Raptors Ready To Turn The Page With Bosh's Departure

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Mike Ulmer -- Raptors.com
July 7, 2010

"I'm joining Mr. Wade in Miami."

With those words, spoken via an ESPN news conference, Chris Bosh ended his seven-season run with the Toronto Raptors.

What remains in doubt is who, if anyone, the Heat send back to the Raps should Bosh's old team work out a sign-and-trade deal with his new one.

And while it has slipped down to the category of a long shot, many are wondering whether LeBron James will choose South Florida when he announces his future at another ESPN news conference on Thursday night.

That move would reunite three spectacular members of the US Olympic team and threatens to pare down the number of favorites for the NBA title to one.

Many fans surrendered any notion of Bosh returning months ago. If he knew the relish he took in being courted translated into agony for the people here watching him go, he never acknowledged it. With each bit of evasion, with each goofy tweet, he made a legitimate business decision as much fun for bystanders as the Stations of the Cross.

Don't underestimate the possibility of an 11th hour deal that would get the Raptors some material in return. By signing the maximum with the Raptors and then acquiescing to a trade, Bosh would boost the contract term to six years from five and raise his salary from $96 million US to $125 million.

All that is a muddle of conjecture right now and it may not be sorted out until James, in a move that fits his status as bigger than all entertainment, preempts the world Thursday night.

What is certain is that Bosh is gone and that it has happened before.

The Raptors' future has endured the forced trade of Damon Stoudamire, the free agent departure of Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter's clumsily orchestrated trade demand, Antonio Davis' desire to go elsewhere and now, Bosh.

But Stoudamire was the darling in a fledgling market and McGrady was just another promising, athletically blessed kid. Carter, perhaps the most prodigiously skilled athlete in the history of any Toronto franchise, tanked to get a deal.

Bosh never did. He showed up this season in the best shape of his life and acted the part of the pillar, albeit for a 40-win, 42-loss seasons.

His departure has triggered complaints about his tweeting and his inability to put together a thank you to the city, the country or the franchise that made him spectacularly wealthy and famous over those seven seasons. Bosh nonetheless leaves as the Raps' leader in virtually every statistical category including all-time minutes, points, rebounds and successful free throws. After averaging 24 points and 10.8 rebounds last season, Bosh's career stats show an average of 20.2 points per game and a nightly haul of 9.4 rebounds.

Still, the firmaments seem undisturbed and from what I am told, there will be a Raptors season this season. At the entry draft, they landed a promising hard-nosed power forward in Ed Davis and an intimidating shotblocker in Solomon Alabi.

More moves may be coming including moving Hedo Turkoglu and figuring out the point guard situation. The Raptors will be looking to upgrade through their mid-level exception. More work is needed to get a line on the guard combo of Jarrett Jack and Jose Calderon.

Here's what we do know. Chris Bosh is a very good player. He is gone. There have been others. All were replaced, or at least the succession from franchise player to franchise player continued unimpeded.

The Raptors won 40 games with Bosh last year, 33 the year before. He is either the team's lost savior or a piano player on the Titanic. Starting now, we get to find out.