As promised, today’s column is pure basketball, triggered by trade winds.
A Lakers source told me the team had its sights set high, as usual, and planned to target the possible acquisition of Chris Bosh when it got closer to the 3 p.m. Feb. 18 trade deadline, and the Raptors might be more likely to move their Olympian/All-Star while still entitled to compensation.
It commonly is believed Bosh almost certain is to flee Toronto after this season, when he has the right to opt out of the final year ($17.1 million) of his contract.
My source believes the Lakers will offer Andrew Bynum for Bosh (if they haven’t done so already) well before the deadline expires. In itself, the one-for-one swap is impossible to make. Bynum’s “base year” essentially allows L.A. to take back but half of his salary this year ($12.5M). Of course, that restriction is lifted when next year’s salary ($13.7M) activates come July 1, at which time a sign-and-trade transaction would be feasible.
The possibility of such a deal makes sense to me. First of all, Bynum is a legit starting center for the defending champions. He also has three years left on his contract after this one.
As for the Raptors, despite the severe offseason roster renovation, they’re not giving any indication of being more than just a one-and-done playoff group this season and in the foreseeable future.
What’s Bosh’s motivation to stay? Clearly, management’s sense of urgency to protect its principal asset cannot be accentuated enough. If that’s impractical, the organization cannot afford to lose Bosh without receiving equitable compensation.
Asked by e-mail about all of the above and whether the Raptors and Lakers have discussed a Bosh-Bynum proposal, team president Bryan Colangelo, who surely is being contacted on a daily basis regarding the availability of his franchise player — especially when the team was 11-17 — he replied in kind:
“For the record, I am not actively seeking a deal or discussing Bosh with any team, much less the Lakers.
“I haven’t traded him yet and our position has been the same. We will not make a deal just to make a deal. Our intention is to keep him here long term.
“Additionally, I have not yet offered an extension as Dwyane Wade and LeBron James both received [from their respective teams]. So technically he has not said no.
“I honestly don’t think C.B. knows what the future holds, or what he wants to do, so I would say we’re still in the game as far as his pending free agency.”
In the meantime, the languishing Lakers may only have the marginal goods to obtain the likes of, say, Hornets’ forward Hilton Armstrong. Friday night they lost again (third straight road loss) to the Blazers (nine consecutive in Portland) and continue to showcase (I’m being kind) Sasha Vujacic (one year left at $5.475M) and free agents-in-waiting Jordan Farmar and Adam Morrison.
What are we to think when the Blazers are able to win minus six rotation players? Either it’s a great compliment to them or a blanket indictment on the Lakers minus Pau Gasol (hamstring).
As you recall, the Lakers were evicted from the playoffs in the first round the two previous tournaments before Gasol arrived Feb. 1, 2008. They’ve been Finalists since and last season experienced ultimate success.
Read more:BOSH FOR BYNUM?