Bosh expected to sign three-year deal with Raptors
Bosh, according to NBA front-office sources, has elected to sign a three-year deal extension with the Raptors worth an estimated $40 million plus, with a player option in the summer of 2010 to take the deal into a fourth season and hike the value of the contract into the $60 million range.
The 22-year-old, who has repeatedly stated his intention to stay with the league's only Canadian franchise, thus has the next four seasons -- including the final season of his original rookie-scale contract at $4.2 million -- to decide if he likes the Raptors' future enough to make a longer commitment.
Bosh is expected to soon travel to Toronto, sources said, with a press conference expected by week's end.
Bosh, James, Wade and Carmelo Anthony were eligible to sign five-year extensions this summer worth an estimated $80 million, with the exact value to be computed in July 2007 when the salary cap for the 2007-08 season is established.
James was the first of the Fab Four from the top of the 2003 draft to tell his team that he was choosing the three-year plan instead. James signed the deal with his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday.
Wade also signed his extension Wednesday with the Miami Heat. The three-year deal with a player option for Year 4 means Wade will have the opportunity to re-enter the free-agent market in the same summer that Shaquille O'Neal's five-year, $100 million contract expires.
Anthony weighed the possibility of a shorter extension but preferred the security of a five-year deal with the Denver Nuggets for the full $80 million. Yet the mere threat of following the same course as James, Wade and Bosh got Anthony something else he wanted from the Nuggets -- an opt-out clause after Year 4 that will enable him to become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2011.
Although Bosh, Wade and James are leaving some guaranteed money on the table now, there are potential financial benefits to the three-year arrangement as well. One of them is re-entering the free-agent market after the 2009-10 season, which will enable those three to negotiate their next contracts under the terms of the league's current collective bargaining agreement.
It's an appealing option given some industry fears that contract values won't necessarily be so favorable in the next labor agreement. The current pact between the league and its players expires in 2011, but the NBA has a one-year option to extend it through the 2011-12 season.
Wade told Miami reporters in a Wednesday conference call that a three-year deal with a player option in Year 4 has intrigued him from the start of free-agent negotiations. He bristled at the notion that he and Bosh were merely following James' lead.
"We're getting a lot of crap about it because we're young guys, [but] we made decisions for ourselves and we didn't follow the path of everybody else," Wade said. "Everyone is thinking somehow LeBron made everybody do this. With LeBron and Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh, we all make our own decisions. Of course, we all talk because we're friends. But no one makes a decision for another person."
Truth be told, this three-year concept was actually hatched seven years ago by Tim Duncan, not James. In the summer of 2000, Duncan flirted with a lucrative free-agent offer from Orlando before ultimately signing a three-year extension to stay with San Antonio. The Spurs' franchise power forward decided to sacrifice some long-term security to see how the club's future would develop, with David Robinson only under contract through 2001.
Robinson ultimately played through the 2002-03 season and went out as a champion after the Spurs beat New Jersey in the 2003 NBA Finals. Duncan, who by then could claim Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili as teammates, went on to sign a seven-year deal in the summer of 2003 worth in excess of $120 million to stay with the Spurs.
Wade insisted Wednesday that he's planning to follow Duncan's example as opposed to staying with the Heat only as long as O'Neal does.
"I'm looking forward to when I retire, still being a Heat," Wade said during the conference call. "This is not me looking to get out of Miami. There's no reason for me to look to get out of Miami. I'm a Heat and I'm going to continue to be a Heat as long as they want me. ...
"After this deal is up," Wade said, "I'm looking forward to signing back with the Heat again.''
Bosh is the centerpiece of a diverse makeover commissioned by new Raptors president Bryan Colangelo. Among Bosh's new teammates are longtime friend T.J. Ford -- Toronto's new point guard after a trade with Milwaukee for Charlie Villanueva -- and Italian forward Andrea Bargnani, who was selected No. 1 overall in last month's draft. The Raptors are also expected to sign Maccabi Tel-Aviv swingman Anthony Parker to a three-year deal worth more than $12 million by week's end and eventually add another of Europe's best combo forwards: Spain's Jorge Garbajosa.
Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here.