By Steve Keating
TORONTO (Reuters) - The Toronto Raptors' future looked as clouded as the skies over Iceland on Monday as general manager Bryan Colangelo delivered a season-ending post-mortem that included a well worn sales pitch to Chris Bosh.
With Bosh, the franchise leader in points and rebounds, set to test the free agent waters it looks an anxious time for Toronto basketball fans as they wait to see what the all-star will do on July 1 when the wheeling and dealing begins.
Colangelo has made it his number one goal to have Bosh back in a Raptors uniform next season but the player has made it equally clear he wants to see what other opportunities may be out there for an Olympic gold medal-winning forward.
"I still fully intend to talk about him staying a Raptor 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 told reporters.
"That's the big unknown.
"He negotiated for the flexibility, he's got it as do others and they are going to take their time.
"We remain Chris Bosh's best option to maximize his contract potential.
"Whether or not he signs a maximum deal to stay here or goes out on the market and still gets that maximum deal and we work out a sign and trade.
"It's not often a young athlete walks away from a significant amount of money."
After missing the playoffs for a second straight season, Bosh has placed a premium on winning and fans are about to find what price the man known as "CB4" puts on a championship.
While Bosh is keen to add a championship to his resume it may come at a hefty price with the Raptors able to offer him more money than any other team.
If Bosh re-signs with the Raptors he can earn an extra $30 million over the life of a six-year contract.
Bosh could also agree to a sign-and-trade deal, taking the maximum money and then allowing the Raptors to recoup some assets by sending him to another team.
Colangelo has bent over backwards trying to convince Bosh the Raptors are determined to put a championship caliber team on the court. Last season the general manager signed nine new players, including big Turk Hedo Turkoglu.
But the Raptors stumbled down the stretch and missed out on the playoffs on the final day of the regular season.
"It depends on what he (Bosh) is looking to achieve out of free agency," explained Colangelo. "This city has grown fond of him and he has grown fond of the city.
"The unknown of moving to a new city and the pressures that comes with a maximum contract are things he has to consider.
"He's got the opportunity to be the number one guy here.
"Sometimes be careful what you wish for...the idea that the grass is greener is a frightening notion sometimes."
(Editing by Miles Evans)