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.   

Jahlil Okafor tweets apology for recent off-court behavior

Jahlil Okafor
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The off-court incidents have been piling up for Jahlil Okafor over the past month: first, an incident captured on video that showed Okafor getting into a fight with a heckler early Thanksgiving morning; then, a report that Okafor had a gun pulled on him in a previous incident; and finally, this morning’s report that the Sixers’ No. 3 overall pick in this June’s draft had been pulled over in recent weeks for driving 108 miles per hour in Philadelphia. Together, they aren’t a good look for the rookie.

On Sunday afternoon, Okafor apologized for his recent behavior in a series of tweets:

The recent incidents involving Okafor are surprising—going into the draft, he never had any red flags for maturity or off-the-court issues. He’s certainly saying the right things after the fact, and he’s only 19, so hopefully this is nothing more than a small rough patch where he’s made some bad decisions, and not an indicator of things to come.

Kobe Bryant announces this is his final season


It has seemed like this was it for a while. Kobe Bryant has been frustrated; he hasn’t been able to produce like he expects — his play has been hard to watch — and the Lakers are a train wreck.

Kobe made it official Sunday via the Players’ Tribune — this is his final season. He did it via a letter called “Dear Basketball.”

You gave a six-year-old boy his Laker dream
And I’ll always love you for it.
But I can’t love you obsessively for much longer.
This season is all I have left to give.
My heart can take the pounding
My mind can handle the grind
But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.

And that’s OK.
I’m ready to let you go.
I want you to know now
So we both can savor every moment we have left together.
The good and the bad.
We have given each other
All that we have.

It’s not coincidental this was announced a couple days before the Lakers travel to Kobe’s hometown of Philadelphia to face the Sixers. Also remember Kobe is an investor in The Players’ Tribune.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver quickly released this statement:

“With 17 NBA All-Star selections, an NBA MVP, five NBA championships with the Lakers, two Olympic gold medals and a relentless work ethic, Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest players in the history of our game.  Whether competing in the Finals or hoisting jump shots after midnight in an empty gym, Kobe has an unconditional love for the game.

“I join Kobe’s millions of fans around the world in congratulating him on an outstanding NBA career and thank him for so many thrilling memories.”

Kobe will go down as one of the game’s all-time greats. Few can come close to his resume: Five NBA titles, two NBA Finals MVPs, 15 time All-NBA teams, one MVP, 17 times an All-Star (and the All-Star Game MVP four times). And we could go on and on.

Good on Kobe for doing this now. After 55,000 NBA minutes his body has quit on him, and where his mind is still willing the flesh is clearly weak right now. He has not been able to adapt his game to the changing realities of what he can do.

Kobe has said he doesn’t want a “Derek Jeter Farewell Tour” but that will be the feel from here on out. Expect some special recognition at the All-Star Game in Toronto.

Bulls’ Dunleavy to see specialist after suffering setback with back injury

Mike Dunleavy, Joakim Noah
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CHICAGO—Over the past few weeks, Bulls forward Mike Dunleavy has seemed to be making progress in his back rehab. Dunleavy underwent back surgery shortly before the start of training camp and was initially given a timeline of 8-10 weeks. Recently, he’s been increasing his workload, and he traveled with the team on their recent west coast road trip.

However, his recovery may have hit a snag.

“Mike is going to see a doctor again tomorrow and then we should have a better update after that,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said after practice on Sunday. “He had a little bit of soreness. But we’ll have more on that tomorrow.”

An update to Dunleavy’s status is coming, but given Dunleavy’s age (35) and the frequency of back injuries to reoccur, this news certainly isn’t encouraging. Between Tony Snell and Doug McDermott, the Bulls have struggled at both ends of the floor on the wing. Getting Dunleavy back, whenever that happens, will be a huge help. But nobody knows when that will be.

Stan Van Gundy calls out Andre Drummond’s effort after loss to Thunder

Andre Drummond
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After a promising start to the season, the Pistons have lost three of their last four games and seven of their last 10. And although he’s been outstanding for most of the season, Andre Drummond has not been above receiving criticism from Stan Van Gundy. The coach called out Drummond’s effort on Friday night after a loss to the Thunder.

Via Sportando:

“I didn’t think he brought much energy to the Milwaukee game, and I didn’t think he brought much energy tonight,” Van Gundy said of the two beatings the Pistons received this week. “Why that is, I don’t know. But we need a lot more from him than we got tonight.”

Calling out your best player in the media is bold, but Van Gundy has enough of a track record and a reputation, going back to his days in Orlando with Dwight Howard, that he can get away with it. It also sends a message to the entire team that Van Gundy isn’t going to hold his star to a different standard than the rest of the team.

Despite a couple of poor performances, Drummond is having a career year, leading the league in rebounding at 17.1 per game while also averaging 17.9 points.