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Toronto Raptors Chris Bosh walks from the dressing room before speaking to the media after finishing the NBA season in Toronto April 15, 2010. REUTERS/Mark Blinch (CANADA - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)


For proof that Chris Bosh has gone local after seven seasons working in downtown Toronto, consider that when it came time to go out for dinner with friends and family in the hours after the curtain closed on what may be his final season in a Toronto Raptors uniform he didn't bother with the latest seen and be seen destination.

Instead his last supper - of the 2009-10 season at least - was at Lee Gardens, a venerable spot in the heart of Chinatown on Spadina Avenue.

But it was over a late-night meal there that it really hit him: for him and for the franchise he's served for his entire adult life, the future starts now; and he doesn't know what's coming.

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"I just sat there with a blank state of mind with my family at dinner after the game. I don't know what's going to happen next," said Bosh, who will be a free agent this summer. "I have to figure some things out."

The Raptors all-time leading scorer and rebounder completed a star-crossed season: The 25-year-old averaged career bests of 24 points, 10.8 rebounds and 51.8 per cent shooting, but Toronto finished out of the playoffs for the fifth time in seven seasons and second year running, and Bosh missed 12 of the club's last 30 games with injuries.

He's eligible for a six-year contract worth about $130-million (U.S.) if he stays in Toronto or a five-year deal worth $100-million if he signs elsewhere. The other possibility is the Raptors could sign Bosh to a six-year deal and trade him to a team of his preference in order to get some talent back.

"No matter what happens, me and [Raptors president]Bryan Colangelo agreed to work together. I think that's important," said Bosh who looked none the worse for wear after suffering facial fractures and a broken nose that kept him out of the Raptors last five games of the season during which Toronto - once comfortably the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference - slid out of the playoff picture. "I respect him as a GM, and he respects me as a player. We're always going to talk."

Bosh dismissed any suggestion - some of which came from within the organization - that the concern for his future or external influences contributed to his lacklustre play for a long stretch after the All-Star break after he missed seven games with a sprained ankle. Toronto was 11-19 after the mid-season break

"There are always going to be outside influences," Bosh said. "They are always going to be there in any situation, and they come in more influences than one. … I struggled after an injury. That's plain and simple."

Bosh said he's open to coming back to Toronto, saying he saw potential among his teammates and that lifting the only franchise he's ever played for to the championship-contending level he aspires to play at would be a rewarding result. "To be able to say that yeah, things were tough, but we did it the right way … that's always the perfect storybook ending. It would be a great movie."

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But Bosh isn't prepared to lend his star power to a plucky indie flick. He expects changes to be made to the roster and he's looking for ownership to commit to finding him help. He's seen the salary figures attached to the league's championship contending teams - nearly all of which have payrolls that exceed the NBA's luxury tax threshold.

"As I've gotten older, I've looked at other teams and their success and how they do their business," he said. "I mean, the best teams in the league every year, you look at Denver, LA, Cleveland, Dallas, Orlando, Boston, those are the main teams that you think of when you think championship, those are the teams that are going to be playing in late May, June. Those are the teams that are playing, and they're well over [the luxury tax threshold]"

Bosh knows what he wants. But when it comes to how and where, his future may as well be written in Chinese.

"Nobody knows [what my future holds]" he said. "Not even me. That's something only the future holds. Everybody keeps looking for answers. There are no answers right now. There will only be answers when it's time."

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