Andrea Bargnani’s right arm, which he had already injured in Portland in December, is now sprained so badly he will be shut down for the remainder of the Toronto Raptors’ season. This news has been greeted with a collective yawn from the team’s weary and disappointed fans.
Thus ends, ingloriously, AB’s second straight injury-ruined campaign. Coach Dwane Casey, who had such high hopes for Andrea, and who
coaxed some of the best play we’ve ever enjoyed from the enigmatic Italian early last year, must be frustrated up to here. He joins the ranks of those of us who have been waiting….and waiting….for the former first-overall selection of the 2006 draft to emerge as a star (or even a reliable journeyman).
After 7 seasons, we need to consider whether it’s time to cut ties with AB. Trade speculation, which was rampant prior to the deadline, will be under the radar until the summer. Let’s set those thoughts aside for the nonce, and examine whether using the NBA’s Amnesty Clause would be in the team’s best interest. The Raps would drop Bargnani from the roster via waiver, which means his salary disappears from the salary cap (and luxury tax, should that be relevant), thus freeing up cash to pursue free agents.
Amnesty can be used only once! Many teams have already used amnesty, in some cases to get rid of players with chronic problems above the neck (Washington – Andray Blatche, Orlando – Gilbert Arenas) or in others to free up a roster spot or salary (Rockets – Luis Scola, Sixers – Elton Brand). Andrea is not a knucklehead, so he would be amnestied because his production is hugely out of whack with his compensation. His health, as we’ve noted, has been a problem recently, but he was able to stay in the lineup for most of his first five seasons.
There are two related questions of primary importance: can AB regain full health, and, if he does, will he return to the productivity he displayed in the ’10-’11 season (21+ points and 5+ rebounds per game)? He will turn 28 early next season, and should be still in his prime – but he’s never had one.
I don’t envy Bryan Colangelo this decision. I went on record some months ago as being vehemently opposed to using amnesty on AB, but my position has softened considerably. Two separate injuries to his shooting arm are deeply worrisome.
My first choice remains a trade (he and Landry Fields to the Lakers). If that’s not possible, then monitor his health over the summer. Assuming his arm heals, and he has a solid training camp, the team needs to spotlight him in pre-season games. If he’s still unattractive to potential “buyers”, and his game is still in the doldrums, then I’d say it’s time to cross the Rubicon and put him on waivers.
What do you think about using Amnesty on AB? Let us know in the Comments.
Brian Boake is a co-editor 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.