I think that we all assumed that Chris Bosh was the prime free agent interest for the Houston Rockets, but nobody had any definitive proof of such a claim. While ESPN's Marc Stein isn't exactly the Czar on what the Rockets are planning to do in free agency, his commentary on the Bosh situation should definitely raise Houston's collective ears, as there are few better reporters in the business.
Here is what Stein had to say on TrueHoop this afternoon (bold emphasis mine):
The Rockets' No. 1 free-agent target? Sources say it's still Bosh, who earlier this season said the idea of playing in his hometown of Dallas holds limited appeal ... but hasn't said anything to suggest that he wouldn't play somewhere else in his home state.
If the Raptors and Bosh reach the expected conclusion that it's time for an amicable divorce, Houston has amassed an enticing cache of sign-and-trade assets. One source, offering one small example, says that the Raptors are intrigued by young forward Jordan Hill, whom the Rockets extracted from the Knicks in the Tracy McGrady three-way deal in February.
Hill would be my guess as to who we might have to give up in order to acquire Bosh. He immediately gives the Raptors a young power forward to develop, and while Hill isn't going to be as good as Bosh, he certainly has the potential to be a very effective starter at some point down the road.
Stein continues, pointing out that the Rockets have rare flexibility in the situation. They can offer the Raptors young assets, and can offer Bosh the role of "go-to" guy on a roster that has just about everything else.
And then he dropped this bomb.
Yet it's believed that the Raptors, if Bosh indeed proves willing to join the Rockets via sign-and-trade, will try to foist Hedo Turkoglu on Houston as part of the deal. Would the Rockets be willing to take on Turkoglu's contract ($43.8 million over the next four years) and surrender, say, Trevor Ariza in return to clinch Bosh's arrival? The cost of adding Bosh along with Turkoglu would likely be prohibitive for the Rockets, but Toronto certainly figures to try.
Yuck. Parting ways with Ariza wouldn't disturb me as much as taking on Hedo's contract, because I really don't want the Rockets to be stuck in a Turkish Prison. That said, aside from the financial issue, what would become of our defense for the next five years if the Rockets were to take on Turkoglu? How ugly is Bosh/Hedo/Brooks/Budinger on the defensive end? In that respect, Ariza is worth trying to hold on to.
I don't think the Rockets will have to include Turkoglu in a deal, because I doubt the Raptors will get a better offer regardless. Keep your eyes open for more updates on the issue, although we really won't see anything concrete until free agency begins.
Oh, and Brad Miller is a player of interest as well. Can we convert Trey Kerby to Rockets fandom?