“With the first pick in the 2006 NBA Draft the Toronto Raptors select Andrea Bargnani from Italy”. These words from David Stern have haunted me since that illustrious draft. A draft filled with talents like Rudy Gay, my pick (Rajon Rondo), LaMarcus Aldridge…and the list goes on. All players that have panned out much better than the next Dirk Nowitzki.
Since then most opinions on the Raptors big man have him pegged out as “soft”, “unemotional” or more simply a “bust”. However there are some Raptor enthusiasts out there that may either loathe him, tolerate him periodically or actually even like him.
Early last season, Bargnani showed signs of progression towards being a legitimate contributor to a winning formula. As for the 2012-2013 season he’s shown up this looking softer than an overcooked pot of Primo pasta. This is where it all starts; a couple rebounds here, a 1-20 shooting performance there, the Raptors lose 12 of 13 games, Bargnani gets injured and then the Raptors win 8 of their next 10 games.
Waves and waves of Bargnani trade speculation began to surround the former number one overall pick, rumors even said he made a statement claiming that the Raptors are “the worst team in the NBA”. At this point anything Bargnani related at this point would be considered negative to the general public. Next thing you know #TradeBargnani begins to trend, rumours of Pau Gasol to the Raptors spiral out of control and the Raptors continue their success without their former centerpiece.
As of late the Raptors have been playing better basketball, having committed to playing solid defence. Since the Bargnani injury, the Raptors have limited a lot of those long low percentage jumpers and share the ball with trust. The Raptors have also committed to the defensive end of the court as well as leading the NBA in offensive rebounds for a noticeable stretch of the season.
So hear me out on this one. What I’m going to propose are a few potential resolutions to dealing with Bargnani’s future. Not saying you have to agree with these proposals, but just hear me out because these scenarios would be beneficial not only now for the Raptors, but also for the long-term success of this ball club.
So…Hear Me Out:
Scenario #1: Trade Andrea Bargnani to the Atlanta Hawks.
Toronto Trades: Andrea Bargnani, Jose Calderon and Linas Kleiza to the Atlanta Hawks
Toronto Acquires: Josh Smith,Devin Harris and Zaza Pachulia
Hear me out:
Josh Smith is in the last year of his contract and has obviously been disgruntled in Atlanta. Furthermore, Louis Williams is now out for the season with a torn ACL injury. Adding Andrea Bargnani would solidify a front-court scoring presence for a Hawks team that struggles to get buckets. Jose Calderon’s trade value is at an all-time high since he’s been placed in the starting line-up. Adding Andrea and Jose to a Hawks ball club who could use a steady point-guard heading into the playoffs would onlybe beneficial. The Hawks do lose out on Josh Smith, however there’s no guarantee that he re-signs with Hawks this offseason. Regardless if it’s just a rental for the remainder of the season, Josh Smith brings defense, versatility and leadership; he would immediately become a fan favorite in Toronto. Adding Devin Harris would provide a quality back-up for Kyle Lowry if he should return to the starting line-up, however he is a mere shell of the Harris of the past; when he played for the Dallas Mavericks.
Scenario #2: Trade Andrea Bargnani to the Los Angeles Lakers
Toronto Trades: Andrea Bargnani & Mickael Pietrus
Toronto Acquires: Metta World Peace, Antawn Jamison
Hear me out:
Forget Pau Gasol for a moment. The Lakers have clearly been struggling all season long, failing to find consistent chemistry on this veteran ball club. Adding Andrea Bargnani to the mix would change the dynamic of the Lakers, creating another target for Steve Nash to find would ease the scoring load on Kobe Bryant. Also Bargnani’s style of play would be much welcomed by Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni. For the Raptors, adding Metta World Peace for a couple seasons would only increase the perimeter defence of this ball club. He can also still hit the three, and provide great entertainment for the fans. Antawn Jamison (career avgs of 19ppg 8reb) was originally a Toronto Raptors draft pick who was swapped for Vince Carter. At this point in his career Jamison can still be a valuable contributor. He has the ability to step out and hit the 3, but he’s a veteran player who’s not afraid to go inside and grab some boards. Jamison is a consummate professional, so his wisdom and presence in the locker-room could do a lot for this team. Jamison has a one year contract.
Scenario #3: Trade Andrea Bargnani to the Phoenix Suns
Toronto Trades: Andrea Bargnani
Toronto Acquires: Michael Beasley and Channing Frye
Hear Me Out:
The Phoenix Suns are the worst team in the Western Conference. They’ve just parted ways with coach Alvin Gentry, and are in state of peril in the post-Nash era in Phoenix. The Suns have always been known to be a team that scores a lot of points. Without adopted son Steve Nash the Suns just haven’t been the same. Getting Michael Beasley and Channing Frye from Phoenix could work in the Raptors benefit offensively only if they are able to unleash the talents of Beasley. The Raptors need a scorer from the wing position, acquiring Beasley who has been used sparingly this season since signing a new contract with a new team could work out. We’ve seen a lot of small-ball this season so he could also play the power-forward in spurts. With a contract that’s more reasonable than Landry Fields, and the need to resolve this Bargnani issue, Beasley to Toronto could be the change both of these players need.
Scenario #4: Keep Andrea Bargnani until the end of the season then use the amnesty clause.
Hear Me Out:
Suppose Bargnani returns and isn’t able to mesh with a team who’s mentality has changed drastically since his injury. With that, his trade value drops even further and Bryan Colangelo can’t find a suitor for him. Then the Raptors are stuck with a 7-foot Italian enigma, that’s incapable of grabbing rebounds or playing solid help-defence. What’s the next move? Amnesty him. Why get nothing for a former #1 overall pick? Hear me out. Andrea Bargnani is due to receive 30-million dollars over the next three seasons. Jose Calderon’s 10million dollar contract comes off the books at the end of the season, and Linas Kleiza has a 4.5-million dollar player option. Say the stars align, Kleiza declines his option and Jose re-signs for significantly less money or walks. By using our amnesty clause on Bargnani, the Raptors would be almost 20-million dollars under the salary cap (includes DeMar DeRozan’s new contract). By virtually cutting ties with Bargnani this gives the Raptors financial flexibility to make a some moves whether that be absorbing a large contract via trade, signing a quality free agent or even potentially signing multiple free agents to bolster the depth of this ball club.
So there they are folks! Agree, disagree… or agree to disagree. Regardless! Something has to be done with Andrea Bargnani because he has long overstayed his welcome in Toronto. These were just a few scenarios that could benefit all parties involved. At this point Bargnani’s value is hard to gauge due to torn ligaments in his shooting elbow. How he returns from injury will be the ultimate factor in determining Bargnani’s future with Raptors.
If you must know…he’s now back in the gym, not working on his off hand or anything, but shooting jumpers.
If you have any of your own suggestions as what we should do with Andrea Bargnani, comment below, hit us up on Twitter by hash-tagging #RaptorsCage on your next tweet or find us on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/RaptorsCage.
Photo Cred: (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette)