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.

Comments (10)

  1. Yeah, but Carlisle was also quoted as saying Toronto has one of the best GMs in the league, so make of that what you will. Also thinks that Tanenbaum fella is a good owner too.

    I wouldn’t make much out of what Carlisle said. He had just suffered a blowout at the hands of currently one of the worst teams in the NBA. It kind of defies any rational explanation, so instead of talking about how your own team stank up the joint, why not heap a little praise in order to minimize just how terrible your own team was?

  2. Ugh. MLSE are a complete and utter joke!

  3. Its simple, fire the GM and trade Andrea.

  4. Great post.

    That Casey quote is hilarious. He’s basically trying to hit you over the head with what he’s trying to say without mentioning any specific names. I love that he even feels he has to clarify what he’s saying by adding “…and that’s not anything against anybody.” because he knows 98% of the people who heard the first part of his quote thought immediately of Bargnani.

    As much as I’d like the Carlisle quote to be a shot at BC, it’s probably not. He just sticks up for his guys. The last time the Raptors hired a Carlisle assistant (Kevin O’Neill), he was very complimentary of the move as well and was critical of the Raptors when they fired him. He’s just a loyal dude.

  5. Not sure why you attached Andrea’s name to Casey’s remarks. Personally I think he was talking about lots of players on the team. I have been watching the games and I can tell you that a lot of players are not making it on defence. DD, Lowry, Johnson, Davis, Jonas have all had their times when they have let the team down. Somehow these people are never referred to. Instead people harp on Calderon and Bargs. Both of these guys would land starting jobs on all but the elite teams so either that speaks to the level of the league or the TO “fans” who wouldn’t know a hoop from a block.

    • Totally agree with you, I understand there needs to be a change but taking one good defensive game and then saying how much better the team is without Andrea is ridiculous… No matter what Bryan thinks this teams talent level isn’t god enough to compete… Casey also needs top take some blame for this…. I can guarantee you once Andrea is gone and if the team keeps losing the next guy people are going to rip is Lowery right now as Andrea is taking most of the heat people don’t talk about his shot selection or defensive mishaps..and remember we Gave our pick to get Lowery thinking he will can be our go to guy down the stretch so far I haven’t seen that hopefully for his sake he starts playing better or he’ll new the next target

    • Yes, all the players have been to blame for having let the team down on defense, but there is one particular player who has done it more than any other. And I don’t see how you can suggest otherwise.

  6. Who cares if Vegetable Lasgana told the truth about this crappy team? The only problem with what he said is that he doesn’t recognize that he’s the #1 reason why it’s true.

  7. Come together. And since Casey came in it’s been about defence defence defence, we saw large improvements midway last season. It’s been a bad start to the season. Defence is fundamental and I noticed Casey went away from that with comments like, ‘whoever plays defence first tonight will win the game” whereas now he’s sayin we need to play defence. Which has been that way since the start of the season. I don’t know about BC though, talent not an issue? Leadership and ability to make game winning shots? Early in the season we lost plenty of one two possession games that came down to us not winning. Who’s our man? Or men? Not clear, consistently at the moment. My take from an occsasional viewer. Sorry, die-hards.

  8. Casey said the same things last year and there was no leash on Bargnani.

    I’ll have to wait and actually see it before I believe this is directed towards him.

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