It's become pretty clear that the top target for the both the Bulls organization and fans on blogabull is Chris Bosh. He seems to have the best mix of offense/defense/rebounding of any PF on the market, and with Tyrus Thomas almost certainly gone, would be the biggest single upgrade the Bulls can make in the offseason. The youngest all-star PF at 25 years old, he showed up in the best condition of his career, and is having his best year by far. He could easily be a cornerstone of the franchise with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah for the next 7 years.
He turned down an extension last year, and in declining to commit to the Raptors long-term, everyone assumed that meant he was leaving. Unlike Wade, he didn't even make demands to "improve or else" which would have at least meant he wanted to stay if things went right.
Recent developments have caused me to question whether those assumptions are correct. Is it possible that Chris Bosh could stay in Toronto? If so, what does that mean for the 2010 free agent class in general, and the Bulls specifically?
More after the jump.
Bosh is not getting traded mid season. Unlike Boozer and Stoudemire, this has never even been discussed by their GM, Bryan Colangelo. I listed the reasons in another post but here they are again.
They’d like to finish out the season with Bosh and not lose out on regular season and playoff ticket receipts
They believe Bosh might come back
If Bosh leaves they believe they'll get just as good a deal in a sign and trade as they’d get now
1. Bryan Colangelo is probably not crazy.
Why isn't Colangelo trading Bosh? Take a look at this recent quote about Bosh from a Sports Illustrated article on Bosh.
"the cornerstone of the franchise, which is why our approach or intention has been, rightly or wrongly, to keep him here long term either through the signing of an extension or a new free-agent contract come July 2010."
I'm going to assume, as the title says, that Colangelo isn't crazy. Isn't it fair to say that he talks to Bosh and his agent, and knows at least a little bit about Bosh's intentions? Would an NBA GM, part of a group not known for being risk takers, really take the chance that he gets nothing back for the 5th best player in the NBA, according to PER (26.19). Despite the fact that a sign and trade is likely, it is not guaranteed. What if Bosh wants to go to the Bulls, and the Bulls aren't willing to give up Rose, Deng or Noah? Would the Raptors take back players they don't really want, or just walk away from the table? At any point since last year Colangelo could have traded Bosh to a team of their choice for players of their choice. This summer it will be a choice between taking what's offered or nothing.
2. Team success.
In case you haven't noticed, Toronto is 19-9 in games since December, 5th in the playoff race, trying to continue a 5game winning streak (including a Lakers win) against Indiana tonight, and has what could be February's easiest schedule. The momentum they build up could be carried into a touch March schedule, and it is not inconceivable that they'll pass Boston due to it's recent freefall and constant stream of injuries (Pierce being the latest). The end game is that Toronto could very well win the Atlantic conference and end up as the 3rd seed, enabling them to avoid facing Cleveland until the EC finals, and making it conceivable that they could get there.
Does one playoff series win swing things for Bosh? How about two?
3. Individual success
I've already detailed how Bosh is having the best season of his career. The question is if Bosh attributes that all to his own hard work, or does a part of him believe that the team around him now is making him a better player. Does he like Bargnani spacing the floor from the C position, Turkoglu's passing ability from the SF position? Maybe he likes not having to compete for rebounds with anyone on his team.
Here's a few of quotes from Bosh.
"This is the position you want to be in," Bosh said. "I always tell people that when we were kids shooting in the backyard or in the park or something, you’re the man taking the last shot. You’re not in the corner giving a high five after a man hits it. You think about being the best player on the court. I’ve been really blessed to be the focal point. I think it’s crazy that it actually happened."
"I don't think I am considered one of best forwards in the league, and I want to be considered the best"
And when he became Toronto's all time scoring leader:
"I’m going to hype up the situation. I’m going to tell the story tomorrow, and the fish is going to be this big, you know what I mean?" Bosh said with his arms separated by a wide margin. "You have to make it dramatic and I like telling stories. Hopefully I’m able to tell my kids when it’s all said and done."
Or when he defended Toronto after Chipper Jones made some comments.
"I have fun. I have a blast every day," Bosh said. "You have got to feel good to go outside. If you're going to go somewhere, the clouds kind of make you lazy...
"You have got museums, restaurants, clubs if you want to go out at night,"Bosh said. "There's anything you want to do, shopping. That's what I like to do."
How much do we really know about how much individual success drives this man? The Chicago fan thinks, "Great, Bosh won't have to do everything himself. Noah can grab rebounds, Rose can help with scoring." Meanwhile Bosh may be thinking, "So my rebounding numbers would go down, I won't get as many touches on offense or be the primary offensive threat, Rose will be taking all of the last second shots, and if I ever do have team success people will say it's because I was on Derrick Rose's team."
Bosh has a legacy in Toronto, and Toronto is pretty much the only team he will be on that's considered his team. If he joins a team with another all-star he may very well be reduced to high fiving after last second shots. If he joins a team without another all star... wait... why the heck would he leave Toronto to do that? He has said that he expects to make the max contract no matter what team he is on, so money does have some meaning for him. $30 million is the difference in guaranteed money between what Toronto can offer him directly or in a sign and trade, and the max another team could offer.
So what are your thoughts Blogabullers? Did I put together a convincing case that Bosh could stay in Toronto? Assuming he did, what does that mean for the Bulls? Should they trade for Stoudemire now, and not wait to see what Bosh does? Should the plan become all about Dwayne Wade, and to that end should they trade Hinrich for whatever they can get immediately as he becomes useless on a team with Rose and Wade? Could Bosh staying start a chain reaction where almost no one leaves their current team, and the Bulls are stuck with a bag of money and a frown?