It’s doubtful that Toronto has heard their best offer for Bargnani yet. As the deadline nears, teams that were looking to lowball the Raptors may opt to up their offers in order to push through a deal knowing how desperately Toronto wants to move on without him. If the Raptors can get a solid rotation player and a young prospect or draft pick for him without further demolishing their future cap flexibility they’ll probably jump at the chance. They won’t give him away, but they aren’t going to wait for a sweetheart of a deal that is never going to materialize, either. They are realistic, and while they don’t want to have to wait until summertime to move him, they will if the offers aren’t there this week.
I’ll warrant the suits are already salivating at the additional advertising and gate revenue they will realize now the Jays are a hot ticket. Bryan Colangelo, savvy businessman that he is, no doubt has challenged his corporate masters along these lines: “You allow me the same degree of open wallet that Paul Beeston and Alex Anthopoulos received, and I’ll deliver similar results. I can drive our revenue through the roof, not just from ticket sales [20 second timeout: the Raps attendance is 88.1% of capacity, well down from the vintage years of Air Canada Carter, though still respectable for a team with a losing record for years] but through playoff tickets and TV and internet revenue. With extra funds at my disposal, I’ll trade us into the playoffs…maybe not this season, but for many to come. So tell me now – can I break the budget like the Jays did?” I believe he got a positive reply, hence the sudden willingness to spend.
While Amir Johnson has impressed many this season by playing well as a starting power forward, Ilyasova would fit better with the current starting line-up. Both DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay are most effective when they drive to the basket, and the Raptors currently don’t have enough shooters on the floor to help draw defenders off of Toronto’s swingmen. Ilyasova has shot over 44% from beyond the arc this season, which means the Raptors would be able to space the floor much better with him on the court.
There are a million reasons not to take that comment at face value, chief among them that the Raptors are likely still trying to build some semblance of leverage after Colangelo set fire to their negotiating position in front of a national television audience. In fact, this news really changes nothing; Bargnani is still a candidate to be moved, and the Raps are undoubtedly still entertaining a number of possible trade scenarios involving him. This merely suggests that they aren’t happy with the offers they’ve seen so far and are gently nudging the market along with the trade deadline rapidly approaching. They may make a deal or they may not, but their preference to ditch the two years and $22.2 million remaining on Bargnani’s deal after this season hasn’t changed.
John Lucas III made a statement the last few games prior to the All-star break for the Toronto Raptors. Ironically, Lucas III wasn’t exactly campaigning for more playing minutes, although he probably wouldn’t object to it. But he was thriving at the game and giving the Raptors production they haven’t seen before from him. Rudy Gay is obviously having a good impact on everyone for Toronto since he joined the team. Lucas would attest to that.
He’s a seven-foot center who’s known for his ability to shoot the basketball. It’s just a shame that shooting the ball has been one of the many aspects of his game he’s struggled with when healthy this season. For the Raptors sake, if they choose to hold on to him for the rest of the year, they better hope and pray that he doesn’t kill his market value any more than he already has. I’m not closing the door on Andrea being dealt before Thursday, because of course, anything can happen in the NBA.
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