With just one year left on his contract with the Raptors after this season, all-star Chris Bosh has recently become the subject of rumours suggesting he wants out of Toronto.
Bosh downplayed the reports at practice on Monday, telling reporters that he hasn't spoken to General Manager Bryan Colangelo and that the reports are not true.
ESPN's Stephen A. Smith had thrown fuel on the fire Sunday when he claimed Bosh had expressed his wishes to leave the franchise.
"You're going to see Chris Bosh's name come up (in trade talks) simply because he's already told the Toronto Raptors that he has no desire to remain in Toronto," Smith said in an interview on ESPN. "You're going to hear Dallas' name in the equation because they've got a strong interest in Chris Bosh, as well as the Miami Heat, so you never know what could happen.
"[The Heat] are in pursuit of Chris Bosh," said Smith. "Everybody's been talking about Jermaine O'Neal or what have you - it's Chris Bosh that they want. Whether or not they're going to be lucky to get him, I sincerely doubt it, because Bryan Colangelo might try to hold on to him until next year."
Bosh said the comments caught him off guard.
“It was a surprise to me, and I can't be responsible for what other people say," the 24-year-old told reporters at practice on Monday. "I understand that you're entitled to an opinion, but making stuff up - we can't do that, let's all be fair.
“I haven't thought about that at all (free agency), I've been thinking about this year, and the Cleveland Cavaliers (Tuesday's opponent)," Bosh said. "That's what we say all the time. Can I tell the future? No, I cannot. I just have to wait until that situation comes up.”
Colangelo strongly denied the rumours.
"There's no truth to the rumour or speculation that he said anything to any of us in the organization that he's going to be leaving," the Raps' GM said Monday. "There's no truth to the fact that he's on the trading block or being shopped in any regard.
"Chris Bosh, as I've said, is the cornerstone of this franchise. As we look to build, we're building around Chris."
When it comes to speculation that the Raps' star could be on his way out, Smith is hardly the first media commentator to make that suggestion.
"Enjoy it while you see it - Chris Bosh in a Toronto Raptors all-star uniform," former Raptor Jalen Rose told ESPN on January 25. "Because this year or next year will be the last."
Rose made similar comments back in November.
"Cleveland Cavalier fans, Toronto Raptor fans - enjoy 'em while you got 'em," said Rose. "Summer 2010, New York Knick fans - stand, cheer and rejoice. I know right now, Nate Robinson wears number four and Quentin Richardson wears number 23. Expect to see LeBron James and Chris Bosh donning those numbers that season."
While Bosh has never publicly expressed a desire to leave the Raptors' organization, if he chooses to leave he would be the latest in a growing string of high-profile players to make an unwelcome exit.
Ask Raptors fans about Damon Stoudamire, Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter.
"We've got to get some players," Stoudamire said 12 years ago amid the struggles of a young team. "That's the bottom line. They've got to prove to me that they're going to go out and be willing to spend money on some free agents and get some players that will come and play hard. It's frustrating when you go out and you are short-handed."
The problem did not end there.
McGrady broke the hearts of Raptors fans when he departed for the Orlando Magic in 2000, following a breakout season both for him and the Raptors team, which made its first playoff appearance that year.
Carter, far and away the most high-profile Raptor of all-time, became frustrated by the team's lack of success and demanded a trade. He was sent to the Nets in 2004. Carter even conceded that he had not given one hundred per cent effort in the later stages of his time with the Raptors.
Despite the strong recent play of Jose Calderon and the addition of Jermaine O'Neal in the off-season, the Raptors are 11 games under .500 at 19-30 on the season.