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.   

Reports: Minnesota working hard to trade Ricky Rubio by deadline; Knicks swap for Rose possible

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 28: Ricky Rubio #9 of the Minnesota Timberwolves brings the ball down court against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center on December 28, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that , by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
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On paper, Ricky Rubio seemed a good fit for the Tom Thibodeau’s Timberwolves: He’s a gifted passer and strong defender who knows how to run a team. In practice, his lack of shooting on a team of slashers and a big man inside — Karl-Anthony Towns — allowed teams to clog the lane.

So the Timberwolves are working hard to find a landing spot for him before the trade deadline at 3 p.m. Eastern, according to multiple reports.

This has led to talks with the Knicks of a Ricky Rubio for Derrick Rose swap, and there is more than just smoke with this. Although, if there is enough fire to get a deal done is another question entirely.

A Rose/Rubio swap is a small win for the Knicks — Rubio would find a way to get the ball to Kristaps Porzingis and Carmelo Anthony, plus he improves their defense. Also, it means they don’t have to overpay Rose or another point guard this summer as Rubio is under contract for next season.

For the Timberwolves, they get a guy who will get them some buckets on the drive but who also takes opportunities out of the hands of Towns, Andrew Wiggins and everyone else. Plus Minnesota’s defense gets worse. I’m not sure how that gets them to the playoffs.

Yao Ming elected Chinese Basketball Association president

SPRINGFIELD, MA - SEPTEMBER 09:  Yao Ming reacts during the 2016 Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony at Symphony Hall on September 9, 2016 in Springfield, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
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BEIJING (AP) — The Chinese Basketball Association has voted unanimously to appoint NBA Hall of Famer Yao Ming as its president.

The CBA’s social media account quoted Yao as saying at a ceremony on Thursday that he hoped to reform the domestic league’s draft system and push more Chinese players into the international arena.

Yao’s appointment is considered as a reform step for an association which until now has typically been led by government sports officials.

Yao, 36, was one of the first Chinese athletes to become an international household name when the Houston Rockets drafted him with the first pick in 2002. The 2.29-meter (7-foot-6) center played for eight seasons before retiring in 2011, citing chronic injuries.

The Shanghai-born Yao was elected to the NBA Hall of Fame in 2016.

As trade rumors swirl, Paul George gets back to work with Pacers

MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 14:  Paul George #13 of the Indiana Pacers looks on during a game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on December 14, 2016 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Paul George showed up to work Wednesday wearing the same Indiana Pacers uniform he has all season.

He has no changes planned for Thursday either.

With rumors swirling about George’s future and the NBA’s trade deadline set for 3 p.m. EST on Thursday, the four-time All-Star tried to tamp down speculation by staying focused on his current job.

“I’ve got a team to turn around in the second half, and that’s what I’m committed to,” he said Wednesday after an evening practice at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

George could have avoided a bit of conflict if he had used those same words in an interview Friday on ESPN radio.

Instead, he talked about his desire to “play on a winning team” after being asked about a possible extension with the Pacers, leading some to wonder if George is uneasy about a longterm deal in Indiana. An unwillingness to sign could land him on the trading block.

George knows it’s all part of the basketball business, even if it’s tricky for big-name players.

If he is actually available, the 26-year-old star would be one of the hottest commodities on the market.

George is again one of the league’s best scorers, has appeared on the league’s all-defensive team three times and was the NBA’s Most Improved Player in 2013. He’s led his team to two conference finals and won an Olympic gold medal. And he has a propensity for delivering on promises, like when he swore to come back better than ever after breaking his lower right leg in a horrifying scene 2+ years ago.

Now Pacers fans want to know whether George will make good on another promise: Bringing the franchise its first NBA title.

The decision may rest more with Bird, the Pacers’ president of basketball operations, than George.

Bird is trying to do what’s best for the short and long term. Indiana has lost six straight and is currently seeded sixth in the Eastern Conference.

George wants to be a part of the solution.

“I think we can make moves to get better,” he said. “I’m confident in where we’re at and what we can do.”

George’s contract has added a twist to the traditional discussions.

While Bird has already offered a max contract extension, George can opt out of his current deal after next season. He seemed to indicate he might do just that during last week’s All-Star activities.

“As I told Larry, I always want to play on a winning team. I always want to be part of a team that has a chance to win it (all). That’s important,” George said Friday. “Say what you want; I want to compete for something. It’s frustrating just playing the game for stats or for numbers or to showcase yourself. Man, I want a chance to play for a chance to win a championship.

“I wanted to be the first and want to be the first to be able to bring a championship to Indiana,” George added. “So that’s still on my mind … and something I definitely want to achieve in Indiana.”

The Indianapolis Star reported Wednesday that George and team owner Herb Simon met in New Orleans, a subject George declined to discuss Wednesday.

George did say that he and Bird are “on the same page.”

What exactly that means for Thursday remains unclear.

Bird must decide what works best – strengthening George’s supporting cast, or collecting players and draft picks so they can go in a different direction.

George’s teammates are hopeful the star is still around for Friday night’s game against Memphis.

“I would hope so,” point guard Jeff Teague said. “I enjoy playing with him. He’s the reason I wanted to be here.”

Reports: Kings front office rushed to trade DeMarcus Cousins, fearing owner would change mind

Vlade Divac, Vivek Ranadive
AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli
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Why did the Kings trade DeMarcus Cousins late Sunday night? Might they have gotten a better off than the Pelicans’ piddly package by waiting until closer to Thursday’s trade deadline?

Kings general manager Vlade Divac felt pressure on multiple fronts.

First, as he said, he had a better offer two days prior and feared the return would only get worse. Cognizant of losing out on the designated-veteran-player extension, Cousins’ agent was threatening not to re-sign with teams that traded for Cousins, and that apparently spooked one at least one potential suitor.

And then there’s Sacramento owner Vivek Ranadive, who reportedly has been intent on keeping Cousins.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports on The Vertical Podcast with Chris Mannix:

They wanted to do this deal before Vivek Ranadive changed his mind again. This talk about this new list of transgressions by Cousins over the last few weeks — the incident with the Golden State fan, the technical fouls now that it turned into suspensions — these were very consistent with what’s gone on. These weren’t new. Now, they used that to say, “Well, we just decided we couldn’t go forward with him.” Management, the front office, they’ve wanted to trade him for a very long time. And they could not get Vivek on board. Once they had Vivek on board, they didn’t want him to change his mind again. A, that was part of the reason they rushed on Sunday to get the deal done.

Marc Stein of ESPN on The Lowe Post podcast:

Vivek has been resistant to a DeMarcus Cousins trade for so long. He was into the Buddy Hield-New Orleans package idea, and the Kings’ front-office people wanted to push this thing through as fast they could before the owner changed his mind. I think that’s where the urgency came.

Cousins contributed to a toxic environment in Sacramento. For all the good he brought, there were plenty of negatives. I understand trading him to improve the culture.

But if you have to rush through a trade before other teams (like the Lakers) have a chance to improve their offers just so your Buddy-Hield loving owner won’t harmfully meddle, maybe jettisoning Cousins won’t eliminate all the dysfunction.