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I don’t know if Chris Bosh will ever play another NBA game. None of us do. But we know he’s a free agent. And, we know teams would be very interested in even a watered down Bosh as a bench player. Even after a year off, 10-15 minutes per game of Bosh is far more valuable than the typical player available with a cap exception or minimum salary. So we’re going to pretend that at the very least, Bosh signs a contract with the team expecting him to play. Whatever happens after that is out of my control.
There are seven teams I view as sensible destinations for some reason or another. If someone comes out of left field with a big financial offer, it wouldn’t surprise me if Bosh took it ignoring other circumstances. But if the money is equal (presumably, that means a minimum salary offer), here are the teams I’d expect Bosh to consider:
7. Toronto Raptors: If the worst happens and Toronto’s free agents commit a mass exodus, the Raptors don’t exactly have a promising basketball recourse. They can’t tank with DeMar DeRozan, but his trade value is minimal. Once the free agent dust settles, how many teams would even have the cap space or matching expiring contracts to take him on? They’d have no way to add enough talent to win meaningfully either. Their best=case scenario is probably competing for the No. 8 seed.
So why not lean into that and turn this into a goodwill season? Bring back Bosh and Vince Carter. Let fans relieve the good times from literally every era in the team’s existence. Hell, José Calderón is available too. If you can’t win, at least give the fans something fun. Nostalgia is better than nothing.
When Bosh appeared on the B.S. Report in 2015, he talked about how tiring the spotlight grew when he played on LeBron’s team. It’s why he didn’t sign with the Rockets in 2014. Maybe two years have changed his perspective, but maybe they haven’t. If winning another ring isn’t Bosh’s priority then maybe the best use of this phase of his career would be rebuilding the bridges he burned in 2010.
6. Orlando Magic: Another reason Bosh re-signed with Miami in 2014? Family. He said as much in an interview with ESPN’s Tom Haberstroh. We tend not to think much about the strains an NBA career can put on family life, but if Bosh feels that the competitive portion of his career is over and that he just wants to play for love of the game, Orlando is the closest NBA team to his Miami home by far.
The drive is something like three hours without traffic. But if Bosh wanted to go the Kobe Bryant route, he could probably cut his commute with a helicopter and spend most of his time in Miami. Bosh is currently on his third max contract. He can afford it.
The Magic would welcome him with open arms. He’d sell tickets, give them a bit of credibility in their in-state rivalry with the Heat and serve as a valuable mentor for their young players. This is another low-pressure play Bosh could make. If he just wants to soak in another few years of NBA life, Orlando wouldn’t be a bad place to do it.
5. Dallas Mavericks: The logic that gets Toronto and Orlando into the conversation would have to apply for Dallas to have a shot as well. If Bosh doesn’t care about winning, the Mavericks make sense. Especially since he’s from Dallas.
ESPN’s Tim MacMahon has reported in the past that Bosh isn’t interested in going home. But that was years ago, back when his leverage and star power were significantly stronger. If it’s something he’s open to now, Dallas makes some sense from a roster perspective. The team will be so focused on Dirk Nowitzki’s retirement tour that he could fade into the background and just enjoy being on a team again.
4. and 3. Houston Rockets & San Antonio Spurs: Houston or San Antonio would serve as something of a soft homecoming: close enough to his Dallas family to see them when he wanted, far enough away not to bother him incessantly. But the Rockets and Spurs also offer something no team listed has yet: contention.
If Bosh does want to add more rings at this point in his career, both teams offer him an outside chance to do so. The Rockets would love another big man who can stretch the floor, especially one with Bosh’s defensive capabilities. If Gregg Popovich could put him on the court with Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, the switching possibilities on defense become endless.
Neither team is as close to a championship as the top two. Of course, neither of those teams keep Bosh close to home. A balance exists with Houston and San Antonio that doesn’t elsewhere. We don’t know if there’s bad blood from the 2014 negotiations that left Houston out to dry. And we don’t know how Bosh might feel about joining a Spurs team that broke up his Miami dynasty by throttling them in the 2014 Finals. But no team is better equipped to keep Bosh healthy than the Spurs. And, perhaps no team seems better set up to properly utilize him on the court than Houston.
Both would be excellent destinations.
2. Golden State Warriors: They’re the best team. The best team has a chance with any free agent they want at this salary level. If Bosh’s goal is simply to maximize his chance at winning a championship or multiple championships, the Warriors win and it isn’t close. There isn’t a more perfect center for their system on Earth, by the way. A lot of the defensive revolution Draymond Green has instigated actually began with Bosh in Miami. The two would be perfect together for the Warriors, and the shooting that duo would provide along with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant would be unguardable.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: I have no idea how close LeBron James and Chris Bosh actually are. It’s somewhat conspicuous that he isn’t a public member of the Banana Boat Gang. When LeBron left Miami for Cleveland, Bosh didn’t speak to him for months. There might be actual conflict here.
Or we might be making it up. You don’t have to be best friends to play basketball together. There’s not even convincing evidence that Bosh and James were that close even when they decided to play together in 2010. They might just be two guys with a cordial personal relationship but a great professional one.
And that’s the key here. Bosh knows how to play with LeBron James. Does he really want to learn the nuances of fitting in with the Warriors when the stakes for him are so much lower than they were for Kevin Durant? Does he want to sit around and watch James Harden hold the ball?
Bosh wouldn’t be fighting so hard to play basketball again if he didn’t actually want to play basketball again. He has made an estimated $187 million in his career and has the rest of his Miami contract coming to him even after being waived. He already has two rings and his legacy probably isn’t changing much from where it currently stands. There isn’t much left to play for beyond the love of the game and an honest desire to compete.
Playing with LeBron again just makes for the easiest transition. He knows how to do it. With so many other variables in play with his health, it makes sense to opt for stability where it might exist. And if he can win another championship while doing so? Even better.
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