Ford on Bosh and other thoughts on free agency

Earlier this month, SB Nation launched regional projects in 20 different markets, with Houston being one of them.  It’s an innovative approach to local coverage, aggregating onto one page editorialized content for each team from the market.  SB Nation Houston is managed by thedreamshake’s Tom Martin.

On behalf of SB Nation Houston, 1560 The Game’s David Nuño sat down with Indiana Pacer’s guard T.J Ford to discuss a variety of topics, including Toronto Raptors forward Chris Bosh:

DN: Now, the reason I’m glad you said that is because the Rockets are very interested in adding a guy like Chris Bosh… I’m curious as to what your thoughts are on this. Would he be a good fit with Yao? Without Yao? With the current group? Can he fit on any team? Is he an alpha dog? What kind of player could he be with the Rockets?

TF: I guess it’s a possibility, but I don’t see it happening with the Rockets, in my opinion. I think the fact that so many guys wanna play with LeBron James and Dwayne Wade, that they’re in the best situation because they’ve been able to spend two to three years in the summertime with these guys, as free agents, being on the U.S. Olympic team. So I think that’s the advantage they have over the Rockets.

Ford’s comments are interesting in light of reports from earlier this summer of Bosh’s alleged interest in being “the man.”  That talk has all but died down in recent weeks.

My prediction has been that Bosh would wind up in Miami, but based on the rumors regarding his mindset, I’ve thought the Houston Rockets had a chance.

Yet I wonder how much truth there was behind those earlier claims because the whole thing strikes me as odd.  It makes little sense that someone would base his decision partly on being the team’s best player – I mean really, who thinks like that?  I completely understand wanting a bigger role, like the psychology which fueled Ariza to Houston and McGrady to Orlando, or avoiding teams stacked with talent at one’s own position.  But for an established All-Star, there is little practical difference, if any at all, between being the best player or the second best player on a team, especially if the man to whom you are ‘the sidekick’ plays the opposing role on the court (ie: frontcourt/backcourt).

It does far more for legacy to be #2 on a winner than #1 somewhere else.  I don’t think Pau Gasol laments being traded to LA where success has led many to hail him as the league’s most skilled big man.  I seriously doubt Gasol arises every morning and thinks, “I haven’t heard anyone call me a soft loser in over a year now and that FanHouse article about me entering the discussion as the best ever international player was nice, but it sure was great being the man in Memphis.”  While unfortunate, as I’ve pointed out at every chance, it’s all about the hardware, and these players understand that.

So I don’t see Bosh coming.  The question though is what Morey is thinking and we’ll get to that below after I go off on this tangent.  Like I said, I think Bosh goes to Miami.  They’ll look at different scenarios, I think, and base decisions collectively.  The fact that Amare Stoudemire is now assured of leaving makes matters all the more interesting because it provides both James and Wade with legitimate tag-team options.  The dynamic is more interesting – they can safely ignore Carlos Boozer and Joe Johnson’s phone calls.  (Because really, who is going to stake their future upon Carlos Boozer or Joe Johnson?  They’re the guys you pump up to secure your power but really want not part of once that has passed.  But I digress…)

Anyways, I think Wade and James will look at scenarios.  Probably fight over Bosh at first (he’s clearly superior to ‘Stat.’)  Sort of a “you already have a ring”…”dude, I’m like 28 too” thing and that initial conflict might just be settled with a coin toss.  (If they wanted to be fair, they would pair Bosh with Wade and James with Amare and make sure Stat never found out.)

It all hinges on James.  I said he would go to New York.  Since that post, the popular pick has been the Bulls so I’ll hop upon that tide of wisdom.  If he’s smart, and if his people are smart, that’s where he goes, especially with Thibs now running the show.  Picking the Bulls defines realism.  People will be comparing Noah to Bill Russell by this time next year, or something outrageous, after Thibs gets through with him.  And Rose is as good as it gets and young too.  So I think Lebron will look to Chicago and they’ll hope to bring Bosh via sign&trade, dangling Luol Deng (excuse the alliteration.)  Unless Paxson has compromising photos of Colangelo, they’ll get laughed at and the ‘dream scenario’ will be dead. (And by the way, with the way the Bosh-to-Chicago-via-sign&trade scenario has been discussed, you know, as if it actually had more than a shred of chance of coming to fruition, you’re starting to think these photos exist…because there is no way the proposal of a rebuilding Raptors squad taking on Luol Deng’s monstrosity of a contract should be held in any more esteem than a scenario trading Brian Cook to Orlando for Dwight Howard…)

So that gets shot down and Lebron has to make a decision.  Chicago’s the only suitor where if he goes, they’ll be stacked.  Well I guess the Clips and New Jersey too, but noone thinks they have much of a chance.  But will Miami be considered?  If they can trade Beasley to Toronto for Bosh, they can tack on a few extra million for the latter with Wade/James promising to pay him back.  Chicago vs. Miami gives rise to the classic conflict pitting pragmatism and idealism: Riles is flashy but Thibs is probably better (esp. if old age has paved way for senility); Wade’s the bigger name, but Rose is far younger and probably the better fit; Noah can do the dirty work for years.

I’ve forgotten where I was going with all of this but I think the point was that Bosh will follow James and Wade and consequently, receive a huge boost to his league reputation with the ensuing success he’ll enjoy.

Now the question is Morey.  First, unbeknownst to us, he probably already knows their chances at Bosh.  (they’ve probably devised some statistical model to assess, along with their odds at Bosh, the likely destination of every 8th-grader in the country.) But let’s say it’s like 7%.  Do you hold on for that 7% chance at landing the one guy more than anyone in basketball who fits your team perfectly or do you blow the proverbial load in the draft?  Honestly from a risk perspective, I would have to assume the latter.  But that opens up other questions of similar thematic nature: what’s the true value of the NY picks?  It’s within the realm of possibility that if you hold on, you could land the 2nd and 6th picks in subsequent drafts.  But how likely is that?  Is it better to sacrifice that potential value for a sure thing in the present, even at a much lower return?  I do think that will be the eventual call.

And where does Yao Ming fit into this?  On the one hand, one could posit that if he only has 3 years left in his prime, it would be smart to avoid rookies and load up on veteran talent.  But I don’t think that’s wise to put all of one’s eggs into the Yao basket.  These are all issues which I will explore more deeply in later posts.

Update: My understanding is that that quote from the recent article being cited everywhere was a rehash from earlier in the year.  Any confirmation on this?  Relevant because, of course, that would invalidate much of what you see above.

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