It has been written here, on this blog, several times over the past week or so and this morning it is closer to becoming fact than just an educated speculation. Of course, this is referring to the race for the eighth seed in the Eastern conference and the position being taken that the Chicago Bulls will take that playoff spot from the Toronto Raptors. This is due to no particular fault in their play, which was the original basis behind the decision to not include the team in the playoff picture. (Their play has been rather poor of late though.) Rather it is because of the serious blows to the face (literally) that the team has suffered.
During the Raptors’ recent game with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Chris Bosh, the Raptors’ All-Star, inadvertently took and elbow to the face from Antawn Jamison. With Bosh out of the game the Cavaliers pulled away and won easily. In a heated playoff race this is the last thing the Raptors and their fans want to see. An injury to a star player is always devastating to a franchise but it is only magnified this late in the season with so much at stake. Bosh was immediately taken to a local Cleveland hospital to undergo tests and scans. These revealed that he suffered a maxilla and displaced nasal fracture to the right side of his face for which he had surgery for the following morning (Wednesday). Since that surgery two things have happened: the Raptors lost to Boston Celtics and the team shut down Chris Bosh for the rest of the regular season for recovery.
Shutting down Bosh is right move for the team because having him out there certainly increases the chances he may reinjure himself which would perhaps lead more a serious injury. This would not help the team and it is certainly would not help Bosh’s future health or his career. However, it is likely that full recovery will take much longer than just the end of the regular season on 14 April. So what does this mean for the Raptors and for Chris Bosh himself? Both are currently intertwined and are generally seen as one in the same but that will no longer be the case. When Chicago moves into position to overtake the Raptors (11 April, this Sunday, they face each other), which they will, everything that Toronto and Jerry Colangelo have attempted to create and build around will cease to exist. Chicago, by making the playoffs, will be the catalyst that propels the league into the feeding frenzy that this summer’s free agency will be. Chris Bosh has played his last game as a Toronto Raptor.
Bosh’s departure will be the greatest indictment of the way in which Colangelo has structured the team. Toronto is not Phoenix nor is it USA Basketball. Colangelo has done a remarkable job with Team USA. (Except for pissing off LeBron James. “Hey, Jerry, shut your mouth! He is the best player in the world.”) With the talent pool that he has to draw from that should not be that hard. In all reality, Coach K probably tells him to look over the FIBA rules book for anything new and to stay out of his way. Easy gig. So what has Colangelo done in Toronto? In Toronto he crafted an experiment around Bosh. He surrounded him with largely foreign jump shooters to stretch the floor so that Bosh’s natural post abilities could shine. The name Andrea Bargnani is synonymous with Colangelo’s grand scheme. This experiment never panned out into anything that could be considered successful. In short: it failed. Colangelo should have gone after a traditional center to bolster the frontcourt of the Raptors so that opposing guards could not set up camp in the Raptors’ paint with every player but Bosh set up on the wing. He did not and instead brought in point forward Hedu Turkoglu (who sustained a nasal fracture, just like Bosh did in Cleveland, in last night’s game against the Celtics). As previously written about in a post, this has worked out well below par.
Chris Bosh has donned a Toronto Raptors jersey for the last time in his career. Simply add his name to the list of good players that have played in Canada only to see the team fail them in most every way. Bosh will surely be courted by many of the teams that have freed up exorbitant amounts of cap space in anticipation for this summer’s free agent pool. The Knickerbockers will surely come calling. However, in an interesting twist, it may be that Chicago, the team predicted here to oust the Raptors from the eighth seed, who lands Bosh. The summer holds some interesting possibilities, to go along with wild bets and speculations, that will play out in due course. Toronto has much to consider going into the offseason. It must reevaluate the goals, team structure, and players that it needs to contend in the East. Personnel issues have been festering under the surface for years especially with the team loaded with mediocrity. The Raptors’ future is uncertain, what is certain, however, is that Chris Bosh will not be part of it.