Bargnani may have surpassed Boozer in the unpopularity contest. He's shooting 37 percent, his free throws have dropped off, and he has somehow regressed on the boards and as a help defender. The cries to dump Bargnani get louder with each late-game Toronto collapse, the latest of which featured Jrue Holiday blowing by Bargnani on a switch and hitting Jason Richardson for a clutch 3.
But the Raptors scored at a bottom-three rate without Bargnani last season, and a big man with legit 3-point range that can be deployed at high volumes is enormously valuable simply for floor spacing.
Which brings us back to context and defense. Bargnani's a liability on the latter front, outside of some decent one-on-one post defense, and the context is changing in Toronto. Kyle Lowry is a borderline All-Star who can penetrate the defense, and DeMar DeRozan, flashing an improved post game, can at least tread water as a no. 1 option in Lowry's injury-related absence. Jonas Valanciunas will get better down low. Bargnani's contract is amnesty-eligible, and he has two years left after this one at a relatively affordable price.
So there you have it. His name is being spoken around the league. How you like that?