Posted by Sekou Smith
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — You’ve been told for months that LeBron James and to a lesser extent Dwyane Wade control the free agent market this summer.
It makes perfect sense. The two most high-profile players in the most high-profile free agent summer of all time have to be the guys that set the pace, right?
Well, maybe not.
What if it’s Chris Bosh that controls the action this summer. Hear me out before you go throwing things across the room and screaming at your computer.
If Bosh is the player everyone wants to pair with another superstar … why wouldn’t he be the linchpin to the summer?
And it’s not just the teams with cap space that are anxious to get their hands on Bosh.
One of my most trusted sources indicated to me last night that a sign-and-trade package is being discussed that would send Bosh to the Los Angeles Lakers — the Lakers mentioned as centerpieces of a potential deal were Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom, though you would expect only one of them to be included in a proposed deal.
As with all things being “discussed” this time of year, it doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. But the mere discussion is intriguing enough for us to wonder what Toronto GM Bryan Colangelo is working on if he knows Bosh is leaving.
(Anyone that has a hand in a potential Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Bosh and Ron Artest core four being formed is sure to be left off of a few Christmas card lists around the league this year.)
Michael Grange of the Globe and Mail has a great handle on what the Raptors are facing in free agency and in regards to losing Bosh and dealing with whatever results they get from Colangelo’s summer work:
Do the Raptors have some leverage? Perhaps. A sign-and-trade would net Bosh a six-year contract for about $130-million, instead of the five-year deal for about $100-million. But Bosh could go elsewhere without the benefit of a sign-and-trade and in three years be eligible for a three-year extension. The Raptors’ leverage really amounts to about $10-million over six seasons. Nothing to sneeze at, but hardly enough to control the fate of someone willing to sign for less than the maximum number of years as a 23-year-old in 2006.
Bosh rolled the dice to maintain his independence then, why wouldn’t he do it again now?
Toronto’s best hope is there is a true competition for Bosh’s services among teams that have the salary cap flexibility. In that scenario, Bosh will be able to force a sign-and-trade and enjoy the security of that sixth year up front.
What would that mean to Toronto? Best case would be a deal netting a trade exception and perhaps a draft pick or two. (The trade exception could be worth as much as $16-million and allow the otherwise capped-out Raptors a way to add talent by taking on players from teams looking to dump salary – would the San Antonio Spurs be willing to part with guard Tony Parker and his $13.5-million salary to make way for George Hill? Not inconceivable.)
Colangelo’s latest spin as it’s become ever clearer that his franchise player is leaving is that getting non-player assets – the trade exceptions and draft picks – is a reasonable outcome. That with the right assets in hand, he can pull rabbits out of hats.
He might even be able to put a team together that could qualify for the playoffs, reversing the Raptors’ slide under his watch.
In any case, in his four years in Toronto, Colangelo’s wheel-and-deal magic act has been as entertaining as anything the floor. Get ready for another summer of the same.
The difference now is that any right-thinking fan will note the magic man’s frayed top hat and tails, and be entirely justified in checking if the bunny is alive, dead or this year’s version of Turkoglu.
Once again, if Bosh is this important to this many different teams, how could he not be the true pot stirrer of the summer?
Sure, James and Wade are priority No. 1 for most everyone looking to find a savior.
But the nuts and bolts of this summer, the guy that will bring it all together for some team, the guy that might serve as the championship pierce a team is looking for, could very well be Bosh.