Andrea Bargnani is rested and finally healthy, still bitterly disappointed with how the last Raptor season unfolded and under no illusions about what awaits him this summer.
“Work,” the 7-foot forward said. “Lots of work. Getting better.”
Bargnani remains confounded by a season that could have been his best but instead turned into his worst. He was like a re-born big man at times, aggressive on defence and as effective as usual on offence before losing more than half of the abbreviated season to a series of left calf injuries.
He has been doing rehab and training, getting back to normal in Toronto, since the season ended (“I’ve been around the city, I have a few friends here, I really enjoy Toronto,” he said) and he’s back to 100 per cent.
“No more treatment to do,” he said. “It’s good to be 100 per cent again so I can start to work this summer.”
The enthusiasm in Bargnani’s voice is palpable in a short telephone conversation. He talks about almost constant contact with Raptors director sports science Alex McKechnie to keep his training regimen going and a constant dialogue with head coach Dwane Casey.
There is disappointment when Bargnani talks about last season; it dissipates quickly when the conversation switches to next year.
“The feelings for last year are the same but I am really positive about next season, I wish we could start tomorrow,” he said.
If he can fit it into his schedule — and there are a few tugs on his time back in his homeland — the Italian hopes to at least make an appearance at a mini-camp the Raptors will hold for free agents in Las Vegas before the team’s July appearance at the summer league.
Bargnani, if he goes, will join a host of Raptors veterans who will get some individual workouts in with members of the team’s coaching and training staffs, a key component to an off-season program the franchise was robbed of a year ago thanks to the prolonged NBA lockout.
It will be a good leg up on next fall’s training camp, the first time Casey will have a full month before the season to work with the team.
It remains to be seen, of course, who might be on that team. Toronto will get an idea of its draft prospects after Wednesday’s lottery, general manager Bryan Colangelo could be active in July’s free agent market and trade talks are sure to heat up.
Bargnani isn’t about to suggest what kind of specific improvements he wants to see.
“I’m just glad that’s not my job,” he said. “I don’t think about it; everybody has to trust and have confidence in Bryan.”
And Colangelo can work some magic this summer like he did on his first year on the job — when he added nine new faces and saw the team’s win total leap from 27 one year to 47 the next — Bargnani can spend next spring doing something more than working out and hanging with friends.
“I watch the playoffs, it’s been a long time and I’m always reminded of what it was like,” he said. “I’m reminded every day of what a great feeling that is and I want it again.”