After talking about it for years, the NBA’s free agent bonanza during the summer of 2010 is upon us. Some of the best players in the sport are about to make possibly the biggest decision of their professional lives.
Oh you didn’t know?
Names like Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer, Joe Johnson, and Dirk Nowitzki just to name a few, are entering free agency this summer.
However, the domino effect is expected to happen after the big three (James, Wade, and Bosh) make their decision. As the discussions and arguments begin to stir about where these free agents are likely to land, the normal candidates are of course the front-runners. Rumblings of New York, LA, Miami, Chicago and any other destination with bright lights, warm weather, or both are on top of the list.
However, apart from all of those so-called “sexy” destinations I am here to make the case for one free agent superstar to head to the Northwest. Of the 30 teams in the NBA I may be the first to say the best destination for Chris Bosh this summer is to migrate west to Portland.
The Blazers are one of the youngest teams in the league and have maybe the best of the young talent in the league. Combine that with the signing of savvy veterans Marcus Camby, Juwan Howard, and Andre Miller last season, the Blazers are fit to make some noise in the Western Conference.
I know Portland hasn’t been the destination of choice for big name free agents for the past, oh, 40 years or so, but maybe that needs to change.
Before I dive into dialogue, I know most of you are already yelling at this article about salaries, contracts, and cap space. More importantly, that the Blazers don’t have enough to sign a player to a max contract like Bosh is set to receive. However, my theoretical situation includes a sign and trade. Bosh would resign with Toronto for a max deal and be traded to the Blazers for LaMarcus Aldridge, and Rudy Fernandez.
For this deal to occur three things have to happen. First, Toronto must want to make the deal. Second, Portland must want to make the deal. And finally, Bosh must agree to the deal and be willing to sign with Toronto before he is traded.
Here’s how things, in my opinion, should play out.
Why Toronto would make the deal
Of all the superstars in the league that are set to be free agents this summer, Toronto seems to be the favorite to lose its current star. Not a single playoff series win in his tenure with Toronto, it’s not hard to see why Bosh is ready to play for a contender. Combine that with Bosh turning to Twitter for free agency advice, asking his followers, “Should I stay or should I go?” This makes the case for Bosh staying in Toronto very weak.
The Raptors, knowing this, should now be looking to get at least something in return for their superstar rather than just letting him walk. If Bosh is going to leave anyway Toronto might as well get a long, athletic perennial all-star in Aldridge to replace him, and a sharpshooting wing, whose best year in the NBA was when a fellow countryman ran the offense. Could the new Spanish connection be Calderon to Rudy?
Why Portland would make the deal
Many Blazer fans may think that this is a lot to give up to bring in one player, especially since the team has yet to play a whole season together with everyone healthy. However, with all the injuries last year, one player who remained on the floor most of the time was Aldridge. Likewise, while Aldridge was on the floor most of the game, his presence in the post and on the boards, especially in fourth quarters, was mostly invisible.
In my opinion there is no reason why at 6’11 and being as athletic as he is, Aldridge should grab less than seven rebounds a game. In 2010 Aldridge recorded an astounding 38 games with seven or less boards and a mere 24 double-doubles.
On a defensive minded team like the Blazers, Aldridge was more about getting his own offensive numbers each game. With this in mind, Blazer fans must be questioning whether Aldridge is slowly turning into former Blazer, Zach Randolph.
And for the second year in a row, Aldridge was mostly a non-factor in the playoffs. Shooting under 40% from the field, 70% from the line, and only one double double in the first round series is not going to get it done for a championship caliber team.
While Rudy may be thrown in this sign and trade merely for contract purposes, the major second year slump by Fernandez didn’t help his case. The lack of effort shown in the second half of the season, a year filled with injuries, and the constant cry for more minutes may have run this Blazer right out of town.
Overall, the Blazers are getting a better shooter, rebounder, defender, and leader in Bosh than what they are giving up in Rudy and LaMarcus.
Why Bosh would make the deal
The kink in this whole situation may be courting the man this is all about, Chris Bosh. In order to convince Bosh that Portland is where he should be, General Manager Kevin Pritchard will need to sit down with him to discuss his options. This is how that conversation should play out.
Bosh: How would I fit in the Portland system?
Pritchard: If this trade went through Chris, imagine this starting lineup. Marcus Camby in the middle, you at the 4, Batum at small forward, Roy at shooting guard, and Miller running the point. If that weren’t enough, we would have possibly the best bench unit in the NBA. Imagine a healthy Oden and Przybilla, along with Webster and Bayless in the second unit. Throw in Dante Cunningham and you have five potential starters coming off the bench.
Bosh: I do like that but I’m not sure if I would like being in Portland.
Pritchard: Why don’t you ask your teammate Hedo Turkaglu if he is happy with the decision to ditch Portland to go to Toronto? Plus, Portland has one of the best fan bases in the NBA. Just this year we surpassed 100 straight sellouts.
Bosh: What about the rest of the West?
Pritchard: With that starting lineup and bench unit we will outmatch anyone in the West.
Bosh: I’ve heard what people are saying. It seems like Miami would be the best fit for me.
Pritchard: I understand why you would think that and want to go there. However, if you went to Miami take a look into the future. Even with you and Wade in Miami, all the pieces of the puzzle aren’t there, especially in the East. Assuming Lebron resigns with Cleveland, you are not beating Cleveland for the next 10 or 12 years, you are not beating Orlando for the next 8 to 10 years, you’re not beating Boston for the next two or three years, and you’re probably not beating Atlanta for the next 6 to 7 years. So yes, go ahead and sign with Miami, but you will be nothing more than an above average team that wont go anywhere in the playoffs.
Or, you can come to Portland, be the final puzzle piece, and win multiple championships. It’s up to you, but if you want to win and win now than Portland makes the most sense.
While Portland Oregon may not be the sexiest destination out there, players need to look beyond the rain and the cold and the 7:30 start times, and instead look inside the community, the fan base and the team. From now until July 1st the free agent market will endure a frenzy of rumors and speculation. While the rest of the class may have the nations minds spinning, Bosh should save us all the trouble and pick up a pen and contract and make his way to Portland.