The names "LeBron James" and "Dwyane Wade" seem synonymous with the year "2010." But do yourself a favor and try not to act too surprised when both end up re-signing with their original clubs when June rolls around.
But then there is Chris Bosh, the other heralded member of the 2003 draft class who is slated to be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Bosh has neither a championship caliber team, nor a sparkling warm-weather city to fall back on. Seven seasons into Bosh's career, the best his Toronto Raptors have done was 47-35 in '07, win the last Atlantic Division title before the Celtics took over, and get beaten soundly in the first round by a Nets team that had just finished a .500 season.
This year, the Raptors were excited about their chances of getting back into the postseason and doing some damage, especially after they used their cap room to sign versatile sharpshooter Hedo Turkoglu from Orlando.
Pair that with former No. 1 overall pick Andrea Bargnani and point guard Jose Calderon, and it was supposed to be the Raptors—not the Atlanta Hawks—who would challenge the East's established "Big Three" of Boston, Orlando, and Cleveland.
Halfway into the NBA season, the Raptors are 21-20, hardly to be confused with a championship contender. Even if they make the playoffs, it looks likely they will have a date with one of those top three squads, which will mean Toronto's season will be extended by a week at best.
Bosh, who turns just 26 in March, is hardly the reason. The 2008 Olympian is only in his seventh season and averaging career highs of 23.8 points and 11.2 boards per game. Bosh is also shooting a career best 52.2 percent from the field to go with 78.6 percent from the stripe. He is the lone reason the Raptors are even decent right now, and it is not a stretch to say he resembles what Kevin Garnett was at this point of his career.
Instead of waiting for the summer to convince Bosh to spend the prime of his career with a team nowhere close to contending for the Larry O'Brien trophy, the Raptors would be wise to shop him right now and see if they can get something back for him.
They would be wise to look in the Pacific Northwest, where the Portland Trail Blazers, a team with assets to trade for Bosh, reside.
Portland does not have the cap room to acquire Bosh this summer in free agency, but it certainly has the assets to trade for him before the Feb. 18 deadline. If the Blazers did so, they would acquire Bosh's "Bird Rights" with him, meaning they could offer him more money than any other team, regardless of salary cap space, when Bosh inevitably hits the open market this summer.
If the Blazers were serious about acquiring Bosh, the best power forward in the game, they could easily do so without giving up two-time All-Star Brandon Roy. Pairing Roy with Bosh, who are both 25, would create one of the league's most devastating one-two combos. Considering Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol are much older than both, it would be safe to say that Roy and Bosh "got next."
In fact, they can get Bosh without giving up a single All-Star player. A move that sends LaMarcus Aldridge, Rudy Fernandez, Jerryd Bayless, and Travis Outlaw's expiring contract to Toronto for Bosh works under the league's collective bargaining agreement and would significantly alter both franchises.
However, there seems to be a problem in Portland.
It is a problem that starts with its management and trickles down to its fan base. The problem is called "overvaluing its own players." Unfortunately, at least as far as Portland's management is concerned, this stigma can ultimately be the reason for this trade not happening.
That is too bad, because it could cost the Trail Blazers from having a realistic shot at acquiring the best power forward on the planet today.
Portland would also offer Bosh the best player he has ever played with in his career in Roy. Bosh is everything the Blazers want Aldridge, who is just a year younger and averaging 16.0 points and 8.3 rebounds, to be—and so much more.
It also gives Portland GM Kevin Pritchard a chance to translate all of his young assets into a bona fide superstar, a player who is the same age as Roy and who can team with him for the rest of their careers.
The city of Portland is also obsessed with shedding every last trace of the "Jail Blazers" stigma that stenched the city not too long ago. Bosh is every bit the good citizen off of the court as he is a beast on it, proving to be a well-spoken ambassador for the NBA who also helped the country reclaim the gold medal in the 2008 Olympics.
The Raptors, meanwhile, will absolutely not find a better deal for Bosh out there. They get a serviceable replacement in Aldridge, who just signed a five-year extension last season. Youngsters Fernandez and Bayless would fit in perfectly in Bryan Colangelo's "Euroball" offense while Outlaw's expiring contract affords them financial flexibility.
Portland is waiting to get back centers Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla next year from season-ending injuries. Once they get back, they could be looking at a starting five of Oden, Bosh, Nicolas Batum, Roy, and Steve Blake with a bench of Martell Webster, Przybilla, Andre Miller, and youngsters Jeff Pendergraph and Dante Cunningham.
That is still a deep rotation featuring the best power forward and a top-three shooting guard. Fernandez is a fan favorite and Bayless is a tough-nosed scorer off the bench, but neither is hardly reason enough to hold up on a trade that could land a player who is twice the player Aldridge is.
They would have to take a step back this season with all of their other injuries, but Portland was not going to be a threat to win the Larry O'Brien trophy this year, anyways. Such a trade puts them in position to compete for many championships once many of their core players return.
As far as the problem of re-signing Bosh this summer, remember that Paul Allen is the richest owner in the NBA. He can easily throw down the maximum six-year, $126 million extension that Bosh would be looking for this summer.
On top of that, the Blazers would give Bosh a chance to play for a first class organization with a hungry fan base that could be on the cusp of competing for championships (yeah, that was meant to be plural).
Those are concepts that, unfortunately for Bosh, have been foreign to him in seven seasons north of the border.
If you are the Raptors, you will not find a better offer out there to rebuild your team.
If you are the Blazers, it gives Pritchard a chance to show he can do more than just be a draft day wizard. It also gives him a big opportunity to wipe the egg off his face from last summer's offseason, where plans to land the aforementioned Turkoglu, Utah's Paul Millsap, and Chicago's Kirk Hinrich fell through.
If you are the rest of the league, you better keep your fingers crossed that Pritchard and the good people of Portland continue to think more with its heart than with its head.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!