By Rob Mahoney
Just hours after the news broke that the Raptors had acquired Rudy Gay in a trade with the Grizzlies, Toronto general manager Bryan Colangelo made his next move clear. While joining the Raptors' broadcast team for some nationally televised (via NBA TV) in-game chatter, Colangelo explicitly noted that he would be shopping Andrea Bargnani and said that the disappointing forward "... would not fight or resist a [new] situation."
Since then, Bargnani has been connected specifically to the Bulls in a potential swap for Carlos Boozer, and mentioned in a number of hypothetical scenarios born of the trade machine. It's clear that the Raptors have every intention of moving on, but the latest update from Doug Smith of the Toronto Star suggests that a deal may come later rather than sooner:
Word from the executives I talked to over the weekend here and by electronic methods, all suggested there’s not an awful lot of trade activity percolating right now, which we all know can change at the drop of a hat.
The big one, of course, is Bargnani and one note I got this weekend simply said:
“Looks like the summer.”
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.
It also doesn't hurt that the Raptors aren't exactly in a rush. Toronto is a full six games behind the eighth-place Bucks in the Eastern Conference standings, making their immediate playoff chances a longshot. They acquired Gay with the intent of building around him, so they can afford to bide their time as they wait for the right offer to come along rather than jump on the first halfway-decent proposal. Regardless, Bargnani is on his way out, and whether he's forced to pack his backs in the coming week or a few months down the line seems to rest solely on the quality of the pitches presented.