As the Raptors’ official media release stated, “Based on tests taken yesterday on his left calf and the reoccurrence of previous symptoms, Bargnani will be sidelined to eliminate any further risk. ”
This is pretty cut and dry if you ask me. Bargnani looked phenomenal in 11 games before his calf acted up, looked just as good in two games upon his initial return to the lineup, but then looked way too much like his old self in the last 18 games he played.
The timing of shutting him down now is obviously beneficial for Bargnani and the Raptors in general. Whether you agree with it or not, Andrea figures to be a big part of the Raptors’ plans next season, and you don’t want him showing up to training camp in October with the same lingering calf problems haunting him for the next couple of years all because you played him in some absolutely meaningless games with your team already well eliminated from playoff contention.
In addition, teams like the Warriors, Cavaliers, Nets and Kings (not to mention the Hornets, Wizards and Bobcats) are giving new meaning to the work “tank,” and while I don’t think Bryan Colangelo and Dwane Casey would purposely lose games, I do think the organization is okay with games being a little tougher to win down the stretch, if you know what I mean.
Lastly, if you’re trying to sell Bargnani as an integral piece of the future to a fanbase that has largely grown tired of the big Italian, sitting him now leaves you with the opportunity to blame his decline on the persistent calf issues. At least one person from the organization this off-season is going to talk about how good Andrea looked before the injury set in. And who knows, maybe calf tightness really is what caused a revert back to his older ways (majorly wishful thinking)?
With minor issues (eye, knee and back) slightly hampering Jose Calderon, Linas Kleiza and Amir Johnson right now as well, the next seven games, especially games against the Pistons and Nets, might look more like an episode of Greatest Tank Battles.