Fairly or unfairly, a lot of Raptors fans assumed Jay Triano was either too “soft” with players, too intimidated by Bryan Colangelo or too in over his head to succeed as an NBA head coach. Another thing most Raptors fans are in agreement on is that despite his exceptional natural talents, Andrea Bargnani doesn’t have the will to ever be a good rebounder, a good help-defender or therefore an All Star caliber player.

None of us are around the team every day, and even accredited members of the media will never know what really transpires on the inside, within the Raptors team and overall organization. So none of us can deduce beyond a reasonable doubt whether these assumptions are true or untrue.

But today, in a Grantland piece by Jonathan Abrams that documented a week in New Jersey Nets training camp (thanks to RaptorBlog founder and editor Scott Carefoot for making me aware of this on twitter), P.J. Carlesimo might have shed a bit of light on both Triano and Bargnani.

After being told about an idea that would allow the Nets guards to crash the boards while the bigs made a dash up the floor, Carlesimo, who served as an assistant under Triano last season, had this to say, according to Abrams:

That’s what I wanted to do with [Andrea] Bargnani last year, but [former Raptors coach Jay] Triano wouldn’t let me,” Carlesimo says. “He said it was demeaning. At least our smalls had a chance of getting the rebound.

If you see a stalled TTC bus anywhere in the city today, you might want to make sure Jay Triano and Andrea Bargnani aren’t under it.

Whether Carlesimo realized he was throwing Triano and Bargnani under the bus or not, those words were said, according to Abrams, before a coaches’ meeting, in front of a reporter no less. Carlesimo obviously felt strongly enough about this to warrant saying it in this setting.

As Scott pointed out, it’s tough to determine who’s being roasted more here, Jay or Andrea. None the less, it’s a revealing quote.

But what does it really tell us?

Well if Carlesimo’s statement is true, Triano either didn’t necessarily value everything Carlesimo suggested, or he was really, really careful about what he said to Andrea Bargnani. Which brings us to the next point: Either Triano was too soft on Andrea or Bargnani is too easily offended.

I don’t think it’s demeaning to ask a big to do this once in a while as part of a set counter-attack. If you’re telling him he should always defer to a smaller guard to grab a rebound, then that’s demeaning, but I feel like Bargnani would be psyched to hear that it’s one less play he has to get dirty on.

As for P.J.’s closing quote, well that’s all on Bargs. “At least our smalls had a chance of getting the rebound.” There is nothing secretive or hidden left to read into here. Carlesimo is merely expressing what a lot of people already believed, and that’s that Andrea Bargnani is incapable of rebounding.

In this setting, whether Andrea can’t rebound or can and just doesn’t want to (I believe the latter) doesn’t matter. You have a respected NBA coach who has been around for years saying he has more faith in a much smaller guard coming up with a rebound than he does a seven-footer.

This added line makes PJ’s whole statement much more insulting for Bargnani than it is for Triano. At least you could argue that Jay was trying to keep his players happy, that he just didn’t believe in the play from an X’s and O’s standpoint or that he thought it was a no-no within the organization to slight Bryan Colangelo’s No. 1 overall pick. What can we say to excuse Carlesimo’s opinion of Bargnani’s rebounding ‘skills?’


Whether Carlesimo’s comments pick up steam in Toronto basketball circles or within the Raptors organization is yet to be determined, but for those who do find and read the Carlesimo quote, it’s perhaps the most damning indication of Triano and Bargnani’s relationship, outside of complaints from fans, yet.

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Comments (14)

  1. Where is the grey box with the quotations from the original source. THIS IS HORRIBLE!

    • JD, I may not have a grey box in there, but I linked to the original Grantland article by Jonathan Abrams, used the author’s name, and made it clear that this quote was coming from Abrams’ piece, not from me.

  2. Juicy, maybe, but there is some context missing. PJ and the Raptors parted company under mysterious circumstances. A couple of Triano assistants were retained, and Jay is a VP in the organization, but not PJ. He got turfed. It’s possible PJ has an axe to grind here and embarrass the Raptors. That’s why he made the comment knowing there was a reporter there. Not to say there isn’t substance to his remarks, but in conventional journalism, this background would be a required part of the story.

  3. Maybe I am missing something, but this seems like a pretty tame quote. Carlisemo wanted to do something and Triano didn’t. Sure that happens between coaches all the time.

    My guess is he brought up Bargnani, because there is a similarity between Lopez and him, being 7 footers that can’t rebound.

    maybe I am missing the underlying sentiment, but doesn’t seem like an inflammatory comment to me.

    • “He said it was demeaning. At least our smalls had a chance of getting the rebound.”

      I think that says it all.

  4. “This Is Just Too Juicy?” Looking this deep into a two-sentance quote hardly gives any insight into what the original thesis of this piece questions. The fact of the matter is that Bargnani is a one-trick pony that lives and dies on the offensive end of the court. If I were a Raptor fan, there’s no way I would want Bargnani in a position to get a board in the first place – the guy plays with the heart and tenacity of a frightened kitten – I’d rather have a pack of gritty smalls determined to grab a board. Instead of wondering about what transpires on the inside or whether this piece will “pick up steam,” you should be focused on why the Raptors fan base is so complacent in accepting Collengelo’s pathetic management and look at the quote as just another reason why Bargnani should be long gone.

  5. He has to be moved for this team to truly rebuild. We’ve already got a glut in the front court with Davis and Johnson which will only be made more worse by Val coming over next season and that’ll give us three players more suited to play power forward or center than Bargnani.

    However, at least one or two of them will have their development time cut short just so Colangelo’s freak science experiment can continue to waste the organization’s time. We’re 5+ years in, he is what he is.

  6. This is huge.

    Carlesimo basically ousts Triano as a company man. What’s the big deal in that? That the company line is “make sure Bargnani looks as good as possible” as opposed “make sure this team plays as well as possible”

    This is a major problem. Although for people like me, we already surmised that this was going on a long time ago.

    • Well, it doesn’t actually do anything. It’s a small quote that can be interpreted in several different ways. It’s no surprise that the coaches think he can’t rebound. If 5 years of history doesn’t tell you that, nothing will.

  7. This just proves that BC is forcefully demanding the coaches to play Andrea. It started with Sam. Sam Mitchell was forced to play Andrea and he continued to complain about playing him (especially at centre) because he was a defensive liability. The raptors didnt have a bad record and the fired him. So i say to you, what is BC’s agenda? Many of the players were born outside of the states making Toronto the cliche “European Team”.

    I believe BC made a mistake. He drafted Andrea. He is too proud to say he made a mistake so he’s continuing to justify the kid. He is NOT a PF. He is a Centre. But now because of pride hes going to stunt the growth of Ed Davis and Amir Johnson by giving Andrew PF mins. AND YES IT DOES MATTER what positions they play. It has to do with the defensive and offensive sets.

    It is time to rid this wrong and trade Andrea. Next year’s draft has promising kids. its time to go through the draft. Trade Andrea and another asset for a first rounder. Jonas is coming in (not to high on him but meh) lets START over, ANDREA is not the answer.

    DRAFT is The answer!!

  8. Just to be fair, Robin Lopez averaged 8 rebounds or more his first two seasons in the league, he just had a bad rebounding year last year. Bargnani has never even shown us if he can average 7 rebounds a game.

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