Lots of talk about Bosh

An unprecedented amount of trade gossip has already surfaced, which includes Chris Bosh's name....

An unprecedented amount of trade gossip has already surfaced, which includes Chris Bosh's name. (QMI Agency/Stan Behal)

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 10:32 AM ET

The NBA's mid-season is on the horizon, but the silly season finds itself in full bloom.

In the world of back-door cuts and cross-over dribbles, the silly season is often referred to as the days and weeks leading up to the league's annual trade deadline, a time of unfiltered talk and unsubstantiated rumours that somehow morph into legitimacy.

In a cap world dotted with base-year compensation, making trades is no small feat, but the slight oversight blinds even the most respected chroniclers of all things related to the hardwood.

GRAPEVINE BUZZING

As Big Al Jefferson so succinctly put it when the hoops grapevine was buzzing of a deal that would send Minnesota's power forward to Indiana in return for small forward Danny Granger: "I laugh at rumours. That's why they're rumours.

"When you see stuff like that coming on TV and coming up out of the woodwork, that's why it's in one ear and out the other.

"I've been in this league long enough to know you're going to hear rumours about trades and stuff before the trade deadline."

This year's trade deadline arrives precisely at 3 p.m. on Feb. 18, exactly five weeks from tomorrow.

Who will be moved for whom and which teams will emerge as buyers or sellers are mysteries no one can answer with certainty.

As the much-ballyhooed summer of 2010 inches closer, there's going to be all kinds of speculation involving virtually every single player whose contract comes off the books.

The free-agent class, at least potentially, is so unprecedented in basketball's history that an unprecedented amount of gossip has already surfaced.

Names such as Tracy McGrady, Carlos Boozer, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, to name but a few, have been bandied about.

Chris Bosh's name has been thrown into the mix.

Unless GM Bryan Colangelo gets completely blown away, or completely loses his mind, the only scenario, on the surface anyway, that would see the Raptors moving their career-leading scorer is if the team collapses in the manner that unfolded in Indy on Monday.

Looking at Toronto's schedule leading up to the deadline, it seems highly doubtful.

Beginning with Friday's road game against the New York Knicks, the Raptors will play 14 times before the trade deadline kicks in.

For a team that has feasted on lesser lights, save for Monday's meltdown in the second half against the Pacers, the Raptors will play only three teams that sport winning records heading into last night's play.

During that stretch, the Raptors have three sets of back-to-backs.

Given their favourable schedule and in light of Miami's daunting slate, it's very likely the Raptors will hold the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference, setting up the potential of an opening-round playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks.

What has become abundantly clear with the Raptors is their need for an explosive wing.

DeMar DeRozan hasn't hurt the Raptors in his rookie season, but he hasn't exactly imposed his will either.

In reality, one can't possibly expect a teenager one year removed from university to make the kind of impact that changes games or wins games.

It's simply unfair for a kid whose game wasn't NBA ready when he left USC.

Assuming Hedo Turkoglu rediscovers the game that made him a near all-star in Orlando, there's no reason why the Raptors can't separate themselves from the likes of a Miami and Charlotte in the coming weeks.

There's also a sense in Raptorland that Reggie Evans is close to finally making his regular-season debut.

COMMITMENT

When the trade deadline nears, what must happen is a commitment from ownership to give Colangelo the green light to exceed the luxury tax.

It has been proven over and over again in the NBA that the best way to win is to spend -- wisely.

If Colangelo can somehow get his hands on a shooting guard who can break defences down and defend, the Raptors will get out of the first round.

That's the only way to make all those Bosh rumours disappear.

FRANK.ZICARELLI@SUNMEDIA.CA


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