The latest in completely unsubstantiated trade rumors involving the Bulls has Chris Bosh coming to Chicago in a three-team deal. The other particulars are Amare Stoudemire going to the Toronto Raptors with the Phoenix Suns getting Drew Gooden’s Expiring Contract (worth $7.2 million off the books this summer), Tyrus Thomas and a first-round draft pick (plus some other random add-ons, I would guess).
My initial reaction: Meh. I’ll believe it when I see it.
My secondary reaction to the “What if the trade actually happens?” question: Well, I’d much rather get Bosh than Stoudemire. I mean, he can totally pull of the cowboy/basketball fashion fusion (see above) and he’s a Youtube sensation. He was also a member of the National Honor Society as a high schooler, which means I could soon be the proud fan of a former honor roll student. That has serious bumper sticker potential.
There are basketball reasons for my Bosh-over-Stoudemire preference, too. First off, he’s actually focused and attentive on the defensive end. (Imagine that!) Frontcourt bruisers like Shaq can still reduce him to a Chris Bosh-shaped shooting prop, but he’s a reasonably solid rebounder, blocks the occasional shot and (most importantly) has the quickness necessary to deny penetration and/or switch out and cover guards in pick-and-roll situations. (This is a stark contract to Amare’s strategy, which is “Stand still, look confused, hope like hell they miss.”)
He can also create his own offense, usually from the left elbow in the high post area. Unfortunately, he only forces the action down low against smaller defenders — which is rare, since he’s thinnish for a frontcourt player — but his foot speed and the accuracy of his face-up jumper (which his defenders have to respect) allow him to get to the basket and either finish or draw the foul. (Bosh currently ranks 6th in the league in free throw attempts at 8.5 per game.)
Bosh is still young – he turns 25 on March 24th — which means that his best years might still lie ahead (although his numbers over the past three seasons haven’t really changed, which suggests he might have hit a plateau). I am a little concerned about his health, since he’s never logged a full 82 games and has missed at least 12 games in each of the last three seasons. (And he’s injured right now, as a matter of fact). Even more troubling is how his team has underachieved with him as The Man. The Raptors won 47 games in 2006-07 and, on paper, should have been even better in 2007-08. However, they regressed, winning only 41 games and getting eliminated 4-1 by the Orlando Magic in the first round of the playoffs. And this season they’re currently 13 games below .500, which is so disappointing that it got Sam Mitchell fired a while back and last week sparked the semi-panic trade of Jermaine O’Neal for Shawn Marion.
Of course, in Chicago, Bosh could be The Other Man beside Derrick Rose. That might take some of the pressure off and allow him to just play the game. But would he want to do that? Could he defer to a rookie point guard? It’s hard to say. But I would rate him as an upgrade over Tyrus and Drew’s Contract and definitely a better fit than Amare.