Josh Smith, Amir Johnson

Full on speculation: Ettore Messina signed with the Lakers. Messina thinks highly of Andrea Bargnani. Andrea Bargnani isn’t as highly thought of by the Raptors. Raptors need a defensive center. Lakers have Andrew Bynum.

Water on speculation: Andrew Bynum is apparently untouchable in trade talks.

The Italian’s arrival in Los Angeles has automatically made the Raptors a potential trade partner, this on the heels of the Lakers being eliminated by Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks in a series where the mismatches posed by a 7-foot mobile center proved too much for the defending champions to overcome. The Lakers need re-tooling if they’re to return to the NBA finals, and there is dead weight lying around which they’ll be looking to move. That’s where Messina and his advisory role comes in, and it’s not ludicrous to suggest that he could try and sell them on Andrea Bargnani. Questions were asked of the Lakers offense and the old formula of having Kobe Bryant generate the points was failing, with nobody else filling the scoring void in good measure.

The Lakers could very well be interested in Bargnani, perhaps not as a starter since they already have Bynum, but as an offensive weapon in a limited role, which is what Bargnani’s true calling probably is. Messina is surely to at least bring up the possible fit of a mobile center in a movement-heavy offense, and could convince the Lakers that a true shooting big man could add a dimension to their offense that would relieve the pressure off Bryant. The apprehension in a possible deal would come from the Raptors’ end as they scan the Lakers’ tradeable assets and lose interest. You can scratch off Bryant, Bynum and Gasol, and the next best player is probably Lamar Odom. Odom had a disappointing series against the Mavericks on both ends of the floor, and was roundly criticized for his work against Nowitzki. He will be 32 by the time the season rolls around and doesn’t fit into the Raptors’ plans by a longshot, simply put, he’s too old.

The next tier of Lakers are Ron Artest, Matt Barnes, Steve Blake and the sort, the only person of any outside interest is Shannon Brown, and he looks to be a set role player in the league. Unless a third team comes around and helps the Raptors out, any deal with LA has no purpose in it for the Raptors. Andrew Bynum’s conduct in Game 4 against the Lakers didn’t win him any friends amongst the fans and the organization, but was it bad enough that it could put him on the trading block? According to the above-linked Yahoo piece it isn’t, unless Messina’s persuasive skills can convince Jerry Buss otherwise. If he managed to do it, would you do this (plus, there’s also the TPE to play with)?

Coach talk. Must have NBA “pedigree” is how Colangelo himself described the new hire, and that to me has whittled down this search to either Rick Adelman and Jeff Van Gundy. No disrespect to Mike Woodson, Lawrence Frank, Dwayne Casey or the freshly fired John Kuester. These times are very similar to the spring of 2005, when the Raptors franchise was looking for a touch of respectability and reached out for Bryan Colangelo. At the time the signing of Colangelo gave the sullen franchise a much-needed facelift, and injected it with a sense of direction and enthusiasm. Six years on the fragrance of Colangelo has worn off, even turned to bit of a stench, and here we are looking for another individual to revive and invigorate the club.

As much as the new coach should be about defense and commitment, it is equally important that he be an ambassador for the team, and possess league-wide recognition and respect. Remember, as of right now, the Raptors do not have a single player on the roster that any other NBA player will go out of their way to play for. The team is in a situation where it has to truly build something out of nothing, and if it is to attract a key free-agent or two in the near future, having a coach of a rich extraction will help. This is not a slight against the lesser experienced head coaches or some of the great assistants the league has to offer, it is merely a matter of trying something new. As mentioned before, five of the Raptors’ seven coaches have been rookies and other than Butch Carter and Sam Mitchell very briefly, none of them have quite worked out. You know what they say about doing the same think over and over again, right?

On that note, I bid you farewell. Last night was a truly craptastic one with the zit-faced rat hitting that jumper, would’ve loved to see the Mavs win and the diseased ostrich be blamed for passing up that open look. Oh well, the sun even shines on a dog’s ass sometimes.