The HQ takes a look at Bryan Colangelo's year-end discussion with the media, and focuses in on what BC's comments mean for a certain Italian center...
I'm Bryan Colangelo.
I'm a two-time NBA Executive of the year, and the man responsible for building the foundation of the Phoenix Suns' "7 Seconds or Less" offense, as well as turning the Toronto Raptors from bottom feeder to playoff contender in my first season with said group.
I may have made some mistakes recently, but I've got things firmly back on track, and there's no better man for this rebuild that we've started.
While the above words were never spoken at yesterday's "End of Season Presser" with the current Raptors' GM, they might as well have been.
If you saw the footage, all available at Raptors.com, you saw a man pleading his case to remain in charge of a team that won 22 games last season, third worst in franchise history, and in serious need of an infusion of true talent.
However along with the pleading, there was a dose of humility that I hadn't seen from the former Legomaster in quite some time.
Sure, he compared DeMar DeRozan to Kobe Bryant, and maddenly managed to squeeze Jorge Garbajosa into his discussion of "what's gone wrong," but there was also a breath of fresh air as BC laid a few things bare regarding his roster's shortcomings.
Most notably, was his take on Andrea Bargnani.
"The enigma of all enigmas" he called him and went on to say that, "he has gotten better offensively, has proven to be a legitimate 20-point scorer in the game. Clearly, he has not done the things that we all like him to do, which is defending the ball and getting rebounds....He's far from the perfect player and is a valuable asset to the organization"
So yes, still a bit of a sales pitch for any GM's that were within earshot shall we say, but if you recall, this is a far cry from his take on Bargs in previous end-of-year sessions.
More on Bargs:
"What we have right now is a considerable asset for this organization...mis-cast as a five because we don't have anybody to man that position". "Big guys take longer [to develop] than most...I don't know if he's ever going to be a better defensive player than he is right now....can he be a better rebounder? Absolutely, but he's not [focused] on it....he's not going to be a good rim-defender...anyway, you probably don't want a guy like that jumping up and down at the risk of picking up injury." "He is a matchup nightmare of every team we play night in and night out and I guarantee that he's the #1 [target for defenses]".
Media Question: Are you getting a defensive five to overcome Bargnani's deficiencies or would you get one anyway?
"Probably both....I had that guy last year in Tyson Chandler" "Lot of people want to make the Andrea situation about me and that's nonsense".
Really, we could go through the rest of BC's presser with a fine-toothed comb, but in my opinion, these segments regarding Bargs are the real meat and potatoes of things so to speak.
Because outside of Andrea's use this year and the Kleiza signing (which to no surprise, BC defended in his presser), Colangelo made some solid moves.
While I wasn't initially a fan of the James Johnson trade, Johnson did some a little something and as the talent of the upcoming draft continues to dwindle, it is now very unlikely that Toronto could have drafted any impact player with Miami's very late first-round pick.
And the drafting of Ed Davis, although somewhat lucky, acquisition of Jerryd Bayless, and even smaller moves like retention of Joey Dorsey were fine examples of getting something for very little, reminiscent of Colangelo's early days with the club.
So let's go back to Andrea.
TSN.ca's Tim Chisholm recently pointed out that the drafting of Ed Davis and acquisition of grittier players like Amir Johnson and Jerryd Bayless were symbolic in that they were moves that went away from the Andrea Bargnani and Jason Kapono style of team-building, and I'd argue that perhaps then this shift in mentality means Bargs is finally on a much shorter leash.
He has to be.
We've argued that for two years at least now, and watching BC yesterday, and even listening to Jay Triano last Thursday, I just got the sense that they had had enough.
At some point your own cred starts to take too much of a hit and the reality is that no GM wants to be left holding the bag on a 22 win season.
However, all of that is great, but indeed it's just talk.
The old adage "actions speak louder than words" is more than appropriate here considering that we've heard Bargs talk about needing to improve his rebounding and defence before, we've heard Jay Triano call for more bench time if Andrea refused to improve defensively and we've sure as hell heard BC note Andrea's need to improve his all-around game all the while extolling the virtues of Bargnani's offensive repertoire.
As well, as a fan, it's tough to hear all of this now.
It's been evident for years that the idea of playing Andrea at the five, or pairing him with the likes of Chris Bosh was flawed, yet it hasn't been until this year that BC has admitted this.
In fact there hasn't been nearly enough made of this point.
I recall on numerous occasions going right back to after Andrea was drafted, that Colangelo assured fans and the media that Bargnani would be a 5 in this league, and now he's talking about the need to get a defensive center?
So I can't say the sudden change in tune sat well with me.
To a lesser degree, neither did the notation that the bulk of the trade exception acquired in exchange for Chris Bosh probably wouldn't be used, but I was expecting that from the moment the transaction took place last summer.
The bottom line is that Bargs has to go, as if you simplify things, there are only two choices here for the team; either they continue to play him at the 5, thus suffering the same defensive woes next year as they have the past, or they play him at the position apparently he should always have been playing, the 4, and that would come at the expense of Ed Davis and Amir Johnson.
It's hard to imagine the latter happening so really, unless the team is prepared to use him off the bench, I think thankfully the Bargina era is coming to a close.
Again, actions here speak louder than words, and with the impending labour situation and even the future of the team's management core up in air, any type of move is still potentially a long ways off, but yesterday's frankness was a necessary first step.
And to me, being able to move the road block that's been Mr. Bargnani would be the biggest argument yet for keeping BC around, and perhaps getting him back to his previous Legomaster status.