The Toronto Raptors are going to make a last-ditch effort to re-sign franchise forward Chris Bosh with a pitch that includes not only a maximum contract offer, but also a promise that the club is willing to spend considerable luxury-tax dollars for the first time in an attempt to compete with the top teams in the Eastern Conference.
"I fully embrace the notion and still fully intend to talk about him staying a Raptor," Raptors president Bryan Colangelo said Monday while going over the entrails of a second straight playoff-less season, "and the things that might happen with this team should he stay, the success we could have here and why Toronto is the right place for Chris Bosh."
Colangelo also committed his ownership group - Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd., the multi-billion-dollar conglomerate that counts profits if not playoff berths from the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs and Major League Soccer's Toronto FC - to go further into the NBA's punitive luxury tax than it ever has before in order to secure the NBA team its first 50-win season heading into its 16th year.
"The plan … is to win basketball games at whatever cost and whatever extent," he said. "The board is fully committed to doing whatever it takes to put a winning team on the floor. That includes re-signing Chris Bosh. That includes exceeding the tax limit.
"… I've got scenarios where we'll be a $3-million [all currency U.S.]tax team and a $7-million tax team. And I've got scenarios where we'll be higher than that."
What Colangelo couldn't offer were certainties after his hand-picked club fell short of his stated goal of 50 wins and home-court advantage in the first-round of the playoffs, referring to the Bosh situation as an unknown heading into the off-season.
What he did offer were regrets:
"I'd be leaving it short if I said it was anything less than heartbreaking to be sitting here talking about the off-season that we're about to embark on."
Colangelo argued that the situation facing the team isn't as bad as popularly portrayed. "Our situation is not as doom and gloom as they want to make it. I say [that]with great confidence … we've got a core of people that are very talented, we've got very good young players that continue to develop and emerge."
Bosh is expected to become a free agent after July 1. In the meantime, the club has an exclusive window in which to negotiate an extension to his existing contract, an option the seven-year veteran rejected during the season. In comments last week Bosh said winning was a priority for him going forward and noted that of the eight teams with home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, seven have payrolls that exceed the NBA's luxury-tax threshold, which requires teams to pay a dollar-for-dollar tax for every dollar they're over the limit.
Colangelo, who will be entering the final year of his contract, said that he wanted to stay with the franchise long-term and emphasized that head coach Jay Triano should also return. Re-signing pending free agent Amir Johnson was a priority, as was breaking up the log-jam at point guard.
As for Bosh, Colangelo said if Bosh wanted to leave he'd use the club's inherent advantage - the Raptors can offer Bosh a six-year contract for about $130-million compared with other teams that can only offer him five years and $100-million - to sign him and then trade him to a club of his choice and secure an asset in return.
In any scenario, the hope is to leave the taste of a lost season behind.