Bucher: LeBron sets July 5 deadline

Ric Bucher is on SportsCenter right now saying that LeBron James has told the teams vying for his services that he wants to have the process finished by Monday, July 5th.

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Did Chris Bosh really say that he doesn’t want to play second banana?

Ric Bucher wrote the following in the ESPN rumors section:

…since Raptors PF/C Chris Bosh made it clear over All-Star weekend that he’s not interested in leaving Toronto to be the second banana elsewhere.

Here’s what Bosh actually said, courtesy of the Toronto Sun.

“I was just looking at what people say and it’s like: ‘Chris is going to go here and play with him or this, this and that.’ I’m like: Wait a minute. I feel like I should be built around. And maybe that’s just my ego talking, but I feel that I’m a very good player in this league and I’m only going to get better. So … maybe we should be getting somebody (in Toronto).”

From the what-did-he-mean-by-that portion of the program came this little tidbit from Bosh: “Things you like and dislike change daily,” Bosh said, “(which makes it) impossible almost to not only predict the future, but predict your feelings.”

How do you leave this exchange thinking that Bosh “made it clear that he’s not interested in leaving Toronto to be the second banana elsewhere”? To me, it sounds like a guy who is angry at the media for assuming that he’s leaving Toronto this summer. He suggests that the team should be “getting somebody” in Toronto, but the Raptors aren’t going to have any cap space for the next couple of summers — they did their “getting” last summer when they signed Hedo Turkoglu.

So if the Raptors finish the season with 44 or 45 wins and bow out in the first round of the playoffs, does anyone really think that Bosh isn’t going to think long and hard about playing elsewhere? Being “built around” is fine, but as history has shown, it takes two superstars to win a NBA championship, and the Raptors only have one.

Bucher is taking Bosh’s words as gospel — that he’s not leaving Toronto to play with LeBron or Wade elsewhere — but in the very same interview Bosh admits what he likes or doesn’t like changes daily, and says it’s impossible to predict the future. I have no problem if Raptor fans find comfort in Bosh’s words, but Bucher is making that extra leap by saying that Bosh has ruled out playing somewhere else, and that’s simply not what the man said.

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Ric Bucher said something stupid today

So I’m watching SportsCenter this morning and they’re talking about all the NBA happenings, and the SC guy (I forget his name) asked Ric Bucher about the five-year, $72.5 million contract that Andrew Bogut signed.

Bucher makes a good point that it’s probably a big number for Bogut – I estimated his value at $12.0 M – $12.5 M per season – and that the other GMs around the league are likely angry at John Hammond for skewing the pay scale for big men. He mentioned restricted free agents Emeka Okafor and Andris Biedrins as two guys that will probably look at the contract that Bogut signed and think they deserve something similar.

I don’t have a problem with these points as they are completely valid (though neither Okafor or Biedrins have the polished low post game that Bogut has).

The SC guy threw out the name “Jim McIlvaine” (referring to the absurd contract that McIlvaine signed after having accomplished nothing in the league) to which Bucher chuckled, and then replied, “More like Travis Knight.”

Both Knight and McIlvaine are poster boys for overpaid big men in the NBA. McIlvaine made almost $28 million over a career in which he averaged 2.7 points and 3.1 rebounds. For his part, Knight posted 3.4 points and 3.1 rebounds while earning more than $18 million in his career.

Both players were grossly overpaid, but neither player is even in the same league talent-wise as Andrew Bogut, who averaged 9.4 points and 7.0 rebounds as a rookie, 12.3 points and 8.8 rebounds in his sophomore season and 14.3 points and 9.7 rebounds in his third season. Does he deserve a contract that averages $14.5 million a year? Probably not. But does he deserve to be compared to Jim McIlvaine and Travis Knight? Hell no.

Truth be told, the contract is about $2 million per season more than Bogut is worth, but small market teams that haven’t won recently usually have to overpay to keep their stars. Given the 16.3 points and 11.6 rebounds that Bogut averaged after the All-Star break, along with the improvement he’s made in blocking shots (from 0.5 bpg in 2006-07 to 1.7 bpg last season), as a Bucks fan I’m happy they locked him up.

Update (8/8/08): Bogut’s base deal was for five years and $60 million. Hard-to-reach incentives bring the total possible value of the contract up to $72.5 million, so the $12 million per season estimate was right on the money. (Don’t worry, I won’t break my arm patting myself on the back. I know you were worried.)

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