Chris Bosh is leaving the Toronto Raptors. That much was expected. However, it is the manner in which Bosh bolted Canada's only National Basketball Association team, in favour of joining Dwyane Wade with the Miami Heat, that is a surprise.
Bosh confirmed Wednesday during an interview with ESPN that he is leaving the Raptors for the Heat. During the interview, he said he might be willing to forfeit the extra $30 million US he could earn through a sign-and-trade deal in Toronto in order to help the Heat.
"I think Dwyane said it earlier: We're ready to sacrifice a lot of things in order to do that," Bosh said. "It's not about the money; it's not about anything else except for winning. I'm a winner, Dwyane's a winner, and we're going to bring winning to Miami."
Wade said he was also strongly considering going to Chicago to play with the Bulls, but Bosh's desire to play in Miami eventually convinced him to stay with the Heat.
A sign-and-trade would mean more money for Bosh. The Raptors could give him a six-year, US$125-million contract, but another team can only offer a five-year deal worth $96 million. The specifics of the deals should be known soon. As of 12:01 a.m. ET today, teams were able to officially sign free agents. Late Wednesday, it was unknown whether the Raptors would be able to work out a trade allowing Bosh the extra money in return for some assets from Miami - draft picks, a trade exception and two players, Mario Chalmers and Michael Beasley, are all the Heat have to offer - or let him go to Miami for less money and get nothing in return. The details might have to wait for Friday, after LeBron James makes his own decision tonight (see story, page C5).
What is for sure is that Bosh's seven years in Toronto are done. He is the Raptors' all-time leading scorer and rebounder, but participated in only two playoff series with the team, winning neither.
The Raptors were hoping a good performance last season would entice Bosh to stay with the franchise that drafted him fourth overall in 2003.
However, free-agent signee Hedo Turkoglu was a bust, point guard Jose Calderon regressed and centre Andrea Bargnani reached a plateau as the Raptors missed the playoffs.
In his last game as a Raptor, Bosh broke bones in his cheek and nose during a game in Cleveland. He missed the last five games of the season, as the Raptors missed the post-season by a single game.
"Thank you Toronto," Bosh wrote on Twitter after the announcement. "I wouldn't be here without you all and I will miss you. Your support and love kept me going."
Bosh also denied rumours he had cut off contact with Raptors management during free agency. Both he and Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo had said they intended to work together to ensure the best possible return for both player and team for all of last season.
"I've had contact with people in Toronto all the time. I mean, I have friends (there), I've been there for seven years," Bosh said. "It's pretty much my second home, and to leave that has been difficult, even through that whole process.
"So it wasn't just me disappearing and everything. We talked and everything, and I let them know what I was thinking all the time."
Colangelo cannot comment on free agency until today. He is expected to be meet with reporters when the Raptors hold a news conference for forward Amir Johnson, who agreed to re-sign with the Raptors last week.
Aside from possibly angering management, Bosh certainly rubbed a few fans the wrong way with his behaviour during free agency. Bosh wrote several messages on his Twitter account through the process, and pretended as if he did not know the news of his signing even after multiple outlets had reported his destination.
"I'll check the news later," he wrote a few minutes after it broke. "Sitting down for my Belgian waffles right now."
Wade said when free agency began that he would likely only stay in Miami if the Heat lured either Bosh or James to south Florida.
Now they're waiting - like the rest of the league - to see what James will do.
Regardless of whether James comes to Miami, the Heat still have only four players currently in the picture for this coming season: Wade, Bosh, Beasley and Chalmers. Miami is deeply in discussions with several free agents, including Brendan Haywood, Mike Miller, Raymond Felton and Udonis Haslem - whom Wade has played with in all seven of his previous seasons.
Quentin Richardson, Dorell Wright and Chris Quinn, all longtime Wade friends and teammates, also are high on the wish list.
Miami came into the free-agent period with about $44 million of cap space, not including $16 million or so earmarked for Wade, thanks to years of avoiding almost any deal where money would have been committed for the 2010-11 season.