Intrigue continues to swirl around Bosh
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At least it looks now like the Bulls may get a chance at a play in game of sorts in Toronto this Sunday with that stunning finish Sunday night when the Raptors came back from 16 down in the last seven minutes to be down three with three seconds left. Chris Bosh, with 42 and averaging 31.5 and 11.5 the last four, elected to make both free throws. Then, inexplicably, though not necessarily for a Warriors team, they threw the ball away right under the basket and Bosh missed a point blank layup that would have won it.
So the Bulls pull within one of Toronto with the Raptors still the favorite with the tiebreaker. The Bulls face the Bucks, Cavs and Nets before then and the Raptors play the Cavs, Celtics and Hawks.
The intrigue continues to swirl around Bosh, who generally is considered the top free agent to leave his team with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade expected to remain given how their teams have played, coupled with James contending for a title and the Heat being one of the league's hottest teams.
Although this has been speculated before, one of the more potential interesting wrinkles is what happens with the Lakers.
They lost again Sunday, their fourth in the last six. The Cavs already have pretty much locked up Finals home court if they get there and the Magic could pass the Lakers as well. The Lakers seem safe on top of the West, but their bench has been exposed and though he had a big game Sunday with 32 points, questions again have been raised about Pau Gasol as he had just seven rebounds. He's being called soft again in L.A. and when Phil Jackson was told Gasol said he was "very, very tough," Jackson quipped that was too many verys.
Gasol for Bosh in a sign-and-trade?
Of course, not if the Lakers win. But what little is talked about with free agents is the sign and trade. There is a huge difference for players leaving without a sign and trade and Toronto is said to be willing to dare Bosh: Go ahead and take $30 million less.
Most believe Bosh is headed to Miami to join Dwyane Wade, though insiders say Miami and Wade prefer Amar'e Stoudemire, who also is highly likely to leave. Toronto has no interest in any sign and trade with Miami and no interest in Michael Beasley.
Some who know Bosh say he doesn't see himself, anyway, as a supporting guy like everyone else does and would prefer to go to New York with someone like Marcus Camby to play center and rebound for him and someone like Gallinari to spread the court. Though the Raptors also are said to have little interest in David Lee in a sign and trade given Lee cannot play center and Toronto needs a center to complement Andrea Bargnani, whom they believe they can build with.
So Pau or Andrew Bynum?
Yes, the Lakers have two centers and part of their problem now is one, Bynum, is hurt again. He gets hurt a lot, which is a concern. Though he is a low post center.
But if the Lakers were to be knocked out, you'd think they'd look for a major move, and Bosh could be that true bigtime second scoring option with Kobe.
And who more would want someone like Gasol than the Raptors, who have the European version of the NBA with Bargnani, Hedo Turkoglu, Marco Belinelli, Rasho Nesterovic and Spanish teammate Jose Calderon? And wouldn't the Raptors if they lose Bosh-and he could choose the money and "Man" status and stay, of course-prefer him in the Western Conference? And a player who fits their team and they can build with? They might even be better.
So if you were the Bulls would you do a sign and trade for Bosh with Joakim Noah. That's another player the Raptors are said to be interested in because he plays center. The Raptors believe they have to have a center if Bosh leaves because neither Bargnani or Turkoglu can play inside. Would it be worth Bosh to the Bulls to give up Noah? They'll likely be asked.
-- Nice commitment to your team. It's why you just can't trust Carlos Boozer. He showed up when the Jazz played the Knicks last week—and everyone knows the Knicks beat writers are interviewing every free agent about New York for a year now—wearing a New York Yankees baseball cap and noting, "I'm a Yankees fan." And how about this with the Jazz fighting for playoff position about Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni: "I love D'Antoni, he's the dope. Spending time with him in the Olympics, his offensive mindset is unbelievable. He's got the best plays I've ever been around—on a whim. It's like rappers when they come out on the top of the dome with quotes. He's got plays in the back of his head with plays for that moment." And it's Jerry Sloan's plays that have made him a 20-point scorer and Olympian. Boozer also called the Knicks "an incredible organization." Excuse me. Oh, the organization that hasn't won a playoff game since 2001 and has had six coaches since? The Knicks, by the way, owe their lottery unprotected No. 1 this season to the Jazz. Boozer recently talked about staying with the Jazz, but he clearly is keeping his options open and why you'd better be careful committing a lot of money to him. Oh, and earlier when the Jazz was in Washington Boozer said that is a great city and organization and with all that cap money they'll definitely get a top free agent. The Jazz should just cut him now. … It's somewhat sad watching the emotional meltdown of Tracy McGrady, who last week decided he might return to Orlando, where he quit on the team and demanded to be traded because he didn't want to lower himself to play with Dwight Howard, and declared he'll be a superstar again. It is hard to accept it's the end for any great athlete. Look, Michael Jordan couldn't, either. But a career of serious injuries, not rehabbing or working very hard has caught up with him. … The Celtics held on and didn't give up that 22-point lead to the Cavs Sunday, but no one is scared anymore. In the last 14 games, with half giving up more than 100, opponents are averaging 101.3 per game against the Celts once vaunted defense. "They'd punk you before," said one coach. "They can't do it anymore because they can't stop you anymore." The Celts also have shrunk their defense to protect Kevin Garnett, who cannot get out and pressure any longer.
-- How bad has the free agency gone in Detroit? Charlie Villanueva complained about being benched against Miami last week after he was pulled in the game against the Bulls for admiring a pair of Hakim Warrick drives. So reinstated in the lineup, Villanueva responded with 6 for 22 shooting in the next two games. And poor BG7 was 0 for 7 and scoreless in 22 minutes Saturday in a loss to the Hawks as Jamal Crawford had 29 off the bench with Joe Johnson out hurt. Crawford, the leader for Sixth Man, would be back starting if Johnson leaves as a free agent. But Johnson is said to be committed to only leaving with a sign and trade, which Atlanta would have to agree to. It was Gordon's third zero point game in the last 33 with 19 of those in single digits. It's still hard for us to believe. … Doc Rivers' son, Austin, is considered perhaps the top prep shooting guard in the country and is considering Duke, North Carolina and Florida. … In tea leaves reading, there was a big one last week as LeBron James said on NBA-TV: "I got a goal, and it's a huge goal, and that's to bring an NBA championship here to Cleveland. And I won't stop until I get it." So I guess in Cleveland you'd hope he doesn't win this season because then he could leave. Or if he doesn't then maybe he'd want to. OK, forget it. That one didn't mean anything, either….The Bucks just can't get a break with this wonderful run going and now losing Andrew Bogut, a Most Improved candidate, for the season in Saturday's convincing win over the Suns. There may not be an unluckier franchise with previous devastating injuries to Michael Redd. I thought Stoudemire could have backed off him, but I didn't think he intended to hurt Bogut. The Bucks will make the playoffs, but suddenly aren't the upset threat they were as all four top seeds should have little trouble advancing. … The Magic may have provided a roadmap to their own defeat the way Dwight Howard melted down against the Spurs' hacking tactics last week. Howard went two of 11 at the line, was yelling at and threatening the Spurs coaches and got into a dispute with fans behind the bench. If that's all it takes to distract him, the Magic is done. Plus, every team will be trying that tactic as distasteful as it is to basketball given the Magic shoot so many threes and their game is best in transition. As the fan whom Howard got into it with said, "Better practice your free throw shooting."
-- How great has Manu Ginobili been? That's five of six for the Spurs with Sunday's win in Los Angeles over the Lakers. Ginobili is averaging about 23 since the All Star break and in this run had 32 to beat the Lakers, 43 over the Magic, 28 over Boston and 30 over Cleveland. The Spurs lost in New Jersey when Ginobili took a game off with "back spasms," and all this with Tony Parker out. Ginobili is a free agent this summer and likely will return to the Spurs, who would have to pay luxury tax again and have always been reluctant to do so in their market. "He's basically taken over the team," said coach Gregg Popovich. Ginobili also said he is keeping his options open, but will be 33 this summer and has had injuries. Said Ginobili: "I know I'm going to get a job. It doesn't matter where or how. I'm not going to be unemployed." The bottom teams in the West aren't going to be easy with the Spurs seventh for now. … The Mavs became the fourth NBA franchise after the 80's Lakers, 60's Celtics and 2000's Spurs to win at least 50 games 10 consecutive seasons. Impressive, though they are the only one without a title. Said Dirk Nowitzki to the Dallas News: "I'm glad I was able to be part of the last decade. We had a lot of fun and won a lot of games, but like I've said, I'd trade them all for one championship, but I can't do that. I think we got a good shot at it this year, so hopefully we can give it a good run." Everyone assumes Nowitzki will stay with the Mavs, but with a playoff disaster-and the Mavs have had many-would he opt out this summer to try to get that title somewhere else? After all, Jason Kidd is going on 38 next season and Shawn Marion will be 32. Maybe take a shot with a younger, more athletic group? He's got the money and individual awards. Plus Brendan Haywood is a free agent and bristled about being benched last week...Nice and appropriate rant by Popovich when the Spurs were in Boston with all the Boston talk about their world championships. Said Popovich to the Boston Herald: "There are no world champions in the NBA, so anybody that has the flag up that says world champions is not correct. It's not appropriate. The world champions, I believe, are the Spanish team right now. USA is the Olympic champion. The Lakers are the NBA champion. It doesn't make sense for an NBA team to call themselves world champions. I don't remember anybody playing anybody outside our borders to get that tag. Isn't that true? I keep waiting for somebody to tell me I've missed something. The world's bigger than North America. I know sometimes we as arrogant Americans don't respond to the rest of the world, but it's true. There's a big world out there. I'm not trying to be an (expletive). Why can't we just be NBA champions? That's what we are. We're NBA champions. That's not good enough? I think that's pretty cool. I think that's pretty good to be an NBA champion. That's hard to do."
-- Antoine Walker was released by his team in Puerto Rico and I've heard he could go to China. … The Bobcats are said to prefer tendering Tyrus Thomas to retain him for about $6 million. But because owner Michael Jordan said he won't pay the luxury tax now, the talk is they won't re-sign point guard Raymond Felton with D.J. Augustin in the wings. Felton might draw interest from a team with cap money like the Knicks. … Impressive season for Portland making the playoffs losing both their centers and more than 300 player games this season, about the same as the Warriors. So Don Nelson tied Lenny Wilkens alltime win record. It was a shocking finish as the Warriors almost blew a 16-point lead in the last seven minutes with Stephen Curry late gagging up a pair of free throws to help give the Raptors a chance. That's the flaw in the Rookie of the Year award. Guys like Curry play all season with nothing on the line and no pressure, so they don't' deal well when they have to do something like with Nelson's record on the line. It's why though he's not quite the talent you have to seriously consider what Brandon Jennings has done playing in playoff situations for the last two months. … It looks like Tim Floyd again beat it out of town ahead of the posse. Floyd signed on with Texas-El Paso as the Hornets went into quit mode losing to the Nets and to the Wizards to break their 16-game losing streak. The Nets Saturday outscored then 40-11 on fast break points. The Nets also had season highs in shooting, inside points and assists. And this is with Chris Paul back. Really, how could they not be looking to trade him or him not be quietly asking to be traded? Remember, this is the team that closed last season losing by 58 at home in the first round and then by 21 in the closeout. … Several Trailblazers are attributing a turnaround to a players only meeting called in February by Juwan Howard when the team was teetering with all the injuries. Howard wants to play another season and he'd be a terrific veteran in the P.J. Brown/Antonio Davis mold for the Bulls to pick up for likely a veteran minimum this summer and have the Chicago native finish his career at home.
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