As you’re probably aware by now, Andrea Bargnani passionately clarified his scrutinized Italian comments today, stating that he was misquoted on certain things, specifically his quote about the Raptors being the worst team in the NBA. To be honest, from my basic comprehension of Italian, it seems it was more a case of things being lost in translation to English than it was a situation of a reporter making things up.
While Bargnani’s quick response is appreciated, it really doesn’t change anything. I didn’t take issue with him referring to the Raptors as the worst team in the NBA or one of the worst teams in the NBA, or whatever he says he said to La Gazzetta dello Sport. I took issue with his claim that he’s improved every year (since he’s playing some of the worst basketball of his career in year seven) and the closing remarks attributed to him.
But that’s besides the point. If Andrea was hard done by and misrepresented in the printed interview, he should take action to hold those responsible accountable, but from the Raptors’ perspective, nothing changes in the grand scheme of things. Whatever was or wasn’t said in this mysterious Italian interview doesn’t change the fact that he’s worn out his welcome here or that he clearly doesn’t fit with the identity and culture change the team continues to strive for under Dwane Casey.
And while we’re on that topic, let’s try to read between the lines of Dwane Casey’s post-game comments from Friday evening after an impressive defensive display that resembled the effort he consistently got out of his charges last season.
“…I got away from it, but again, from now on, it’s going to be about that. Closing out the touch, multiple efforts, and we got that tonight, no matter who was on the floor. If you don’t do it, no matter who you are, you don’t stay on the floor. It’s got to be that way, and that’s not anything against anybody, but for us to build, continue to get better, win or lose, it’s got to be that way.”
I’m not going to put words in coach Casey’s mouth, and I’ll admit that this is simply my interpretation, but I also know that I’m not alone among Raptors fans who think those comments were said with Bargnani in mind. Even the way Casey stresses “it’s got to be that way” shortly after talking about getting away from the defensive discipline he instituted last season makes you wonder if he’s admitting that it hasn’t necessarily been that way so far this year, you know, kind of like the way we’ve been complaining that Casey’s defensive mentality should have landed Bargs on the bench more than a few times through the first quarter of the season.
At the very least, I hope that’s what Casey meant, though I’ll hold off fully believing it until I actually see Bargnani riding the pine when it’s deserved.
On that note, there are plenty of Raptors fans who still believe Bryan Colangelo had some influence on various coaches sticking with Bargnani, and it’s something Drew even brought up during this week’s podcast. We’ll obviously never really know if that was ever the case, but if it was, then perhaps Casey’s comments are also directed towards those (potentially Colangelo?) who think he should stick with Andrea through thick and thin.
My favourite Raptors-related soundbite of the last few days didn’t come from Casey, though. It also didn’t come from Bargnani or from any of Colangelo’s media calls this past week. In fact, it didn’t come from anybody within the Raptors organization. It came from Mavericks coach and former Casey colleague Rick Carlisle, who had this to say after Friday’s blowout loss in Toronto:
“After tonight, it’s very, very clear that whatever problems the Raptors franchise have is completely unrelated to coaching because Dwane Casey is doing a great job with a roster that’s beat up. I just have so much respect for him.”
If you believe that Colangelo’s comment about this not being a talent issue last weekend was a shot at Casey – and it’s hard not to believe that, no matter what Colangelo said afterwards – then Carlisle’s comments seem to be a bit of a shot at Bryan, no?
Perhaps I’m just reading too much into a guy coming to his former assistant’s defence, but I really get the feeling that whatever good reputation MLSE has among NBA higher ups would take a hit if the organization allowed Colangelo to fire Casey. I assume that the general belief around the Association is that Casey hasn’t had a fair shot yet, and that this mess is on B.C. a hell of a lot more than it is on D.C.
I’d agree with that sentiment.