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 NBA Free Agency: Chris Bosh vs. the Triangle

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(June 14, 2014 - Source: Andy Lyons/Getty Images North America)
(June 14, 2014 – Source: Andy Lyons/Getty Images North America)

His name is so cool to say. Chris Bosh. Especially his last name. Say Bosh three times fast real quick. It sounds interesting to say the least. The same can be said of Bosh as well. He is at the absolute least, an interesting character.

Bosh grew up in the Dallas area and was always rebounding because he was such a tall boy growing up. Basketball was natural to him as was success. He took Lincoln High’s basketball team on the ride of their lives to a 40-0 perfect season and a Class 4A State Title as a senior. USA Today dubbed the team as the High School National Champions.

He was not one of the numerous athletes who try to skate by on athletic talent. Bosh worked his brain and was a member of the National Honor Society before he even sniffed the NBA. Bosh originally planned to stay four years at Georgia Tech to complete his degree, but after a standout season as a freshman, he realized he could play in the NBA so he declared for the 2003 draft.

In a loaded draft that had LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwayne Wade taken in the Top five, Bosh was picked fourth overall by the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors thought about trading him for more veteran help to assist Vince Carter, but wisely decided against it.

Bosh’s story only evolves from here. After an All-Rookie first year, Bosh, in just his second year at age 20, was forced to become the new face of Toronto after Vince Carter left. Most guys couldn’t do that. Especially in the NBA where selfishness and ego is in abundance and humility is at a premium. Luckily for Toronto, Bosh had a premium personality.

Bosh took over the reins and Toronto blossomed under him. In his third year, he became only the third Raptor to ever become an NBA All-Star. He did that five times in Toronto and since joining the Miami Heat, he’s been an All-Star four more times. He’s also won a gold medal at the Olympics, a bronze medal at the FIBA World Championship, and has a pair of championship rings on his hand.

Yet, despite all of the things that Bosh has done, there is this general idea that he’s not an elite player. I’ve heard the classic line that he’s only an All-Star because he plays in Toronto (Never understood the logic behind that one completely). He is more of a plan B option. B for Bosh.

Granted, Bosh isn’t a perennial NBA All-Anything. He was named to the NBA All-Second Team only once in his Toronto tenure. But wouldn’t the third-youngest player to achieve 1,000 rebounds and the fourth youngest to ever have a 20/20 game be valued more than that?

Bosh has become the NBA’s biggest irony for all of those people who criticize him as he is now one of the major keys to the future of the NBA’s competition structure.

Free agency is at a standstill right now. It’s like the final scene in Clint Eastwood’s spaghetti western, “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” where the three gunmen are in a triangle of death wondering who is going to draw first and who they should shoot first once it starts. No one makes a move for what feels like a millenium as the theme music by Ennio Morricone plays on and on.

Now the NBA has a triangle that’s revolving around Bosh, LeBron James, and Carmelo Anthony. His two fellow 2003 draftees. I only now realized it this morning after watching ESPN First Take.

All three players opted out of their contracts. Bosh has been the most vocal about being team-first, taking a pay cut, and then going back to the Heat to pursuing the NBA Finals for a fifth consecutive year. Teammate James is taking his sweet time just like he did four years ago when he first hit free agency.

However, Bosh is not a reckless man. He hasn’t disregarded the opportunity to check his market value. The Houston Rockets from his home state are determined to come away with a third superstar to add to Dwight Howard and James Harden. An offer has been made and it is a max offer of four years and $88 million.

That’s a lot of cash right there even after taxes. Bosh has acted quirky at times, but he isn’t crazy. This offer is definitely being considered especially when you factor in the talent level of the Rockets and even the appeal of returning to Texas may play a role in his decision. Guys sometimes are sentimental about where they grew up.

LeBron James is facing the same situation.  He’s being courted by Cleveland to come home and by everyone else who his agent will let give a pitch. He’s in a better situation than Bosh because he is the best player in the game (no offense to Kevin Durant) and he can make virtually any team a contender. No one playing today can say that about their talent level.

The third point in the triangle is Carmelo Anthony and here is where I realized something this morning. There was a rumor right about two weeks ago that entertained the thought of the Big Three of Miami getting Anthony to join and make them a Big Four. Heat President/NBA legend Pat Riley and every analyst who understands the luxury tax called the idea ludicrous. No way could they get all four guys to take that much of a pay cut and still have enough to build a bench.

But what if Miami doesn’t really want to make a Big Four, but rather just make Anthony part of the Big Three instead? What if Miami is actually hoping that Bosh takes the deal with Houston? With Bosh off the books, the Heat could definitely make a pitch that strings in Anthony as well as James. Of course Dwayne Wade’s basically a lock to return due to his stature, his longevity, and the fact that he’s showing signs of deteriorating, so GMs aren’t going to be climbing over each other to get him.

The consensus is Anthony is the better player between him and Bosh. Anthony was definitely the better scorer last year(27.4 ppg to Bosh’s 16.2). Stephen A. Smith on First Take even said the original idea of the Big Three focused around Wade, James and Anthony. Anthony however was with the Nuggets and wasn’t able to be attained, so the replacement became Bosh. He was their plan B and just might be again.

Now, Miami isn’t going to come and just say, “Go away!” to Bosh. That’s burning a bridge and Pat Riley isn’t that rude, classless, or obtuse. He knows that if James or Anthony decide to not sign, then he will want to re-sign Bosh. Riley’s got to be thinking about getting two out of three of the superstars on the market. If Riley can get two of the triangle’s three points, then the Big Three era of Miami doesn’t die at four years, it may only change components. It’s a giant risk that can backfire on Riley because if any one of the three men takes a deal elsewhere, he’s got to grab the other two without fail and Anthony is by no means a lock for Miami either.

He has gone on record saying he loves his home of New York where his two sons live. He was raised there and is a legendary player for Syracuse University. Phil Jackson is there as the team’s architect and why not believe in that NBA legend? Anthony could easily stay in the Big Apple or go to Chicago (amazing fit there), Houston, Dallas, either LA team; anywhere that can use a potent scorer.

Just like in “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” someone is going to have to make a move and when that move happens, expect everyone else to start moving. The question is who is going to make the first move. Most parties would prefer it be James.

But Bosh has a giant card to play because he’s the only one who has a formal offer from a team that we know about. Bosh may have to realize that despite all that he’s accomplished, he just might be looked at the same way by the Heat the way that a lot of fans view him. As a plan B option.

Cue the Ennio Morricone theme music, sit back and watch closely. Because like Bosh, this is going to be interesting.

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at robert.cobb@theinscribermag.com

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