Houston Rockets – Toronto Raptors discussion on Chris Bosh

In light of the rumors regarding the Houston Rockets’ alleged interest in Chris Bosh, I decided to get together with Sam Holako of ESPN TrueHoop Toronto Raptors blog Raptors Republic to get his perspective on some of the possibilities.

Rahat: So the last time we spoke, you were confident that Chris Bosh would be remaining in Toronto.  We’re both aware of the recent rumors/reports, including Friday night’s episode on twitter.  Do you still feel that Chris will return to the Raptors?”

Sam: Call me crazy, but what I hear when Chris speaks is for someone to give him any reason to stay in Toronto. He has consistently said that he doesn’t like change, and that if he believes in the direction Colangelo is going, that he will re-sign. His latest episode on Twitter could have been nothing more than reaching out to the public to get a sense of what they think about him. He explicitly said in his exit interview that he will be keep BC in the loops, and do what’s best for him and the Raptors. These are the words of someone who wants to stay, who will do what’s best for the franchise, and will do what’s best for himself. Not the words of someone who has a foot out the door.

Rahat: You could completely be correct.  However, theoretically, let’s assume that he does decide to leave.  What team do you think would be his top preference?

Sam: If he was to leave, I see him wanting to go to either Houston or Chicago. Miami is out because he wouldn’t be the franchise player. New York is out because that team is further away from winning a championship than Toronto is. Oklahoma could be an interesting landing spot for him, but he would need to accept the role of a ‘Pau Gasol’: possibly the most important piece on the team, but not the main franchise player.

Rahat: I feel comfortable ruling out the Thunder as not only is Durant the clear-cut #1, but the team also does not fill the rumored requirement of playing in a large city.  ESPN’s Ric Bucher has seemed confident that Durant will not land with the Thunder.

It’s interesting that you rule out Miami because I think that the Heat pose as maybe the strongest suitor.  The Heat could offer Michael Beasley to the Raptors in addition to a large ‘traded player exception’, allowing the Raptors to send out Bosh without taking back unwanted salary.  Of course, the real question is how strong is Chris’ desire to be the man?  He certainly would not have that role with Dwayne Wade in tow.

I think it’s clear that if Bosh leaves, it will be via the sign&trade route.  If signing somewhere outright, he would be leaving $30million on the table, and I just can’t see that happening.  However, for this reason, while his destination is his decision, he really holds no leverage and the Raptors ultimately hold all of the cards.

For example – Bosh could pick Houston and tell Colangelo to work out a sign&trade with the implicit threat of signing outright in NY/CHI/MIA if the Raptors do not comply.  But in that scenario, because it’s so unlikely that Bosh would sacrifice $30million, Toronto could call his bluff and not cooperate if they do not find the Rockets’ trade package desireable.

So while Bosh has a strong voice in the process, Toronto is in the driver’s seat and it could come down to which team has the strongest offer.  In that vein, whose package do you think the Raptors would find most appealing?

Miami can offer Beasley; the Bulls could offer some parts.  If Dallas emerges as a suitor, despite the rumors of Chris’ lack of interest, they could offer Eric Dampier’s very unique partially-guaranteed expiring contract and a blue chip prospect in Rodrigue Beaubois.

In Jordan Hill, Chase Budinger, Sergio Lull, Trevor Ariza and two lightly protected New York draft picks, the Houston Rockets are equipped with assets galore for a deal of this nature.  Unfortunately for them, because they do not have the cap space enjoyed by some of the other suitors, any deal would almost certainly need to include either Shane Battier or Jared Jeffries (unless involving Luis Scola in a double sign&trade.)  While Battier and Jeffries have expiring deals, Toronto will not be too enthusiastic about absorbing that deadweight salary.  (Though Battier could have value to contenders in a follow-up move.)

Surveying the field, by whose potential package do you think the Raptors would be most enticed?

Sam: I agree on ruling out Oklahoma City for both those reasons. I only bring them up as the best chance of Bosh joining a team, as a max player, that can compete right away for a championship.

I rule out Miami for the same reason OKC is out: there is a clear #1 waiting for help. As far as Beasley goes, I don’t think the Raptor fan base can deal with another talented, but lazy (read Bargnani) player on the team. The massive trade exception would be what Colangelo would covet, not Beasley (or at least I hope he doesn’t covet him).

I think we all agree that Bosh won’t leave all that money on the table, and that the Raptors do in fact have massive leverage if a sign-and-trade is in the cards. (I still say he stays in Toronto).

As far as sign-and-trade partners go, Houston has the best mix of assets to offer. The Knicks can offer Lee, parts and trade exceptions, but we don’t want to trade another all-star to a division rival. The Bulls have a few more pieces to throw in, but I really only want Noah (as Rose is off limits). Dallas is out since Bosh has continually said he doesn’t want to go there; I believe him.

Any combination of Battier, Ariza, Jordan Hill (I’m not high on him, but we will need to replace Bosh at power forward somehow) and picks could get the job done. Sorry but Budinger doesn’t get me excited…

Let me throw this at you though…and you may not like it…but if the Raptors are forced to do a sign-and-trade for Bosh, the team receiving him might have to take Turkoglu as well. Just putting it out there, but if the Raptors are moving Bosh, it’s safe to say we won’t be getting a franchise player in return, so the team is rebuilding (whether Colangelo says it or not). Turkoglu has been a big failure in Toronto, but it doesn’t mean he wouldn’t be valuable to a different team with a real system.

Rahat: I can tell you that there is a better chance of Daryl Morey signing me to the full MLE than there is of him taking back Turkoglu.  If taking Turkoglu is what it will require to get a deal done, Daryl Morey will go elsewhere.  This is a man who, above all else, places a premium upon flexibility.  He’s in no hurry – those assets will only appreciate.  If Daryl Morey doesn’t like a proposed deal, he will wait and strike later.  That has been established.

Your comments on Beasley are interesting because, to this point, I had considered him to be the single most attractive asset to be potentially in play.  Somewhat reassuring that Raptors management may possibly not share that sentiment.

Regarding the Rockets’ assets, keep in mind the implications surrounding those Knicks draft picks.  If the Raptors send Bosh to the Rockets, not only would they keep Bosh from New York, but they would significantly lower New York’s chances of signing Lebron, thereby increasing the value of the picks.

Sam: Flexibility is all nice and good, but at some point, you have to make a push to win a championship. That being said, I have a great deal of respect for Morey, and his ability to build a winning team. The one thing I can assure you is that there will be some looting involved in any sign-and-trade; the Raptors will be giving up a 26 perennial all-star who’s only going to get better. Probably wont get full value, but a big package will have to be put together.

I feel I need to elaborate on Beasley a bit. The guy is a very talented big who can shoot, put it on the floor, and rebound; but he has worn out his welcome on a D-League calibre team because of his work ethic; big freaking red-flag. Could a fresh start change things? Maybe. Will it? I doubt it. Ultimately, having a front court of Beasley and Bargnani makes me violently nauseous.

Rahat: Interesting take.  I guess all we can do for the time being is wait and see how it all unfolds.  Let’s switch gears for a moment:  you got a chance to watch Tracy McGrady up close from the moment he first entered the league.  Judging by his play in the second half, it looks like he could be done.  He’s even hinted at retirement.  At the very least, it’s clear that his days as a frontline player are over.  It’s truly a sad saga for someone still so young and once holding so much promise.

I have made my thoughts on Tracy McGrady quite clear.  What are your thoughts on the issue?

Sam: Wow, you keep twisting that knife in deep huh? I don’t want to sound like a jaded ex, but Tracy made his own bed. The moment he bolted from the Raptors, breaking up a great 1-2 duo with Vince Carter, he put being the man above winning. And we’ve all been witness to the stellar playoff record he has amassed as the franchise player for both the Magic and the Rockets.

The fact that the Rockets have played better without him speaks volumes about what kind of franchise player he is/was. Sure he had promise; sure he was as good as any shooting guard in the league; sure he was arguably the most talented scorer in the league in his prime, but the NBA is littered with better men who also fell short.

As far as his role in the league going forward, if he is healthy, gets in shape (P90X) and is ready to accept a similar role as Stackhouse (37 year old role player who is called on to make clutch plays from time to time), I don’t see why he wouldn’t have a couple more years in the league as a 15-20min a night player.

I wouldn’t call it a sad saga since his goals were to be the franchise player who made mega cash instead of winning, and from where I sit, he seems to have achieved those goals. Fitting his career might have come to an end sittin on the bench of a miserable Knicks team. Maybe I am a jaded ex…

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