Toronto Raptors forward Andrea Bargnani hasn't quite lived up to the hype as the No. 1 overall pick of the 2006 draft. But the talented seven-footer may be getting a fresh start with the Chicago Bulls, should the rumors of a potential exchange for All-Star PF Carlos Boozer ring true.
ESPN's Marc Stein provides more details on the prospective move, which would reportedly involve a number of other role players:
Other players with smaller contracts would have to be added to the deal to make the salary-cap math work should talks indeed progress to a more serious level. But sources told ESPN.com on Thursday that both teams have considered the move.
Stein cites sources in Chicago that say Bargnani could do a lot to address the team's lackluster three-point shooting. It would also be a cost-effective transaction that saves the Bulls $5 million by taking Boozer's larger contract off the books. Luxury taxes are going to hit hard this offseason, and Chicago has to do everything it can to create space in the salary cap.
There is some risk associated with acquiring Bargnani, as he just returned on Thursday from an elbow injury that sidelined him for 26 games (h/t ESPN via the AP).
But Chicago is in the bottom five in the NBA in points per game. In dire need of offensive firepower and spacing on the floor, there is no question that Bargnani would be a valuable asset.
Boozer is shooting a career-worst 47.5 percent from the field, but his improved play as of late raises his potential trade value. Meanwhile, Bargnani is only 27 years old and has plenty of talent and mileage at his disposal to have a thriving career.
It's remarkable that head coach Tom Thibodeau has held the team together amidst so many injuries. No matter who is in the lineup, the Bulls have remained among the best defensive teams in the NBA.
That's why there shouldn't be concern about Bargnani on that end of the floor. Bargnani's defense certainly isn't his strong suit, but Boozer hasn't exactly brought much to the table on that end of the court anyway.
Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo! humorously commented on both players' effort on defense:
Superstar point guard Derrick Rose is slated to return at some point after the All-Star break, which will give the Bulls an elite No. 1 scorer they have lacked all year. Rose's game thrives on being able to get to the paint, though, and he must have a strong supporting cast capable of hitting knockdown jumpers off of his dribble penetration.
That's where Bargnani comes in. He is a prototypical stretch 4 player who would more adequately clear out the lane for Rose, and he has the length to shoot over any defender. Bargnani also has the ability to take his man off the dribble with the uncommon athleticism he possesses for his size.
With a talent like Rose, another element that would make Bargnani a dynamic addition to the Bulls' lineup is shooting off of pick-and-rolls, as Stein observes.
As relatively disappointing as Bargnani has been throughout his time in Toronto, he has a far better chance to reach his immense potential in a traditionally winning organization with a strong, cohesive supporting cast.
Rose is the unquestioned face of the franchise, which will alleviate Bargnani from the gaudy expectations he couldn't reach with the Raptors as the team's torchbearer.
The addition of Bargnani would be an outstanding move, and combined with Rose's comeback, the Bulls could find themselves atop the Eastern Conference standings for the third year in a row.