if he stays that the Kings owners, George and Gavin Maloof, will mow his lawn and he might reconsider.
Tyreke Evans is a rare player and the real key to potentially retaining Bosh. Evans is well on his way to averaging over 20 points, five assists and five rebounds per game in his rookie year. To put that in perspective according to the Elias Sports Bureau that would be an accomplishment shared only with Oscar Robinson, LeBron James, and Michael Jordan. And Evans is only scratching the surface of his potential.
Even if Bosh were to leave the Kings they would probably receive a moderate compensation through a sign and trade deal. Bosh’s potential loss would also pull the Kings out of the Luxury Tax range and give them the salary cap flexibility for future maneuverings. While it would be best to just retain him, trading for Bosh and then losing him would not set the Kings franchise back irrevocably.
This theoretical trade is one that should make a lot of sense for both the Kings and Raptors. With Bosh the Kings are a playoff team, even if they are only renting him. And if the Raptors don’t trade Bosh right now, they run the risk of losing him for nothing, and that is the kind of error that makes an owner clean house.