Free Agent Stock Watch: Chris Bosh

March 6 at 9:36pm CST By Charlie Adams

Chris Bosh didn’t command as much star power as LeBron James or Dwyane Wade when the trio grouped together in the summer of 2010, but he’s played a huge part in the Heat’s three consecutive finals appearances and might have surpassed Wade as the second most productive member of the Big Three. In fact, the first installment of Hoops Rumors’ 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings has Bosh ranked as the third biggest name set to test the market this summer behind only LBJ and Carmelo Anthony. Bosh’s contract will afford him the option to remain a member of the Heat if he so chooses, but a report has indicated the big man will likely choose to exercise the early-termination option on his contract and enter free agency to seek a max deal.

After being selected fourth overall in the 2003 NBA draft, Bosh quickly made a name for himself in Toronto. The club saw him as its cornerstone to build around after Vince Carter was shipped off to the Nets in 2004, and he lived up to the expectations, to be sure. He holds the Raptors franchise records for points, rebounds, blocks, and minutes played. He helped lead the Raptors to their first division title and quickly found himself as a fan favorite north of the border. However, after seven seasons in Toronto, Bosh’s desire to win a championship led him to decide to sign in Miami so he could play with LeBron and D-Wade.

A report earlier today indicated that Bosh would like to play until he’s 36 years old, and that desire might factor into his decision to opt of his contract early. Although still a very efficient player, Bosh’s best years might be behind him. He turns 30 years old this month and is likely interested in locking up a long-term deal. If he chooses to stay in a Heat uniform with his current contract, he’ll have next season guaranteed at $20.6MM and a player option for the 2015/16 campaign worth $22.1MM. It’s tough to turn down a guaranteed $42MM, but opting out would give a team the chance to offer Bosh a four- or a five-year contract on which the big man could stand to make even more money over a longer period of time.

Waiting until his pact with the Heat is up means risking serious injury or a production drop-off, which would hurt his ability to secure a lucrative deal down the road. It’d certainly be possible for Bosh to exercise his early-termination option only to land another long-term deal with Miami. However, although the Heat could technically offer Bosh more money in free agency than any other squad since they own his Bird Rights, doing so would greatly limit their flexibility in signing other players in years to come, so they might be hesitant to do so. Bosh took a discount to play with James and Wade in Miami in 2010, and reports have indicated he won’t be interested in giving up guaranteed money this time around.

Bosh has said he’d like to remain in Miami for the remainder of his career, but we know that such statements don’t always hold true. Rumors have circulated suggesting that he’s actually the most likely of the Big Three to leave Miami this summer, due in large part to the temptation of taking on more of a leading role for another squad. The Heat haven’t utilized Bosh in the same way the Raptors did. His usage rate dropped from 28.7% during his last year in Toronto to 23.5% in his first year in Miami, and his value has often been overshadowed by the success of James and Wade. Bosh has made it known that his main priority is playing for a winning team, but it’s tough to imagine that a chance to play in a leading role isn’t one of his top wishes as well.

The Mavericks are one team said to have interest in Bosh, and a move to Dallas would make a lot of sense for the Creative Artists Agency client. Bosh was born and raised in the Lone Star State, and the Mavs will likely have the flexibility to retain Dirk Nowitzki and target another big name since we’ve heard that Nowitzki won’t be asking for an outrageous contract this summer. Bosh mostly played the four earlier in his career, but he’s recently been more of a center, and a frontcourt pairing of Dirk and Bosh would have the potential to be a headache for opposing defenses.

Nothing is written in stone, and Bosh might very well end up deciding to remain a member of the Heat for at least one more season by choosing not to exercise his early-termination option. His value isn’t the same at age 30 as it was at age 26, but he’s shooting an impressive 52.7% from the floor and a solid 36.6% from beyond the arc. With efficiency numbers just a smidgen below his career marks, Bosh will likely be able to garner a sizable level of interest from teams around the league this offseason, and he’ll be able to make his money whatever he decides to do. It’s just a question of whether he feels like staying in Miami or taking his talents elsewhere.

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