Raptors' preference for a Chris Bosh sign-and-trade likely means more suitors than ever and a better chance for a Miami supergroup

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Thumbnail image for bosh_wade.jpgWhy should the teams with cap space get to have all the fun? Even if the Cavs don’t want any part of a sign-and-trade for LeBron and Dwyane Wade seems locked into Miami, the Raptors not only appear open to the idea of signing-and-trading Chris Bosh, but Bryan Colangelo actually prefers it. From Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:

The Toronto Raptors have begun to assess which players they would try to obtain in potential sign-and-trade transactions involving free-agent forward Chris Bosh. Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo told a Toronto radio station he thinks Bosh “likely” will leave the team. Should Bosh decide to sign elsewhere, Colangelo also said the Raptors will try to engage in a sign-and-trade deal to bring the franchise some measure of compensation.

Sources said the Raptors will try to acquire draft picks and young players in return for Bosh. They would likely ask for forward Michael Beasley and point guard Mario Chalmers in any deal with the Miami Heat. If Bosh were to go to the Chicago Bulls, the Raptors like forward Taj Gibson and center Joakim Noah, though Noah could prove impossible to pry from Chicago. If Bosh settles on the New York Knicks, the Raptors would try to engage in a double sign-and-trade that sends Knicks forward David Lee to Toronto. Sources called a potential sign-and-trade with the Los Angeles Lakers “doubtful.”

That’s great and all, but if the Raptors really are exploring sign-and-trade possibilities, that opens up a whole new group of suitors for Chris Bosh’s services. So far, we know two things about Bosh: he wants to play his natural position (power forward) and wants to be “the man.” Whatever that means. So in addition to Bosh’s assumed free agent suitors, we could also add a number of other teams to the mix.

The Denver Nuggets, for example, may be able to put together an interesting package featuring Ty Lawson, Kenyon Martin’s expiring contract, and draft picks. The Houston Rockets could combine expiring contracts with intermediate value (like Shane Battier) with young, proven assets (like Aaron Brooks) and even a signed-and-trade Luis Scola, who I’m sure appeals to Colangelo’s Euro sensibilities.

The Oklahoma City Thunder could even make a play (perhaps involving Jeff Green, Eric Maynor, Serge Ibaka, or any number of intriguing players) if Bosh is willing to play nice with Kevin Durant. Such move would negate the Thunder’s one real weakness, and the idea of a Westbrook-Sefolosha-Durant-Bosh-Aldrich starting lineup is absolutely fantastic.

All of those options are conjecture, but Colangelo opening the door for a sign-and-trade not only allows Chris Bosh to immediately join a competitive team, but could actually net the Raptors something in return. Colangelo obviously won’t get anything near equal value, but the assets Toronto could potentially acquire may help to jump-start a rebuild.

Of course, the giant, league-changing elephant in the room is the Miami Project, Pat Riley’s no-going-back plan for basketball proliferation. If Bosh were signed-and-traded to the Heat (which Dan LeBatard “reports” — and I use that term loosely given the source — is a done deal, even if it’s only agreed to in principle), it would have to include both Beasley and Chalmers going to Toronto, as Spears noted above. Miami still wouldn’t have enough cap room to sign both Dwyane Wade and LeBron James to max deals outright, but we’re at least looking at a cap figure that would allow something in the ballpark of two max contracts.

Someone would have to take a pay cut, but a sign-and-trade move for Bosh would position the hands on the Doomsday Clock a few minutes closer to midnight. Still, Bosh doesn’t see it happening, and Michael Grange of the Toronto Globe and Mail cites a source that refutes the immediate Bosh-to-Miami rumors. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen, but we can at least wait a little while longer before we crawl under our desks to wait for the fallout.   

Tim Hardaway Jr. calls fallen ref safe rather than defend shot (video)

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The Knicks went on a 28-0 run.

They earned the right to showboat late in their win over the Raptors last night.

Tim Hardaway Jr. called a ref, who slipped on the baseline, safe rather than contest Serge Ibaka‘s 3-pointer. Perfection!

Luc Mbah a Moute sets modern record at +57 in Rockets’ win over Nuggets

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Luc Mbah a Moute is a quietly good player.

He’s an effective and versatile defender. Offensively, he shoots 3-pointers well enough to score efficiently and spread the floor. Most of all, the 31-year-old just understands how to play and plays within himself. His teams tend to perform better when he’s on the floor.

That’s an understatement for Wednesday night.

In a 125-95 win, the Rockets outscored the Nuggets by a whopping 57 points in Mbah a Moute’s 26 minutes. That’s the best single-game plus-minus in the Basketball-Reference database, which dates back to the 2000-01 season. It tops Joe Smith’s +52 in a 2001 Timberwolves win over the Bulls, a 53-point game that also produced a +50 for Wally Szczerbiak and +48 for Terrell Brandon.

Mbah a Moute’s traditional stat line was impressive, though not overly so: 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting with four rebounds, four steals and an assist. He played well, contributing to winning in all the small ways he often does, and the Rockets happened to play excellently around him.

Now, Mbah a Moute tops the leaderboard in single-game plus-minus since 2000-01:

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Did Russell Westbrook get mad at Steven Adams for not taking potential triple-double-clinching shot? (video)

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Russell Westbrook chases triple-doubles.

That hardly makes him unique. He’s just close enough to the feat more often than other players, so he chases them more often.

But he still chases them.

Late in the Thunder’s 108-91 win over the Warriors last night, Westbrook was heading toward his final line of 34 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. His teammates shot off his passes on three of Oklahoma City’s final four possessions before he took a seat (including one assist). The exception came when he passed to Steven Adams, who passed rather than shoot – clearly upsetting Westbrook.

Was Westbrook mad because he missed his chance at a triple-double? Maybe.

Was Westbrook mad because Adams passed as the shot clock neared expiration? Maybe.

It could be both!

Watch Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry on Golden State’s bench. They clearly found something funny.

Report: Teams are calling Clippers about DeAndre Jordan trades

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Injuries have ravaged the Clippers. They started the season 4-0 have been without three starters from opening night: Milos Teodosic (plantar fascia injury, he is still in a walking boot), Danilo Gallinari (strained left glute), and now point guard Patrick Beverley is out for the season after microfracture surgery on his knee.

All this has led to the Clippers losing nine in a row before beating the Hawks Friday night. All the weight of the offense has fallen on Blake Griffin‘s shoulders, and while he’s been good most of the game in the fourth quarter his numbers have plummeted, and the Clippers have stumbled.

It’s left the Clippers with a couple of hard questions.

Do they need a coaching change? There was a sense from sources around the league that Rivers is already on his way out — he was stripped of GM/president powers over the summer — and what kept him around was the couple of seasons at $10 million a year on his contract. That’s a lot of money for an owner to eat, even Steve Ballmer, but the time may be coming as a way to shake up the team.

The other, what to do with DeAndre Jordan? They could not work out a contract extension with him (Jordan was acting as his own agent), and one of the league’s top traditional centers is a free agent next summer, but new head basketball guy Lawrence Frank said they want Jordan to be a “Clipper for life.” Does Jordan want to be a Clipper for life? Do the Clippers really want him back, and if so at what price? Does a Clipper franchise trying to get approvals for a new arena in Inglewood want to rebuild now, because it does not help that process? If it’s time to move on and rebuild, do they need to trade him now?

Teams are calling about Jordan, reports Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post.

DeAndre Jordan, who can become a free agent after the season, has been coming up in trade conversations, with multiple teams talking potential trades. Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Lawrence Frank said last month that Jordan will be a “Clipper for life,” muddled matters, as does the limited number of teams who need a center and the size of Jordan’s contract ($22.6 million).

Jordan is an All-NBA center, a defensive force in the paint who sets a strong pick, rolls hard to the rim, can finish with the best of them, and is averaging 10.4 points (scoring and attempts are down without Chris Paul feeding him) and 13.4 rebounds a game. Jordan knows who he is and plays within himself.

It’s not hard to imagine how he could help teams such as Cleveland, Washington, Milwaukee, and a host of others. The question is what would teams be willing to give up to get him — they have to send back salary to match, but will not want to give up assets that help them win now. The Clippers will be looking for good young players and picks back in the package, which makes it hard for a team such as Cleveland to put together a package.

But before they discuss trade scenarios, the Clippers need to figure out what they want to do. Life has come at them fast this season and led to a lot of big-picture questions that Frank and Ballmer need to answer.