Those checking out the NBA spread haven’t seen Toronto as a favorite often this season (16 times, to be exact), but the Raptors are in a rebuilding period, so there wasn’t much expected out of this young team. But things could be changing, and that means moving out their former No.1 overall pick.
Many expected Andrea Bargnani to flourish with Chris Bosh gone, and the seven-foot Italian has averaged 21.8 points, a career high. But Bargnani, who was the No.1 pick in the 2006 draft, isn’t a factor on the glass with 5.3 rebounds, he doesn’t block shots, and he is as bad a post defender as there is in the NBA. Some compare Bargnani to Dallas All-Star and former MVP Dirk Nowitzki, but the German was always a better rebounder and defender than his Italian counterpart. General manager Bryan Colangelo, whose job is also in question, may be ready to end the Bargnani experiment if he can get someone to take Bargnani and his contract, which still has four years and $42 million left. That could be the biggest obstacle in Colangelo’s (or whoever the Raptors’ GM may be) way.
The Raptors have a very good core of young players, such as DeMar DeRozan, Ed Davis and Amir Johnson, so losing Bargnani probably wouldn’t hurt them that much. They have the talent to make up for his offensive game, especially DeRozan, and he’s a black hole when he gets the ball anyway. Defensively, the Raptors aren’t great, but Bargnani is a liability that Johnson, Davis or Reggie Evans usually has to cover for, which can get them in foul trouble. If the Raptors can find someone to take Bargnani’s huge contract of their hands, getting rid of the Italian may be the best thing to strengthen their rebuilding process.