Dec 9, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Toronto Raptors center Andrea Bargnani (7) drives past Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin (32) during the game at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

He did one trade – here’s his next one (You’re welcome, Bryan)

Almost all citizens of Raptors Rapture Nation expect Fearless Leader Bryan Colangelo to drop the other shoe before the NBA trade deadline of February 21. In other words, somebody (or somebodies) currently on the roster is going to get traded, amnestied or waived.

BC has proven to be unpredictable in his decision-making. The man-crush on Rudy Gay he must have quietly had for years was consummated last week, at a steep price to our team’s immediate future (Jose Calderon) and long-term health in the front court (Ed Davis). He’s also gone over the salary cap, which I would have guessed he’d been ordered to avoid.

It’s the big man situation which is most worrisome. We currently have Andrea Bargnani, Jonas Valanciunas, Hamed Haddadi, Aaron Gray, Quincy Acy and Amir Johnson up front. Only Amir is a proven NBA-grade player. The rest are borderline D-Leaguers (Haddadi, Gray), rookies (JV, Quincy) and the captain of the All-NBA Most Disappointing Players team (do I need to say?). The likelihood of getting  relief in the draft is almost nil, so any immediate improvement must come via trade.

This post will endeavour to create a workable trade for Andrea which nets us a serviceable big. I’m going to assume that AB has returned and shown enough skill to be of interest to an opposing General Manager. (I’m not going to burden you with a “I’ve worked out a trade for Kyrie Irving (or LeBron James, or Kobe”) premise. Both of us already see enough of that nonsense online, or hear it on sports radio – you don’t come here for silliness.)

Let’s start with the idea of finding a motivated “seller”. Who can use a stretch-4? Whose fans are clamouring for a trade in order to turn around a disappointing season? Could the answer to both of those questions be the same team – the Los Angeles Lakers? Pau Gasol is the Lost Boy in La-La Land these days, and could be pried away. If we trade AB, Linas Kleiza and Aaron Gray, the trade works. However, Lakers’ GM Mitch Kupchak is nobody’s fool, and I can’t imagine him accepting Kleiza under any circumstances. How about AB & Landry Fields for Pau?  Yes, it works, and it passes the no-Kleiza prerequisite, so that’s what we’re going with (Before we drop the deal with Kleiza in it, I thought you might be amused to learn this: the Machine forecasts the win-loss impact of trades. Much to my surprise, both of these deals have the same impact! The Raps gain 2 wins, and the Lakers surrender 1.)

Jan. 30, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA: Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol dunks the ball in the first quarter against the Phoenix Suns at the US Airways Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

There’s risk for both teams in this deal. The Raps acquire an expensive talent on the down side of his career, and stray even further into luxury tax land. The Lakers are taking back 2 players with enormous question marks – will AB ever reach his potential, and is Landry’s jump shot gone forever following his arm surgery?

There are significant positives too. The teams are trading, and eliminating, headaches. Both franchises are comfortable with European players (maybe Pau could tutor JV?). A Raps starting five of JV-Pau-Rudy-DeMar-Kyle would be at least competitive, and potentially much better than that. With Amir hopping off the bench as the first big, we’d have a solid rotation up front. Assuming Alan Anderson and Terrence Ross rediscover their shooting skills, we’d be covered at the wing spots. John Lucas is little more than a stopgap at the point, but Rome wasn’t built in a day.

What do you think, Raps fans? We’d enjoy hearing from Lakers lovers as well.

Brian Boake is a staff writer for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.

Tags: Andrea Bargnani Los Angeles Lakers Toronto Raptors

  • Iceberg Slim

    You claim Colangelo sacrificed the long-term health of our front court…between Acy, Amir, and JV you’ve got one proven NBA player, a rookie whose upside appears to be from good to great, and a serviceable – albeit undersized – rookie in Acy. The average age of these three players? Under 23 years. I’m not sure an aging Pau Gasol is going help the future of this front court all that much..Of course, Bargs has to go; I’d say we should either look at adding non-superstar help at the point and in the paint, or just try to clear some salary. I’d be afraid that the addition of Gasol would hinder the development of our young front court.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hello Iceberg Slim: In my trade, we’re losing one big, and gaining one back. My guess is that Pau will need more rest than AB does. If anything, the presence of Pau could help the development of the youngsters, which you and I both want. Pau should be a much better tutor than the introverted AB could ever be. Thanks for commenting.

  • Slap Dog Hoops

    The raptors should stand pat at least until the end of the season to wait and see whether Bargnarni will pan out with this new roster. Amir Johnson is certainly not a long term option at the floor as he is foul prone and very inconsistent and love him or hate him, Drea has a skill set that is hard to come by–a 7 footer than can literally score anywhere on the court.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi Jeffrey: Unlike a lot of fans, I’m like you, in the sense that I’m not in a mad rush to deal AB. I think BC has made up his mind, but 8 solid games from AB off the bench may keep him in town. Kupchak in LA has said “no deals this season”, but Gasol has indicated he’d be prepared to leave,so there’s mixed messages. Who knows? I was dead wrong about the Gay deal; I thought it was just noise.
      Thanks for commenting.

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