Raptors' Bosh Part of NBA's Latest Trend
The biggest news during a mostly drab free agency signing period came when Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James and Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade shocked the NBA world and opted to sign three-year extensions with their teams, rather than jump at the security of maximum five-year, $80 million extensions.
James and Wade were heralded for their business savvy; the two sure-things placing the pressure on their organizations to improve along with them and potentially lining up a more lucrative extension when they become free agents in four years. But while James and Wade received praise, Toronto Raptors forward Chris Bosh raised a few eyebrows when he followed their lead and signed a similar three-year deal.
"Just to keep pressure on myself and the organization because nobody can really slack off and relax," Bosh said after scoring 14 points in 26 minutes in Toronto's preseason win against Washington last night at the Verizon Center. "If I want another deal like that, I have to make sure I'm on top of my game. It won't be any point where I can say, 'I got paid. I got my deal. I can just chill.' Then, the organization, they'll work to keep me."
Following the previous collective bargaining agreement in 1999, players were quick to sign maximum extensions with their teams (Tim Duncan was the rare exception, when he signed a three-year extension in 2000, setting up this latest trend), but the deals often backfired as the players didn't make it though the life of the contract -- either because they never reached their so-called potential (Tim Thomas), produced great individual numbers but no wins (Stephon Marbury, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Steve Francis), suffered through career-ending injuries (Bryant "Big Country" Reeves), or grew fed up with the organization and forced their way out (Vince Carter, Baron Davis).
The owners pushed for shorter maximum deals in the last collective bargaining agreement in 2005, but the players only gave in a little. Now, it seems, the new wave of player doesn't want to make such a long-term commitment. But is a long-term commitment really that bad, when you are going to get paid, regardless? Isn't it better to have the money first and worry about the team that's paying you later?
It was easy to side with James and Wade because they've produced every year in the league, had success and their potential seems boundless. The 22-year-old Bosh, though extremely talented and skilled at 6-feet-11, still has much to prove. Unlike Wade, Bosh didn't have a championship ring. Unlike James, Bosh hasn't led his team to a playoff series victory, let alone been to the postseason. And he was coming off his first all-star season, having averaged 22.5 points and 9.2 rebounds for a Raptors team that won just 27 games and hadn't won more than 33 games since he joined the team.
Shouldn't Bosh have signed the maximum extension like Carmelo Anthony? Wasn't Bosh taking a more calculated risk -- not only because of injury but also because he hadn't led Toronto anywhere except the lottery? "There is nothing risky about it," Bosh said. "I believe it will work out fine. If I believe that, if the organization believes it, it's going to be all right. They see potential in me. I see potential in myself."
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