Friday , Aug , 07 , 2009 Oly Sandor

Is it time for the Toronto Raptors to trade Chris Bosh?

Following a disappointing 2008-09 season, Toronto’s GM and president promised changes. The two-time Executive of the Year wanted to inject toughness, depth, and athleticism into a line-up that was often bullied and outworked. Kris Humphries, Nathan Jawai, Jason Kapono, Shawn Marion, and Anthony Parker were traded or not retained, while Marco Belinelli, Demar DeRozan, Reggie Evans, Jarret Jack, Hedo Turkoglu, and Antoine Wright were acquired …

Is it time for the Toronto Raptors to trade Chris Bosh?Nobody can say Bryan Colangelo doesn’t keep his word.

Following a disappointing 2008-09 season, Toronto’s GM and president promised changes. The two-time Executive of the Year wanted to inject toughness, depth, and athleticism into a line-up that was often bullied and outworked.

Kris Humphries, Nathan Jawai, Jason Kapono, Shawn Marion, and Anthony Parker were traded or not retained, while Marco Belinelli, Demar DeRozan, Reggie Evans, Jarret Jack, Hedo Turkoglu, and Antoine Wright were acquired.

These changes will produce the desired effect; the Raptors are much improved. One key question remains unanswered: what about Chris Bosh?

Of course, the All-Star holds an option on his contract and can become an unrestricted free agent next summer. And Bosh has publicly stated he will exercise this clause and test the open market.

This leaves Toronto exposed. They could lose their top player for nothing. Worst of all, Bosh would be the latest American star to leave the Canadian club at the alter. Colangelo and the Raptors better realize now is the time to trade their four-man.

The new faces won’t miss a teammate they never had. Without Bosh, Turkoglu becomes the first option and a fresh chemistry can develop. Jack, who signed with Toronto partly because of his friendship with Bosh, could get upset about a move, but he has 20 million reasons to get over it.

A familiar face will play the greatest role in any trade. Andrea Bargnani, like Bosh, is a natural power forward. Minutes weren’t an issue when the Italian was struggling, but last year he found his groove filling in for and then replacing Jermaine O’Neal at centre.

Bargnani’s growth wasn’t unnoticed by the organization, who over the summer rewarded him with a five-year, $50 million extension. Remember, Colangelo picked the sharp-shooting big first overall, so he’ll give the poster boy for his Euro experiment every opportunity to succeed.

The extension chatter will become a distraction. Contrary to what some think, Toronto is a basketball mad market with an intense media. Fans and journalists will rightfully carve, question, and interrogate Bosh about his future. Colangelo should consider cutting a deal before it becomes a full blown circus and compromises the year.

Credit the Raptors for making changes. But in Bosh, their greatest and most significant challenge remains unsolved.

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