Report: Chris Bosh gives Raptors five teams he wants to play for, wants to play with LeBron James

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nba_bosh1.jpgUPDATE 5/22 9:52 am: Bosh’s agent has denied there is a list to our own Ira Winderman (writing for the South Florida Sun Sentinel).

“I haven’t closed the door on anything,” (Henry) Thomas insisted. “I haven’t
given Bryan any lists. There is no list. This is a process that is
ongoing.”

Nobody believes that, especially since later on Toronto General Manager Bryan Colangelo confirmed to ESPN that they have been given a list.  Winderman, later on in his piece, says sources tell him there is a list, although the five-team one listed by ESPN is incomplete.

While Bosh cannot negotiate with other teams until he is a free agent on July 1, the Raptors can start to negotiate a sign-and-trade deal at any point because they own his rights. For now.

5/21 5:47 pm: ESPN is reporting that Chris Bosh’s agent has provided the Toronto Raptors with a list of five teams he would like to play for on his next contract.

One of them is Toronto. So that’s nice. They’re still in the running. That has to make them feel better as they stare down the barrel of the gun that’s been aimed at them for the past six months.

The other teams are the Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, and New York Knicks. The Raptors were informed of this in the event they want to begin pursuing sign and trade deals with those teams. The report says Bosh prefers that option because it nets him the extra year and salary that goes along with it. It’s also likely that Bosh doesn’t want to desert his first NBA home without giving them anything in return.

If we’re assuming sign and trade, go ahead and throw New York out. They’ve got four players on roster and not nearly enough to cover a max contract. Miami is also unlikely, barring some bizarre double sign-and-trade that would never happen. Which leaves us with the Raptors, Bulls, and Lakers. Let’s put the Raptors aside for a moment because just by telling the Raptors this, you have to consider the odds of them retaining him low. This seems more like a “Hey, so, you might want to start making plans” conversation, even if his heartstrings could still be pulled back North.

The Bulls and Lakers would both have packages that would interest the Raptors. The Bulls have contracts of lower length and don’t have considerable young talent to provide. The Lakers on the other hand, have big contracts to fill the void, including Andrew Bynum, a big man with enough upside to draw the Raptors interest should Bosh want to follow up on his little visit to Staples earlier last month.

The deciding factor could end up being something else entirely. LeBron James. ESPN’s sources indicate that Bosh is likely to sign with Chicago if James chooses the Windy City. In that eventuality, a quick sign and trade netting Luol Deng and his death scourge contract and Kirk Hinrich would probably be worked out. It would also pretty much make for the most dominant Eastern team with a starting five of Derrick Rose, Some Person-Who-Cares, LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Joakim Noah. Run, children. Vaminos.

This list isn’t shocking by any means, but it is a significant development. It means that leaving is formally on Bosh’s mind, and he’s pursuing an exit strategy, even if giving the Raptors hope by including them on the list. It means the Lakers are in play, which somehow makes the team headed to the Finals even scarier than they already are. And it means that LeBron does have the power to shift momentum.

The Heat are going to have to figure out a strategy for convincing Bosh to forgo that final year if they want to lure Bosh in. New York may want to start considering Plan B.

Report: Markelle Fultz was available in trade packages on draft night

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The Philadelphia 76ers are saying all the right things about Markelle Fultz — they are patient, they believe in his work with his new trainer to rebuild his jump shot, and they see him as part of the future. Plus, his handles look sharp.

That doesn’t mean the Sixers are not willing to trade him in their pursuit of a star player. In fact, he was available on draft night in packages, reports Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The Sixers say they aren’t shopping him. However, there was a report that they had internal discussions about packing him with Nos. 10 and 26 picks to move up into the Top 5 in Thursday’s draft. And multiple league sources have said that Fultz was available to be traded.

But it’s hard to get equal value in return for trading someone relearning how to shoot. The Sixers know that. They also know that if things do come together, Fultz will be a special player. He has the potential to become the type of player they would regret trading away.

Outside of a handful of superstars, every player in the NBA is available in a trade, at least in theory. Fultz is no different. The question in his case is what do they see as an upgrade vs. his potential?

Kawhi Leonard would be an upgrade, unquestionably. Fultz could be part of a package to land Leonard in a trade (Fultz, Robert Covington, the Miami 2021 first rounder, and probably more picks would be a starting point). Once the Spurs get serious about a potential Leonard trade (they are not there yet) how enticing that offer might be comes down to what they think of Fultz and his potential.

The Sixers are not shy about their desire to land an established All-Star to pair with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. If they don’t get Leonard, they will be looking at the next All-Star who becomes available, and Fultz could be part of those deals, too.

Fultz is not playing in Summer League for the Sixers, but if he comes back this fall trusting his jumper and starting to look like the player who was drafted No. 1 that trade value goes way up (and the Sixers may be less inclined to move him).  It may be then before the Sixers can get a respectable return on any Fultz trade.

Report: Indiana to retain Bojan Bogdanovic, he could start again next season

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Bojan Bogdanovic is the kind of floor spacing shooter the Pacers need next to the attacking Victor Oladipo. He started 80 games for the team, scored 14.3 points per game and shot 40.2 percent from three.

Bogdanovic is due $10.5 million next season, but the Pacers can buy him out before next Friday (June 29) for $1.5 million.

They’re not going to do that, the Pacers are going to retain Bogdanovic, reports Ben Gibson at the Pacers site 8points9seconds.com.

The Indiana Pacers currently plan to retain Bojan Bogdanovic — whose contract is only partially guaranteed for next season — and would be comfortable going into next season with him as a starter, according to a source familiar with the Pacers offseason plans.

There’s no surprise here, it was expected. Bogdanovic provides genuine value to the team — they need him on the court as a shooter, he averaged the second most threes per game on the squad. And, as an expiring contract, he could be used in any potential trades for another star.

The Pacers also have a decision to make on Darren Collison, who is owed $10 million next season but has a $2 million buyout by July 1. They will probably keep him around.

Al Jefferson is owed $10 million next season but can be bought out for $4 million before next January 10. Expect the Pacers to exercise that option and buy him out well before that date.

Carmelo Anthony sends message to haters: ‘Take A Step Back… And Enjoy Life’

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When the expected became official and Carmelo Anthony opted to take the $27.8 million contractually owed him next season, there were groans from the Thunder faithful.

It was Anthony’s right — and everyone knew he was going to take the cash (we all would have done the same) — but his value on the court has shrunk and that’s what eats at the OKC faithful. Anthony’s response on Instagram was, essentially, “relax, it’s just basketball.”

It will be interesting to see if Anthony is back with the Thunder next season, or if he gets bought out. If he does return, how do they better fit him in the offense?

Anthony’s defense has long been a concern, but his offense used to be efficient enough, and his ability to create shots important enough, that teams lived with the defense. However, his efficiency has slid in recent years and, as we saw in the playoffs in April, it’s not enough anymore. The Thunder played better with other lineups. To which Anthony responded he has to get back to his old style of play more.

It’s going to be a wild summer in OKC. Whatever happens.

Suns to sign French point guard Elie Okobo to first-round style contract

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The Suns have an impressive young core four: Devin Booker at the two, Mikal Bridges at the three, Josh Jackson at the four, and Deandre Ayton at center.

The hole: Who will be the point guard?

The Suns like Elie Okobo of France a lot. They drafted him 31st overall, the top pick of the second round, but they will give him a first-round style contract with two guaranteed seasons and two team options after that, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

The Suns hinted they were going to do this, and it’s a smart move at a fair price if they can develop Okobo (even as a backup).

Okobo has potential. Last season, at the highest level of the athletic French league he averaged 13.2 points on 57 percent shooting (38 percent from three) plus 4.4 assists per game. Okobo is an NBA level athlete who has all the tools to be a good NBA point guard — and he already knows how to score (he had 44 points in a playoff game this season). He’s going to have to round out his game and adapt to the NBA style, but the Suns think they have something.

And they are betting they have with a nice sized contract.