“Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been.” John Greenleaf Whittier
News of the trade of Andrea Bargnani from the Toronto Raptors to the New York Knicks has been greeted with virtual and actual high-fives by fans north of the 49th parallel. I can’t join in the glee. The Raps have only had one first-overall draft pick, and hopes were high that night in 2006 inside the Air Canada Centre that using it on Andrea Bargnani would provide a huge dividend. The doubts set in early. There were whispers that our new superstar was devoid of personality. Supposedly the Raptors’ crew that picked him up at Toronto’s Pearson Airport couldn’t get a word out of him in Italian, English or Esperanto. We wanted to believe so badly that even his wildly uneven 3-point shooting style was glossed over as rookie nerves. Yet I was worried – he was supposed to be NBA-ready, yet one shot would have a majestic arc, the next would be a line drive. He couldn’t jump, and fired away with his right foot ahead of his left…um, that’s bad technique, but no matter. Good coaching will fix all these flaws. And perhaps it might have, except that Andrea never seemed to acknowledge coaches. Sam Mitchell has said he wasn’t allowed to get in Andrea’s grill, as upper management (read: Bryan Colangelo) was afraid the sensitive Italian wouldn’t be able to take it.
It’s all moot now, at least for us Raps fans. If Andrea is ever going to be more than a talented enigma, he won’t be doing it in Toronto.
As for the trade itself, it’s addition by subtraction. AB had to go, even though I wanted him to be spotlighted in pre-season games, to drive up his value. Marcus Camby’s reaction to being dealt sounded like the words of someone who might well retire rather than move north again. I’m sure Masai Ujiri would be perfectly happy should Camby indeed call it quits, after he’s officially a Rap. Having Camby’s salary off the books would be welcome. Steve Novak can shoot from distance and…and….and…. Quentin Richardson is in the deal for salary purposes, and I’d be surprised if the aging small forward ever slipped on a Raps’ uniform. The draft picks are useful tools.
Farewell, Andrea. You promised by the yard, and delivered by the inch, but there’s no hard feelings – just disappointment.
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.