No More Pasta and Sauce – Ciao, Bargnani

Andrea Bargnani is like having the same meal for dinner every single night. After a while, you get tired of it. In this case, he is Primo Pasta AND Sauce. The Raptors finally did something about this redundant dinner and got out the salami and cheese instead.

Let’s go back to 2006 and the NBA Draft Lottery. The Toronto Raptors had an 8.8% chance of winning the lottery and receiving the 1st overall pick. Well, they won the lottery and selected from Italy, Andrea Bargnani. Seven years later, Bargnani has been traded. Thank you, Masai Ujiri, thank you.

Much like this year’s draft, the 2006 draft was very weak in terms of talent. Even though there did not appear to be a superstar in the draft, most people agreed that Bargnani should be the 1st pick. He drew comparisons to Dirk Nowitzki and that helped build his case as a formidable pick at the top of a weak draft. So, the Raptors took him and I can’t blame them.

Seven years later, I look at how this draft turned out and there are only a handful of guys that I would want on my team today. They are LaMarcus Aldridge (2nd), Rudy Gay (8th), Rajon Rondo (21st), and Paul Millsap (47th). Everyone else is either a role player or is no longer in the NBA, that is how bad this draft class was. Now, sure the Raptors could have taken Aldridge, but Bargnani was the guy that made most sense at the time. Fine, whatever. Chicago took Aldridge 2nd and then sent him to Portland. Portland also acquired Brandon Roy in that draft. They easily won this draft as Roy and Aldridge are two of only three All-Stars to come from this class (Rondo being the other).

Rudy Gay was taken 8th – at the time it would have been a stretch to take him #1. Fine. He’s on the Raptors today anyways so I can’t complain. Rondo was taken at 21 by Phoenix, but they had Steve Nash running the point for many more seasons. So Rondo was traded to Boston. He was a late 1st-round pick that turned into a superstar. No chance the Raptors could have predicted that. Then there is Millsap who was taken 47th. Everyone passed on him, can’t fault the Raptors.

So, drafting Bargnani was fine. I can’t bash the pick – it was a weak draft. I’m glad the Raptors didn’t end up with Adam Morrison, Randy Foye, Shelden Williams, or Tyrus Thomas. I can only imagine the commercials they would’ve been forced into. Bargnani actually won the Raptors some games, despite what his critics might say.

This all brings us to July 1, 2013 and word that the Raptors and Knicks have agreed to the following deal:

To New York: Andrea Bargnani

To Toronto: Marcus Camby, Steve Novak, Quentin Richardson, 1st round pick in 2016, 2 2nd round picks.

Marcus Camby started his career with Toronto in 1996 and I am certainly glad to see him back in town. What he can do for the team at age 39 remains to be seen. If he is past his foot injury, which forced him to miss most of the season last year, then I believe he can still contribute on the court defensively. If nothing else, he is a tremendous mentor for Jonas Valanciunas.

Steve Novak was picked in the 2nd round of the 2006 Draft by Houston. He was a fan favourite in New York who could knock down three pointers with ease. He didn’t receive a lot of playing time because of the players ahead of him on the depth chart, so it will be interesting to see how much his minutes increase in Toronto. He reminds me of Jason Kapono. I wasn’t fond of Kapono’s time in Toronto. But Novak is 6’10 and his career averages in the NBA make him a potent shooter off the bench. He could be intriguing.

Quentin Richardson – Meh. Just meh. His career has been trending downwards for a while. He played one game last season. He wasn’t included in the initial trade which was rejected by the NBA. So basically he is just there for his salary to even out the trade. I don’t expect him to be with the Raptors very long, and if he is, his contributions on the court will be very minimal. He won’t get minutes ahead of DeRozan, Ross, and Gay.

Draft Picks: If the Raptors traded Bargnani for only a 1st rounder and 2 2nd rounders, I would’ve been extremely happy. Many people didn’t think getting a first round pick was even a remote possibility, but it happened. Obviously New York is assuming they will be near the top of the league in 2016, which would make their 1st round pick a late selection. Even if it is a pick in the 20s, it is an asset to the Raptors that they can use in trades in the future.

I love the trade. I’m shocked that it is a better return than what Vince Carter got us and Carter was a top 10 player in the league at the time. Ohhh Rob Babcock, you set the Raptors back 3 years with that trade. Eric Williams, Aaron Williams, Alonzo Mourning, and a 1st round pick that turned into Joey Graham. Mourning never even took a plane to Toronto. Graham was awful. The Williams’ were equally awful. Just a pathetic trade. Easily the worst trade in NBA history. What makes it worse is that Carter had changed his mind and was willing to stay in Toronto, but Babcock didn’t want to go back on a verbal agreement that would ultimately get him fired and trade away the best player in franchise history for essentially nothing. Man, I’m still mad about that trade and it’s almost been a decade.

Back to Barney. Yes, the big purple dinosaur. I had grown tired of Bargnani’s shenanigans. He still cannot rebound. He is 7 feet tall and is perfectly fine with standing out by the 3-point line. I don’t like it. I never liked it. I’m glad I don’t have to see it again. The point guard, shooting guard, and small forward should be the ones shooting from the outside while the power forward and centre should be inside the paint. I am tired of the phrase “spread the floor”. I don’t care that Bargnani lures interior defenders outside of the paint. That means nothing when Bargnani averages 12 points per game.

I am also thrilled that I never have to see a Primo Pasta commercial starring Andrea Bargnani ever again. “Andrea needs to eat right….blah blah blah”. NO. What Andrea needs to do is rebound the basketball and lay off the packaged pasta. I like pasta. Personally, it makes me tired. If Andrea is chowing down on a nice plate of penne with some parmesan sprinkled on top, I would think that that might slow him down. But, that’s just me. A part of me feels bad for the people at Primo. They thought the commercial would be a hit and people would be talking about it. Well, people are talking….about how much they hate it. And that is how an athlete endorsement can sometimes be negative.

I still can’t believe Ujiri pulled this trade off. He did the same thing in Denver. He traded Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks. Thank you New York, you will hate Bargnani. New York likes hard working, scrappy players with tattoos and weird haircuts. Bargnani doesn’t even come close to that. They thought they didn’t like Danilo Gallinari? Well just wait Knicks fans. You are in for a treat.

So now the Raptors front court consists of Amir Johnson, Jonas Valanciunas, Marcus Camby, Steve Novak, and Quincy Acy. In all honesty, that sucks. Novak is more of a SF. Acy won’t get many minutes again this year. Amir is best suited to come off the bench. JV can be a star, but I don’t think that can be expected of him next year. Camby is old with nagging injuries. The Raptors need another big man, preferably a starting power forward. With word that Golden State might be looking to trade David Lee, that is the guy I would go after. I would give up anyone and everything, except Valanciunas and next year’s 1st round pick. If we need to trade Gay or DeRozan, I’d do it in a second.

I read a rumour that if Dwight Howard decides to go to Golden State, they could give up Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes in a sign-and-trade with the Lakers. IF they do that, DeRozan or Gay fill the hole and Lee is a Raptor. That is a bunch of what-ifs, but I’d love to see it happen.

The Raptors roster still needs serious improvements and this is only the beginning. I like what I see, or rather, don’t see, so far.

Goodbye Primo Pasta, what else is on the menu?

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About Paul

This is the part where I'm supposed to write something interesting about myself and you'll read it and think, "That's not that interesting." So let's not do that and just think about pizza instead, on the count of three. One, two, three. Donuts. Now, wasn't that interesting?
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