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Art Garcia

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The Raptors can offer Chris Bosh a max contract of six years and $130 million.
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Bosh wanting to be 'the man' in free agency


Posted Jun 20 2010 11:25AM

Chris Bosh isn't waiting for some summit to determine his landing spot next season. The soon-to-be Toronto Raptors free agent is determined to chart his own course and forge his own identity apart from the star-studded field of peers also entering the open market.

"I don't want to be mentioned as an addition to a team," Bosh said prior to the season [video below]. "I want to be mentioned as the guy that people want to center their team around."

Bosh hasn't changed that stance, adding recently that he's making his decision separate from LeBron James or anyone else. Bosh is frequently mentioned as the bronze medal in the Free Agency Olympics headlined by LeBron and Dwyane Wade. Bidders can do a lot worse than bronze. While the pairing of Bosh with one of his former Team USA teammates could form the foundation of a title contender, the 26-year-old power forward could just as easily strike out on his own.

Bosh's independent streak is a significant variable in a marketplace that so many assume will be dictated by LeBron. Bosh could be the first domino to fall if he decides to leave Toronto when free agency begins July 1, causing a ripple effect among the teams with significant cap space and those angling for a premier free agent through a sign-and-trade.

Unlike the situation facing James in Cleveland, Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo acknowledged that he would be agreeable to a sign-and-trade if a new deal isn't worked out with Bosh. Toronto's first priority is to re-sign its five-time All-Star and career scoring leader. The Raptors can offer a max contract of six years and $130 million.

There's no inkling that such a sign-and-trade agreement exists between James and the Cavaliers, a franchise currently without a coach and with a new general manager. Bosh's willingness to negotiate with several of the nine teams that have significant cap space (more than $14 million) and those putting together attractive sign-and-trade packages could create a feeding frenzy more dynamic than what LeBron is heading into.

The list of realistic suitors for LeBron appears to be more exclusive, led by Cleveland, Chicago and New York, with several long shots such as New Jersey, Dallas and the Los Angeles Clippers possibly in the mix. While those squads focus their energy on James and most assume Wade is staying in Miami, the rest of the league looking to upgrade could zero in on Bosh as its most practical superstar alternative.

As long as Bosh settles on at least two teams as a possible destination for next season, the bidding war can begin. The more teams, the more heated it becomes. That would benefit Colangelo in his hunt for the best possible package -- players, draft picks and/or cap space -- should Bosh split town.

Bosh is keeping his options open. Reports have surfaced of a list of teams, ranging from five to much more, that Bosh would be amenable to in a sign-and-trade. His agent, Henry Thomas, has shot down the existence of such a list coming from the Bosh camp, adding that his client is evaluating his choices. Thomas and Bosh have also said that a "free agent summit" isn't on the horizon.

"I haven't closed the door on anything," Thomas told the South Florida Sun Sentinel. "I haven't given Bryan any lists. There is no list. This is a process that is ongoing."

Several league insiders believe Bosh will eventually land in Miami to team up with Wade. He could also join Derrick Rose with the Bulls or pair up with LeBron. The two-time champion Los Angeles Lakers and the Houston Rockets are reportedly among the sign-and-trade hopefuls.

Or Bosh could choose his own way.

"I'm not an addition. I'm a centerpiece," he said. "I have to have that confidence in myself, and I want people to know that, because I'm not somebody that helps out. I'm the guy you get like, 'Yo, we're going to win a championship, you're gonna take us there.'

"I want to hold onto that because I think every kid when they dream about playing basketball, they don't dream about being a role player. They dream about being the man. I have that position in Toronto and to give that up and go somewhere else to be an addition would kinda defeat the purpose of my dreams."

Art Garcia has covered the NBA since 1999. You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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