The Toronto Raptors have announced they have signed free agent, ex-Raptor, and number 1 pick Andrea Bargnani in a move which will boost roster depth and see a very familiar face return to Toronto. Bargnani will play for Toronto for the veteran’s minimum for the rest of the season.
In 2006 the Raptors used the number 1 pick in the draft to acquire Andrea Bargnani,who had been playing in the Italian Lega Basket Serie A with Bennetton Treviso. The young prospect (just 21 at the time of the draft) was regarded as a possible future Dirk Nowitzki due to his height and ability to shoot from range. While in Toronto the first time around, Bargnani made the all-rookie NBA team but was never able to fully live up to expectations. The Raptors would fall shy of making the playoffs in subsequent years and Bargnani was in and out of injury problems. In the 2010-11 season, Bargs averaged 21.4 points for the Raptors.
The Raptors eventually traded him to the New York Knicks to start the 2013/14 season for a first round pick, but injury problems continued to hamper him. He started this season with the Brooklyn Nets but was waived in late February and was not picked up by anyone until now.
The Raptors who are now returning to the post-season for the third straight season have not had a lot of success at power forward and Bargnani is poised to log significant minutes with his ability to stretch the floor. Bargnani had said he hoped he would be able to find a team before the current season ended and was quoted saying that he “had unfinished business in Toronto”, referring of course to his first stint with the Raptors, which consisted of two brief playoff appearances in the Chris Bosh era.
Coach Dwane Casey said “He is used to the city and should fit in nicely with our current line up. His ability to stretch the floor at the 4 will prove to be an invaluable asset.” GM Masai Ujiri has been known to make unconventional and clever moves in the past and will no doubt be hoping this one will make a significant impact in the Raptors’ playoff run. There is absolutely a certain level of irony here as well, given the fact that Ujiri was the one that dealt Bargnani in the first place. An important piece to this: because he was waived before March 1st, he is able to be added to the playoff roster. Ujiri has yet to comment on the move.
Fans have had issues with Bargnani in the past sighting an in ability to attack the basket and a lack of effort on defence as their main concerns.He has also been booed on many appearances in Toronto since leaving. However, if anything, Bargnani has proven that when he actually tries, he can be a solid player. Now a veteran in the NBA, hopefully Bargnani provides the extra lift Toronto may need come playoff time.
On an unrelated note, check out some articles we wrote on April 1st that follow a similar tangent…