According to the team’s official website, Bargnani suffered "an avulsion sprain of the right elbow" on March 8 against the Los Angeles Lakers and will be shut down for the final stretch of this season.
The Italian went to the bench and did not return after nine minutes of play in the opening quarter of that matchup and missed Sunday’s home victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
This is the second right-elbow issue that Bargnani has dealt with this season, but the team’s press release indicates that the two injuries are not related.
The last time the seven-year veteran tweaked the elbow in his shooting arm, he wound up being sidelined for 26 games from mid-December until early February.
There are 18 contests left in the 2012-13 season, but the Raptors are well out of playoff contention in the Eastern Conference and can afford to sit the No. 1 overall pick from the 2006 draft for an extended time period.
Of course, there’s a chance that Bargnani has seen his last NBA action in a Raptors uniform, as the organization reportedly plans to make a hard push to trade him this coming offseason. The 27-year-old was openly shopped leading up the 2013 deadline, but the front office could not find a taker for his contract.
The seven-footer is set to earn $11 million next season and $12 million for the 2014-15 campaign before hitting unrestricted free agency. It remains to be seen if GM Bryan Colangelo can find a willing taker for the big man, especially after another significant injury threatens to further cut into his waning production.
Bargnani had one of the worst seasons of his up-and-down career this year, finishing with averages of 12.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 28.7 minutes per game. He only appeared in 35 contests and started in just 25 of those.
With a massive contract, a dip in every significant statistical category and this latest elbow injury, Bargnani will be a tough sell to other general managers this summer. There’s a chance he could suit back up for the team in 2013-14, but the front office and fans would likely prefer to explore alternative options.
It’ll certainly be interesting to monitor this developing situation over the next few months.