In Context: The Bosh and Lebron free agencies

It is predictable that with the imminent free agencies of Chris Bosh and Lebron James, some print journalists are writing stories about 'rumours' that both will leave their current teams for more lucrative markets or a chance to win a championship. Typically, these articles ignite discussions in other mediums, primarily sports radio and Internet sites, and talks of upcoming trades gain momentum. Then reporters approach general mangers to check if the 'rumour' is true.

The catalyst for the aforementioned cycle: bad journalism.  The Bosh and Lebron situation is similar to what basketball fans witnessed when Vince Carter and Chris Webber were about to become free agents.  For example, the Bosh for Andrew Bynum trade rumour became omnipotent after a Peter Vecsey column titled "Laker deal for Raptors star has a shot." It is filled with innuendo, such as 'It is commonly believed Bosh is almost certain to flee Toronto after this season, when he has the right to opt out of the final year ($17.1 million) of his contract."

However, in the same article Vecsey acknowledges that a one-for-one is impossible because Bynum's contract is in its 'base year' and L.A. can only take back 50% of Bynum's $12.5 salary.  (For Leafs fans now understandably jumping on the Raptors bandwagon, the NBA has the 'base year compensation' rule to stop teams from circumventing the salary cap by signing their own player to a contract and then trading for another at the same or higher value in the 'base year' of their player's contract).  Furthermore, Vecsey states that he emailed Bryan Colangelo, who was unequivocal when saying he is not shopping Bosh and wanted to resign him. So why does this deal have 'a shot?'    

Now, is Vescey a credible journalist? Absolutely not.  Here is what he wrote about Vince Carter in 2001:

 In the end, mark my words, Carter is going to bolt Toronto. If he's fortunate, he'll wind up on a team that won't kowtow to exalted talent.

That summer, Vince signed a max deal with Toronto.

The New York media assumes every big-name free agent intends to sign with the Knicks.  Question- When was the last time a major free agent left their team to sign with New York? Unless you consider Clarence Weatherspoon a prominent free agent (which I am sure you don't), I cannot think of one in the past decade.   

When Chris Webber publicly complained about having to drive to Oakland to find a soul food restaurant in Northern California, there were tons of articles about how he was going to bolt Sacramento, possibly for Orlando or Gotham City.  After the end of the Lakers-Kings series in 2001, Shaq went up to Webber and whispered something in his ear and Doug Collins, who was doing color-commentary for NBC, said '"I am sure Shaq told him that he will see him in New York."  Webber, contrary to the coach's prognostication, signed a max deal with the Maloofs. 

With respects to Lebron, many websites and newspapers say he will be going to the 'Brooklyn' Nets because Jay-Z is his friend and would love to have him on the marquee when he tries to sell tickets for his new arena.  Well sure Jay-Z would love to have him, as Knick fans would; but a lot of guys would love to cut in on an Adriana Lima-Marko Jarić slow dance and tell the former Clipper scrub to screw off, but it doesn't mean it is going to happen.   

People should not confuse someone making up trades that he thinks are good for legitimate trade talks.  If that was case, every Leaf fan that calls a post-game show and suggests packaging three mediocre players and a second round draft pick for Crosby, Ovechin, or Iginla is starting a 'rumour.'   Although it may cause anxiety for many Raptor fans to hear the wannabe Nostradamus' tell you Bosh is leaving, the truth is, none of these reporters know what CB4 is going to do. Perhaps he doesn't know either.  



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