Many fans of the Toronto Raptors assume that the departure of Andrea Bargnani after 7 maddening seasons is a foregone conclusion. They take comfort in the words of Bryan Colangelo, who was not shy about revealing the fact that he spoke to Andrea and his agent about the need for the big Italian to get a fresh start elsewhere.
Let’s be clear – I was one of the dwindling few who thought, prior to the start of last season, that AB would be ready to deliver a big season. I was wrong. Even when AB wasn’t hurt, his play was dreadful. We can forgive almost all of Andrea’s defensive deficiencies and disinclination to rebound, if he puts the ball in the basket. That didn’t happen, and his scoring average dipped to a woeful 12.7. The nadir game was a November double-overtime loss at home to San Antonio, in which AB managed to make 2 buckets on 19 shot attempts. So that’s enough. He needs to go – but where?
AB is owed almost $ 22M over the next two seasons. That’s a huge number for a player who at 27 should be in the midst of his career’s best years, but in fact is in decline. The only way to trade him is to find a GM with a distressed player, and offer to swap problems. Even if BC could pull off such a deal, the Raps would still have an underachieving player, but of a different kind. Is that progress?
The off-season is not the time to resolve the Bargnani conundrum. Instead, monitor his health, and ensure he comes to training camp in top shape with no injury hangover. Work him hard in camp, and feature him in pre-season games. If enough GMs are convinced he’s back to the form he displayed several seasons ago, AB may actually attract several suitors.
Until all that’s done, BC, ratchet down the trade talk. There’s lots of time to salvage something from the Bargnani fiasco.
Brian Boake is Senior 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.