Rudy Gay was just the beginning.
Though dealing for a star forward would seem to be enough for an oft-neglected team such as the Toronto Raptors, general manager Bryan Colangelo and company aren't done. More moves are still to come.
Who's got next?
Colangelo told NBA TV he's shopping Andrea Bargnani. Has talked with agent about moving him, but won't just trade him to trade him.— Eric Koreen (@ekoreen) January 31, 2013
Consider this Colangelo's attempt to undo one of his many mistakes (see Landry Fields, Linas Kleiza, etc.).
Few believed that Bargnani was worth the five-year, $50 million contract extension Toronto handed him in 2009. More than two years into the extension, one would be hard-pressed to argue otherwise.
Not only has Bargnani proved to be a wildly inefficient scorer, but his rebounding and defense, and pretty much everything else, also leave much to be desired. That he has appeared in just 52 games between last year and this one (so far) isn't helping either.
As such, with the Raptors staring down the barrel of massive salary commitments after landing Gay, they will set out to find a suitor before the NBA's trade deadline. Which teams might be willing to assume the three years and $30 million left on Bargs' deal? Better yet, which of those are somewhat palpable fits and factions that he can help?
In an age where the new CBA breeds financial trepidation, dealing Bargnani isn't going to be easy, but it is still possible.
*All stats used in this article were compiled from Basketball-Reference, Synergy Sports and 82games.com, unless otherwise noted.
Chicago Bulls Get: C Andrea Bargnani (Toronto), SG Wilson Chandler (Denver) and C Timofey Mozgov (Denver)
Denver Nuggets Get: SG Richard Hamilton (Chicago) and SF Landry Fields (Toronto)
Toronto Raptors Get: PF Carlos Boozer (Chicago)
I'm not completely for this one, but I'm not against it either.
Chicago is known to be looking for a shooting guard, and Denver has shown a willingness to rid itself of Wilson Chandler's five-year, $37 million pact. Chandler wouldn't compromise the defensive ideals of the Bulls and also stands to improve upon their 26th-ranked offense (93.6 points per game).
Despite Boozer's improved play, he's owed more than $47 million over the next three years. Bargnani is owed just $30 million and could prove to valuable upon Derrick Rose's return. Surrounding Rose with shooters he can drive-and-kick to would be an avenue worth exploring. Timofey Mozgov would also help fill the rebounding void left by Boozer and comes off the books this year.
For Denver, they would get to move Chandler in favor of a veteran scorer like Hamilton, who can come off the payroll (team option) after this season. The Bulls have shopped him previously and might be intrigued by the fresher athleticism of Chandler.
Fields might be a tough sell, but if the Nuggets part ways with Hamilton, they'd be taking on $25 million over the life of each incoming contract—$12 million less than Chandler's five-year deal. Toronto's underachieving small forward might also fare better in a more free-flowing, unselfish offense in Denver, much like he did with the New York Knicks.
One of the keys to this deal would be Toronto's willingness to take on Boozer. His contract is viewed as one of the worst in the league, but he provides instant scoring in the post and can rebound in bunches. The Raptors rank 28th in the league in boards per game (28) and would definitely welcome his ability to grab eight or more a night.
While Boozer is expensive, if Toronto can push Fields on Denver (even if it takes a first-round pick), they actually stand to save about $5 million over the next three years.
Of course, this all hinges on the Bulls' willingness to accept Bargnani. Though he is cheaper than Boozer, they can't amnesty him like they can Boozer.
Houston Rockets Get: C Andrea Bargnani
Toronto Raptors Get: C Cole Aldrich and PF Marcus Morris
According to Chad Ford on ESPN.com, the Rockets are in the market for a big man of sorts. Bargnani isn't your conventional tower, yet that could be a good thing in Houston.
The Rockets like to run, and alongside the perpetual rim attacks of James Harden and Jeremy Lin, Bargnani could serve as a great kick-out option, deepening a rotation that already boasts the sharpshooting stylings of Chandler Parsons and Carlos Delfino.
Houston has the cap space to make this work, and while it wouldn't help their defense, no one man can.
If you're the Raptors, you simply pull the trigger on this because you save a pile of money. Cole Aldrich's deal expires after this season and Marcus Morris is still on his rookie deal.
That said, an athletic forward could be of major use in Toronto. Coming off the bench behind Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas, Morris would provide some much-needed rebounding. He's also got a nice touch around the basket and can even step out and hit three.
Depending on how keen Houston is or isn't on Bargnani, the Raptors could also toss in a first-rounder that the Rockets could use in pursuit of another game-changer.
Boston Celtics Get: C Andrea Bargnani (Toronto), SG Raja Bell (Utah) and PF Paul Millsap (Utah)
Toronto Raptors Get: PF Brandon Bass (Portland) and SF Jeremy Evans (Utah)
Utah Jazz Get: SF Paul Pierce (Celtics) and future first-round pick (Toronto)
The Celtics need prolific size and three-point shooting, and that's what they would acquire here. Boston considered dealing Pierce prior to Rajon Rondo's torn ACL, and would be wise to do so again if it means snagging Millsap.
Given the interest the Celtics had previously shown in Josh Smith, it's far from a stretch to believe they'd be interested in the two-way stylings of Millsap. In him, they'd have a capable big who can rebound, defend and score from anywhere on the floor.
Bargnani's presence (believe it or not) would also be of value. Boston ranks 28th in three-point shooting percentage (33.2), and despite Bargs' struggles this season, he's shot 36.2 percent from beyond the arc for his career.
Why take him on?
Well, for one, it helps prolong the life of this Celtics squad when Rondo returns. And two, Boston needs Toronto to send a first-round pick over to the Jazz to make it worth their while. Though it's believed that Utah will deal either Millsap or Al Jefferson, it's important it receives picks in any deal.
Aside from picks, though, Pierce would be a great fit with the Jazz. Not only is their offense mediocre, but only $4 million of Pierce's $15.3 million salary is guaranteed next year. He would help them fend for a playoff spot this season and could prove valuable next year as well, either as a mentor or trade chip.
While the Raptors can maintain they won't just trade Bargnani to trade him, they need to save money. This deal does just that while also giving them some interior help in Brandon Bass. He's undersized for the power forward spot, but he can rebound and defend in the paint far better than Bargnani ever could.
Toronto avoided relinquishing a first-round pick in the Gay trade, but if the team is serious about moving Bargnani and his poisonous contract, it won't be so lucky here.
Brooklyn Nets Get: C Andrea Bargnani
Toronto Raptors Get: PF Kris Humphries
Just go with me on this one.
Humphries' annual salary of $12 million is more than Bargnani's ($10 million), but his contract only runs through next season.
After shipping out Ed Davis in the Rudy Gay trade, the Raptors are also in need of some extra assistance in the post. Jonas Valanciunas' return will help some, but per TeamRankings.com, Toronto ranks 27th in points allowed in the paint per game (44.1). The team also ranks 28th in rebounds (40) grabbed and 23rd in points allowed (99.9) per game.
Though Humphries' stats have dropped off considerably (6.3 points and 6.6 rebounds per game), he averaged a double-double only last season and immediately provides the size, defense and rebounding the Raptors need more than ever.
It's worth noting that his offensive horizons are greater than that of Amir Johnson's as well. He's not as athletic, but his range is superior. And given that his then-expiring contract becomes a valuable trade chip to deal next season, he presents a low-risk, high-reward scenario for Toronto.
Can the same be said of Bargnani for the Nets? Some would consider this a raw deal for Brooklyn, but it honestly is not. Humphries has not been a pivotal factor this season, and while Bargnani's contract extends a year longer, it only costs the spendthrift Mikhail Prokhorov an extra $6 million by its conclusion.
I'm also of the mind Bargnani can help the Nets. Brooklyn ranks 17th in points scored per game (95.8) and 22nd in three-point percentage (34.8). Bargs has proved to be instant offense, and though he's shooting just 31.9 percent from deep this season, he's at 36.2 percent for his career.
Of course, Bargnani won't do much for the Nets defense, but they are already fifth in points allowed per game (94.7). Their offensive attack is what needs the most help and he is the type of floor spacer who can open up the lane for Joe Johnson and Deron Williams' rim attacks.
Per Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio, Brooklyn is looking for just that type of player to enhance their offensive scheme, having previously taken a look at Paul Millsap and Gay himself.
Bargnani doesn't present that level of status, but he is (at least partly) what the Nets are looking for and would deserve at least a look once he returns from his elbow injury.
Los Angeles Lakers Get: C Andrea Bargnani (Toronto) and PF Paul Millsap (Utah)
Minnesota Timberwolves Get: SG Alan Anderson (Toronto) and PF Pau Gasol (Los Angeles)
Toronto Raptors Get: PG Chris Duhon (Los Angeles), C Greg Stiemsma (Minnesota) and PF Derrick Williams (Minnesota)
Utah Jazz Get: PG J.J. Barea (Minnesota), C Nikola Pekovic (Minnesota) and future first-round pick (Toronto)
Beginning with the Lakers, Bargnani isn't worth giving up Gasol, no matter how unhappy the latter is—unless he's paired with Paul Millsap. The Jazz are believed to be ridding themselves of either Millsap or Al Jefferson (or both), and the Lakers would welcome the former's ability to defend and score from anywhere on the court.
Though Bargnani isn't the most ideal of additions, he can shoot the deep ball and be a valuable floor spacer off the bench for a Los Angeles team that still plays one-in, four-out. His contract runs three more years, but the Lakers should be able to trade him heading into the free agency frenzy of 2014, because his deal will expire after the following year.
Moving onto the Timberwolves, they've coveted Gasol for quite some time and have even tried to pry him from the Lakers this season.
Pekovic is bound to get paid this summer, and it's not going to be by Minnesota, so the team will gladly deal him. David Kahn and company are known to be shopping Williams as well, so that shouldn't be an issue.
Barea may seem like overkill, but the Timberwolves have plenty of players who can run the point in Ricky Rubio, Luke Ridnour and even Alexey Shved. I doubt they'd balk at parting ways with him when it means landing Gasol, either.
On Toronto's end, they get a promising prospect in Williams who can help their suddenly thin low-post rotation. The three-man rotation he would form with Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas would be one of the more versatile post attacks in the league.
Stiemsma and Duhon aren't ideal additions, but Stiemsma has a team option after this year and Duhon's deal expires after next season. Having a veteran to help anchor the point guard core wouldn't hurt either.
I'm sure the Raptors wouldn't want to part ways with a first-rounder, but to trade Bargnani it's necessary. This deal saves them a pile of money after next season.
Persuading Utah to board this train might not prove too difficult, either. Millsap is a flight risk this summer, and I could think of far worse things than the Jazz padding themselves with a first-round pick as the result of his departure.
Barea also stands to deepen a point guard rotation that becomes skeleton-esque at season's end, and he is on a reasonable contract as well. Pekovic may seem like overkill, but 1), they can bid adieu to him after this season, and 2), they could decide to hold onto him should Jefferson walk during free agency.
The complexity of this trade shouldn't be underestimated, but neither should its potential to help all parties involved.