This is not meant to become an Andrea Bargnani argument thread. I am not far from either side of the fence when it comes to the Andrea Bargnani arguments. Hopefully, I can talk about this without starting too much of a dispute over Andrea's worth...Before reading this very lengthy post, please note that nobody has to agree with me because this is based on nothing more than my own observations and ideas.
Anyways, here it is... I think there is a decent chance that Andrea Bargnani gets traded during the 2012-2013 season! I know that most posters, including myself, have stated before that it seems unlikely that Colangelo would trade Bargnani, but I actually think he would and may even be hoping to do it.
At this point, I do not imagine that Colangelo would feel like he could deal Bargnani, but he has likely considered it. We know that Colangelo, like many people (especially in a work environment), does not like to look foolish or admit mistakes. However, the GM has shown the ability to correct situations that did not go as he expected. For example, he ended up dealing away Hedo Turkoglu, Jarrett Jack and Barbosa. He was very excited about all of those additions, but was not married to making them work. I know many people believe that Colangelo is obsessed with rolling Bargnani out there until he turns into the star that he envisioned. I doubt that is the case...
Colangelo and his respected coach have both voiced some criticisms of Bargnani, along with the mandatory praises. For this reason, I think Bargnani may need to maintain a level of play that is superior to even the 13 very strong games that he played last year before his first injury, if he wants to remain a Raptor.
Outside of Valanciunas, Andrea probably nets the most in a deal of any Raptors power forward. If Valanciunas Is showing signs of living up to his promise and his countryman, Kleiza seems to have recovered from his knee injury BC may start itching to deal Bargnani.
After all the talking up Bargnani that Colangelo has done over the years, he woul likely be embarrassed to move him without it looking like there is an extremely talented player that he could hang his hat on. Ed Davis and Amir Johnson have some fans, but almost nobody expects them to be great players. While a healthy Linas Kleiza if given the minutes/touches could probably come close to generating the points that Bargnani has, the casual fan probably already perceives him as a role player and would want somebody else to be excited about. In addition to factoring in pride and marketability, the other bigs need to show some offensive abilities.
Advanced stat-gurus may argue, but Andrea is the most talented offenisve player on the Raptors, and while their is no denying that Bargnani could choose to be a more efficient scorer, there is no Raptor that is faced with more defensive attention than him. Other players on the team would be very likely to see their efficiency ratings plummet if they were the go to scorer.
All that said, if Valanciunas can create a buzz and his friend Linas is healthy, Colangelo would clear the way for them. BC likes Kleiza and knows what he can bring to the table. Our Gm also likes Amir Johnson and would probably be happy to keep him around, knowing that he'd generate less interest than Andrea "the Enigma" Bargnani.
I see the season starting off with Bargnani playing 30-35 minutes a night and Valanciunas getting significant burn, despite being brought along slowly. That will not leave a lot of big man minutes for Ed Davis, Amir, Gray and Kleiza. However, based on the wings being Toronto's weakest links, Kleiza will get a fair amount of playing time out of position at Small Forward - allowing him to prove his health/worth.
Hopefully, Valanciunas impresses the Raptors and their fans. Likewise, in the minutes he gets, hopefully Ed Davis does too. If those two are realizing some of their potential and Amir/Kleiza are close to 100% the players they were before their surgeries, Colangelo would probably be happy to deal Bargnani for a solid small forward.
If Colangelo were unwilling to deal Bargnani, I feel he would have already acted on turning one of or both Ed Davis and Amir Johnson into a small forward (I also assume that he could have dealt Calderon by now if he really wanted to, but that is a separate discussion).
I bet Colangelo is hoping for Andrea to play well enough to be desired in the trade market - given what big men "earned" in the free-agent market, that would not be surprising.
Most fans on this site would not argue against a line up of:
New Wingman/DeRozan, Fields, Ross
New Wingman/DeRozan, Fields, Ross
Kleiza, Ed Davis, Amir Johnson
Valanciunas, Amir Johnson, Aaron Gray
Brian Colangelo can be called a lot of things, but I do not think stupid or out-of- tune with the media/public perception are two of those things. Colangelo certainly realizes that dealing Bargnani could help this power-forward heavy club and could really change what is written and said about him.
Maybe if things play out just right, the Raptors front office will exchange Bargnani for Iguodala or another useful wing...