Andrea Bargnani Waiting Out Trade Deadline
Toronto Raptors forward Andrea Bargnani, who missed almost two months this season with an injured elbow, is now back in the Toronto rotation just in time for the team to shop him aggressively ahead of the February 21st trade deadline.
After making a blockbuster move for Rudy Gay, the Raptors are reportedly entertaining offers for other players, and most of the more prominent rumors the team is involved in just so happen to involve Bargnani.
“Every day my name is next to a different team,” Bargnani said. “It’s something I can’t control because trades are just part of the NBA. If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen. All I can do is focus on what I do day-by-day, and right now my focus is on the Raptors, and it will be for as long as I’m here.”
The problem for Bargnani and his teammates is that nobody knows how long he actually will be there. Head coach Dwayne Casey is pressing on as though the former #1 overall pick will remain part of the team through the end of the season. He’s also not worried about the rumors affecting his play.
“Everybody in this league has been traded. The greats have been traded, so it’s a part of the business. I think it’s a compliment that your name is being brought up in trade scenarios,” Casey said. “It’s not something I think guys are sitting around worried, ‘Woe is me.’ You’ve got to play. You’ve got a job to do.”
And right now, Bargnani’s job is getting himself back into playing shape, which has proved challenging in his first three games since returning to the team. He missed Sunday’s game with flu-like symptoms, but in the two contests he has played in this month, Bargnani has averaged 13.5 ppg on 60% shooting from the field in somewhat limited minutes.
Despite that, he admits that he’s still working himself back to 100 percent.
“I wasn’t able to practice with the ball—shoot or dribble—for seven weeks, so of course, I’m out of rhythm and out of shape,” he said. “I did nothing with basketball for seven weeks, and it’s hard to come back from that.”
Coach Casey corroborated that, joking that Bargnani has been winded and a little slow to get himself back into his normal nightly work load.
“He’s getting the rust off, getting hit a couple of times and getting in the flow of things,” Casey said. “I thought he wore down as [his first game back] went on. I kept asking him, ‘Are you okay?’ And every time the answers got shorter and shorter and shorter… so it’s going to take time.”
It’s been a hard year, both for the Raptors and for Bargnani, but since the Gay trade things have really started to look up for them. Bargnani could help the team even more, either by chipping in the 15-18 points per game he’s been good for his entire career, or by acting as a major piece in a big trade that could net the Raps another big piece.
Whatever the team decides to do with him, Bargnani is waiting out the deadline, ready for either outcome.