The Toronto Raptors made a significant upgrade when they opted to acquire athletic swingman Rudy Gay, but what else do the Raps have to address?
Well, in all honesty, their final move will be more a credit to the team's "heading" more than anything else. By heading, this would be in which direction they're choosing to move in—contending, rebuilding or stuck in purgatory.
Issue No. 1 on the to-do list for Toronto would be to define this team's identity. The Gay acquisition is definitely a step in the right direction, but the Raptors are stuck somewhere in between purgatory and rebuilding.
His soft perimeter-oriented teams never made much of an impact, and considering a lot of the personnel he brought in was past their prime, his "Euro-vision" never really panned out. Now, however, the Raptors appear to be reinventing themselves.
The Toronto front office seems dead-set on its new approach—defensive-minded, athletic and youthful, all of which are excellent traits to have in a team.
However, there is one player with tremendous trade value wearing a Raptors uniform that does not fit the mold of the aforementioned qualities—Andrea Bargnani.
Just as they have to accept their "Euro-vision" was a failure, the Raps also need to accept the "Bargnani Project" has to be scrapped as well.
If they are committed to their new identity, they need to be committed to moving Bargnani, and it appears the Raptors intend to do so. The rumored trade between the Chicago Bulls and Toronto Raptors would primarily be a straight-up players swap.
Now how would a move benefit Toronto? Well, ESPN's Kurt Rambis did a fairly good job breaking it down.
As Rambis highlighted, the move would address the Raptors' need for an inside-the-paint scorer. While he embellishes Boozer's toughness and defensive ability a tad, Boozer is most definitely a much "meaner" piece than Bargnani would be, but again, their games are very different.
Boozer is an excellent mid-range shooter, great at the stripe, savvy at securing boards and has a nice, high-arcing fall-away. He is a bit undersized, however, and he's a little late on rotations, which makes him a mediocre defender.
Bargnani on the other hand is more of a face-up, pump-fake-and-drive type of player. He is more likely to drift on the wing or corner to spot up than bang in the post like Boozer would. Neither is an excellent defender, but Boozer would definitely be more of a tougher, commanding presence for this Raptors squad.
While nothing is set in stone as of yet, moving Bargnani before the deadline would certainly help the Raptors enhance their new approach, and hopefully for their sake, they'll finally right a team that has been a wayward ship the past few seasons.