Picking apart Andrea Bargnani’s flaws and proposing trade scenarios to get him the hell out of town is nothing new for Raptors fans, but the vitriol towards the big Italian has never been as strong as it is here in the early portion of 2012-13.
Between the tease of his impressive 13-game stretch at the beginning of last season, the fact that’s he’s now in his seventh NBA season, the fact that he seems to be rebounding and defending as bad as he ever has, the fact that the Raptors are 3-11 and the fact that there are other, younger players in Toronto (Valanciunas, Lowry, DeRozan, etc.) for fans to be excited about, it seems as though Raptors fans have finally had enough of the man Bryan Colangelo famously dubbed “the enigma of all enigmas.”
Among the plethora of hypothetical trade proposals out there (and that’s all they are, is hypothetical proposals put out there by fans and media members), you’ll find one constant – virtually every idea to get Bargnani out of Toronto ends with him in Los Angeles and Pau Gasol in Toronto.
A couple of weeks ago, it was Carefoot who kind of got the ball rolling on the matter, proposing Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon for Gasol and Chris Duhon. Michael Grange was thinking along the same lines, except he had Steve Blake coming to Toronto with Pau instead of Duhon accompanying the big man. Just do a twitter search or even a google search for “Bargnani Gasol” and you’ll be flooded with timelines and fan forums proposing the deal.
Most recently, Colin Cowherd of ESPN Radio proposed a trade that would send Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan to LaLa Land in exchange for Gasol. For the record, while I wasn’t a fan of the DeRozan extension, I still wouldn’t want to give him up for a couple of seasons of a declining Pau Gasol, but I would be heavily in favour of the Bargnani for Gasol swap in general.
Even if you had to throw in Calderon’s expiring contract and then had to take back a downgrade at the point in either Blake or Duhon, I probably still make the Bargnani/Gasol swap every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
The way he’s playing right now, Bargnani has reduced himself to little more than a floor-stretching three-point specialist, and even in a couple of declining seasons, the upgrade to Gasol would likely pay incredible dividends for the Raptors. Pau is an underrated defender and rebounder who can still be an offensive force for a few years, despite how he’s looked so far in 2012-13.
Sure, his field goal percentage has been in a nosedive for the last four seasons, but we’re still talking about a guy who averaged 17 and 10 last year to go with over three assists and more than a block per game. If you think he’s suddenly lost it all because of a bad start to this season, you’re dreaming. Maybe he’s not happy in L.A. anymore after a couple of years of being underused, or maybe it’s just taking him a while to get going, but to some degree, Pau’s a future Hall of Famer who “still has it” if you ask me.
And you know what? I think the Lakers know that too, which is why, despite Bargnani actually being a good fit in Mike D’antoni’s system, I just can’t see Mitch Kupchak making this move or Kobe Bryant allowing him to make it, and that’s likely where the pipe-dream ends.
For what it’s worth, Bargnani is owed $10 million this season, $10.75 million next season, and then has an early termination option before the last year of his contract, when he’ll be owed $11.5 million in 2014-15. Gasol has more than a whopping $38 million remaining on his contract over the next two seasons, but he has no options and his contract comes off the books after the 2013-14 season, when as Scott had mentioned, the Raptors might be thinking about extending Kyle Lowry.