Ever since Lebron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade all eschewed longer contracts and signed shorter three year extensions back in 2007, the basketball world has been anticipating the summer of 2010.
On July 1st that trio will hit free agency with numerous possible destinations thanks to the salary cap scrambling of several teams as they prepared for the big bonanza.
Chris Bosh tweeted his own wish-list last week, revealing that he was open to playing in any of Chicago, Miami, New York, Los Angeles and Toronto next year, so let's examine the scenarios that could play out and the effect they would have on the Toronto Raptors.
Scenario A: Sign & Trade with Marcus Banks or Reggie Evans for Luol Deng, Kirk Hinrich and Taj Gibson
In order to get back the one guy they actually want (Gibson), the Raptors would also have to take the Bulls two worst contracts, but they do get to relieve themselves of a bad contract of their own. Two major problems with this: 1) neither Deng nor Hinrich fit very well with the rest of the current roster; and 2) it's never a smart move to get rid of a one year $5 million contract for two, multiple year $10 million contracts.
Chances of it actually happening: 1%
Scenario B: Sign & Trade for Michael Beasley, Udonis Haslem, Free Agent X and two first round draft-picks
If this were to happen it might kill the NBA in Toronto. Unless someone hires Isiah Thomas to run their team we're stuck with Andrea Bargnani and Hedo Turkoglu for the next four years. Adding Michael Beasley to the mix, even if it were for only one year, would be too much. The number of lifeless jumpers and the amount of indifference on the defensive end would cause Jay Triano's replacement to resign. No, not re-sign. Resign as in quit.
Chances of it actually happening: 0.5%
Scenario C: Sign & Trade for David Lee
In this situation the Raptors would sign Bosh to a massive extension that may or may not be the maximum but would certainly be in the neighborhood of $17 million a year. The Knicks would sign Lee to a Hedo Turkoglu type of deal (say 5 years and $55 million) and include Sergio Rodriguez and Wilson Chandler to make the salaries work. With a starting five that included Bargnani, Lee, Turkoglu and Calderon, the Raps would have the potential to be the worst defensive team in the history of basketball.
Chances of it actually happening: 18%
Scenario D: Sign & Trade for Andrew Bynum (with the Lakers including Jordan Farmar)
Most people look at the Lakers and see a team that doesn't need to do anything...that wouldn't dream of doing anything. They're about to go to their third straight NBA finals and are on the verge of back-to-back championships. Why mess with a good thing, right? Well, first remember that they switched in Ron Artest for Trevor Ariza last year, and second, how many stories have you heard about Kobe mercilessly harping on Bynum for his injuries, immaturity, inconsistent play, bowling too much, being too big, whatever. The point is, Kobe has never been a big Bynum fan. In Toronto Bynum, who was never better than the third option in LA, would instantly become 1 or 1A on offence. The Raptors would get a 22 year-old seven foot center who has the talent and proven ability to replace the 20 and 10 that Bosh takes with him. Even with Bynum's significant injury history this deal makes the most sense.
Chances of it actually happening: 40%
Scenario E: Bosh leaves as a Free Agent
For the Raptors, this could be the most beneficial outcome to the entire Bosh saga. Seriously. Take another look at those options. I could live with Bynum, and everyone else listed certainly has his merits, but every one of them would be hard-pressed to live up to their contract. And Bosh wouldn't live up to his if he chose to re-sign and stay here either. He's not good enough to be the best player on a championship team and carrying his contract would have been a burden moving forward...just as carrying any of the contracts listed above would be a burden. The better option would be to let him walk and then sign a few lower tier free agents after the market settles. None of the above options are going to take this team to the next level, so why bother forcing something?
Chances of it actually happening: 41%
Scenario F: Bosh re-signs and stays
Not. Going. To. Happen.
Chances of it actually happening: 0%