Has there ever been a better bronze medal prize than Chris Bosh?
With all the hoopla around LeBron and D-Wade, Bosh was almost becoming the forgotten man of the 2010 Free Agent Silly Season.
Then the Raptors failed to make the playoffs and tongues started wagging again. Couple this with Bosh's recent Twitter posts asking for his fans' advice on where he should go, and the possibility of him leaving Canada seems to grow by the day.
However, Bosh has said that if he leaves, it will be through a sign and trade, to benefit both himself (one extra year of max money can be pretty handy when your next contract negotiation will come on the wrong side of 30 and a new CBA) and the Raptors, who will be able to get something back for him.
This has opened the door to some teams that may not have had the cap space to sign Bosh outright, while making it a bit more difficult for teams with cap space but not so many trading chips (Knicks, Heat in particular) to get the Black Avatar (sorry, couldn't resist) on their roster for the 2010-11 season.
After spending a few hours playing on the Trade Machine and checking Hoops Hype's salary list (instead of working on my political science essay) I came up with a few ideas.
Trade 1: Raptors-Warriors.
Raptors get: Monta Ellis, Andris Biedrins and a future first round pick.
Warriors get: Chris Bosh.
This one was difficult for me as a GSW fan. Monta and Biedrins are two of my favourite current Warriors, and I would hate to see them leave the Bay. However, if it would give us a shot at a player of Bosh's ability, it has to be done.
How the Warriors would benefit is obvious. Bosh is a consistent 20-10 guy, he and Stephen Curry could form a nasty pick-and-roll duo in time, he would provide us with some interior defense which we desperately need while being quick and athletic enough to play in Nellie Ball this coming season while also able to play in the half-court if that's whatever our coach in 2011-12 desires. Curry, Bosh and the Warriors' 2010 lottery pick (either a big like Derrick Favors or DeMarcus Cousins to pair with Bosh on the frontline, or a wing player like Evan Turner or Wes Johnson) could form a nucleus that returns Golden State to the playoffs and causes opposing teams to soil themselves entering the Roaracle.
Plus, change is coming to the Warriors - a new owner by the start of the next season, a new coach the season after that - while it seems chaotic, a guy like Bosh realises that the franchise player gets a significant amount of bargaining power in those situations. He would, in essence, be free to choose his own coach and GM.
He also gets to be the number one guy in one of the biggest markets in the country and in front of the best and most loyal fans in the league. (Sorry Utah and Portland - you guys are great when you're doing well. But Portland abandoned their team during the Jail Blazers era, and Utah hasn't experienced the real, consistent suffering fans in Oakland have. And yet they still turn out every year, hoping the team can finally turn it around). Who wouldn't want that?
How do the Raptors benefit? With Bosh gone, they're gonna need someone to keep basketball in Toronto alive and the fans interested. If there's one guy who can do that, it's the man tagged the one man fast break. While Monta has been somewhat criticised this year for ball-hogging and taking too many bad shots (Especially 15-18 footers) no one can deny his talent. A change of scenery might be good for him, as could playing with one of the best pass-first PGs in the league not named Steve Nash, Chris Paul or Deron Williams in Jose Calderon. (Seriously, can any Raptors fans explain to me why this guy doesn't get way more PT? Is there something there I don't know about?)
As for Biedrins, he can slot into the center position and move Bargnani to what I believe is his more natural position of power forward. (Actually, I figure Bargs is a small forward more than anything - but you can't afford to have a 7'0" SF in the league, especially one who couldn't defend me). Biedrins would be a perfect fit in Toronto because he does everything Bargnani doesn't do - rebounds, blocks shots, general dirty work around the rim, allowing him to focus on his offensive game and stretching the floor. Although that frontline won't be able to defend elite post players (good luck against Gasol/Bynum) what's new for the Raptors there?
Plus, any time a team can have an all-white lineup on the floor at any given time (which the Raptors will be able to pull off with Calderon, Marco Belinelli, Turkoglu, Bargnani and Biedrins) is always funny to me. I don't know why. Maybe I'm a racist.
Trade 2: Raptors - Nets.
Raptors get: Brook Lopez, Yi Jianlian, the Nets 2010 second round pick and a future first rounder.
Nets get: Chris Bosh.
This is another one of those esoteric, odds-and-ends trades that only I seem to like. Again, the benefits to the Nets are obvious - while Lopez is a good player and will only get better, he's no Bosh. Plus, with the Nets certain to have a top four draft pick, they could easily draft a true center to replace him (DeMarcus Cousins) or trade for one. Once again, you have a team in a transition phase (although the Nets are further along than the Warriors in this regard) which would grant any franchise player a considerable amount of control over the future of the team. Plus, the Nets have enough cap space to sign another major free agent, even if it's someone like Rudy Gay, expecially if they clear Yi and Lopez's contracts.
The Raptors, in turn, essentially acknowledge that they're entering a rebuilding phase post-Bosh. Again, Lopez's game fits in well with Bargnani's as he's a solid low-post player on the offensive end who isn't afraid to do the dirty work on both ends as well, allowing Bargnani to stretch the floor. Defensively, again he's not going to be taking Pau Gasol or Al Jefferson on his own but if Bargs improves in that regard (which he really should - come on, he's seven freaking feet tall) they should be able to get by.
Yi's main benefit will be to sell tickets and jerseys to Toronto's large Chinese community and come off the bench to fill Bargs' role when he needs a rest, but hopefully he too can develop his game into that of a serviceable back-up center - the potential is there for Chairman Yi to make a Great Leap Forward. (OK, I'll stop with the racial jokes now. Although I first read Chairman Yi in a Bill Simmons mailbag. So don't blame me).
The second-round draft pick could also prove useful for the Raptors - while they may not be able to draft the next Gilbert Arenas or Manu Ginobili, there are plenty of intriguing prospects who could fall into their laps. Tweener forwards like Quincy Pondexter and Gani Lawal, or undersized 2 guards like Jordan Crawford or Avery Bradley are all within their reach. These guys may not become NBA stars, but they could definitely become solid role players on a Raptors team that should be able to give them some decent minutes.
Trade 3: Raptors-Mavericks
Raptors get: Caron Butler, Erick Damper, Rodrigue Beaubois and two future first round draft picks.
Mavs get: Chris Bosh and Jose Calderon.
It's fairly well documented that the Mavs want to make a run at Chris Bosh. And since Dallas is his hometown, he probably would be pretty keen to come back.
The problem is what can the Mavs offer the Raptors for him? Their best asset is still Dirk Nowitzki, but Cuban will trade Dirk the same day my grandma wins a dunk contest. So basically, if Bosh wants to come home, the best the Raptors can do is get 60 cents on the dollar for him from Butler and Dampier's expiring contracts, Roddy Buckets and a couple of draft picks that will most likely be mid-late first-rounders in the future. I threw in Calderon because the Raptors hardly seem to use him, and he's making nearly $30 million in the next three years. He could easily take over from Kidd in the near future.
It's not all bad for Canadian fans though. Beaubois has shown himself to be an exciting young talent at point guard - a backcourt of him and DeRozan in the future could become anything. Especially if they both improve their mid-long range games and Beaubois improves his play-making skills. Butler is still a solid, borderline All-Star caliber swing-man who could play SG as DeRozan develops. Dampier isn't much other than an expiring contract, but he can come off the bench to give the frontline some defensive steel if Bargnani is being pushed around too much.
As for the Mavs, the question to be asked has to be how Bosh and Dirk, two very similar players with similar flaws (i.e. poor defense, especially in the low post) will be able to play on the same team together. Since Bosh is a (slightly) better defender along with being a better rebounder and shot blocker, you'd have to guess he'd play center. But Cuban'd have to resign Brendan Haywood to provide defensive help off the bench.
That's all I have for now. More crazy trade ideas may be coming up soon.
I have heard rumours of other teams (particularly the Lakers) who are interested in pursuing Bosh, but I'm just not convinced that all of them have the pieces for a trade. The Raptors will probably be wanting a combination of young talent, expiring contracts, draft picks and a willingness to take on bad deals (cough...Hedo Turkoglu...cough) - not many teams have at least two of these.