Larry Coon can give wishful-thinking Thunder fans 16 million reasons why Toronto Raptors All-Star forward Chris Bosh wouldn’t fit in Oklahoma City.
And his reasoning, the most rational amid a recent stream of fan fantasies, best explains why the Thunder isn’t likely to land Bosh, one of the premier players expected to be available in this summer’s free-agent market. "The Thunder is already committed to 11 players (next season), totaling about $40 million,” said Coon, who is widely regarded as the leading authority on the NBA salary cap. "Since Bosh will be eligible to earn about $16.6 million, the Thunder won’t have the cap room for him.” Bosh, whose Raptors make their lone visit to the Ford Center tonight to face the Thunder, has quickly become the player national pundits project as the missing piece to Oklahoma City’s future championship hopes. The 6-foot-10 inch power forward will miss his fifth straight game tonight because of an ankle injury, foiling fans’ only first-hand look at what the fuss has been about. But unlike fellow potential free-agent stars LeBron James of Cleveland and Dwyane Wade of Miami, Bosh is viewed as a player who would sign with small market Oklahoma City. Bosh, a five-time All-Star, is a native of nearby Dallas and has career averages of 20.1 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.2 blocks. He’s averaging career highs of 24.4 points and 11.4 rebounds this season and has been pegged as the prototypical long-term fit with the up-and-coming Thunder because he’s still a pup himself, turning just 26 on March 24. But the numbers that matter most have everything to do with OKC’s payroll and nothing to do with Bosh’s production. The Thunder is projected to have roughly $10 million to $12 million in salary cap room this summer. Since Bosh is currently making more than $15.7 million with the Raptors, league rules permit Bosh to receive an extension that offers a 10.5 percent raise with the Raptors, or an eight percent bump from another team, both placing him further outside the Thunder’s price range. Coon points out there is only one other option if the Thunder was sold on acquiring Bosh’s services — a sign-and-trade with Toronto. Under league rules, teams can sign their own free agents with the sole intent of trading them. But it’s a complicated maneuver in which both teams and the player must agree to a deal. It would require the Thunder to include roughly $6.6 million in the deal and likely mandate a few more assets for the rights to Bosh. "But it could work out to everyone’s advantage,” said Coon, a computer scientist and information technology director with the University of California-Irvine by day.