Wednesday, May 25, 2011

And the next Raptor to leave town is...

Andrea Bargnani's recent comments to Italy's Sky Sports, where the former number one pick answered a question about which NBA city he would choose to play for if given the chance to rub a magic lamp and have his wish granted.

"I want to stay in Toronto, at least this is the politically correct answer," Bargnani told Sky Sports in Italian. "If [I am] to go somewhere else, I'd like a warm climate city and a team where I can actually play my role."

After shining the spotlight on Bargnani's comments, Toronto Star columnist Dave Feschuk joined Cybulski and Company on TSN RADIO 1050 on Tuesday afternoon to elaborate.

"The thing about translations is you can interpret what he said in Italian a number of different ways," explained Feschuk. "Speaking to different people around the NBA today, there was some feeling, and I interpret most of it as damage control, that what he said hadn't been all that inflammatory."

In his column on Tuesday, Feschuk stated that the translation was confirmed by the journalist who did the original interview with Bargnani, Alessandro Mamoli.

Bargani suggesting that he may be interested in leaving for a warmer climate isn't exactly a new script for the Raptors, who have watched one star after another leave the team. The most recent example came during last year's off-season when Chris Bosh joined the Miami Heat.

Feschuk told Cybulski and Company that he spoke with Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo on Tuesday, and that Colangelo wasn't happy about the comments.

This comes on the heels of Colangelo's season-ending press conference, where he openly discussed Bargnani's skills.

"I don't know if he's ever going to be a better defensive player than he is," asked Colangelo at the news conference. "Can he be a better rebounder? Absolutely.

"We know he can rebound, but he doesn't focus on it... That's a desire thing. And that's something he's going to have to come to grips with."

Bargnani addressed Colangelo's critiques in his Sky Sports interview, saying that "[Colangelo] had made some unfortunate and not very courageous comments about me."

Bargnani is coming off a season where he averaged a career-high 21.4 points per game, while adding 5.2 rebounds per game, but the Raptors (22-60) finished the year with the third worst record in the NBA.

"The Raptors did quietly open the door to trading Bargnani this year," said Feschuk. "That was a non-starter in previous years with Bryan Colangelo, because he had a lot at stake with Bargnani, because basically picking Bargnani was his first real, official act as Toronto's general manager or certainly his most significant act as Toronto's general manager in the early days.

"You've always got the sense that Colangelo really wants Bargnani to work out in Toronto and he's been very adamant about not trading him, but that's changed."

Bargnani has five years left on his contract, which will pay him an average of $10-million per season.


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