According to Marc Stein of ESPN, Masai Ujiri and the Toronto Raptors will be looking to trade Andrea Bargnani by July 1st.
First order of biz for new Raps GM Masai Ujiri: Word is he'll shop Andrea Bargnani everywhere he can in hopes of moving him before July 1— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 1, 2013
This likely comes as no surprise to anyone in NBA circles and Raptor fans alike. Bargnani, the target of many fans in Raptors Nation, has had a very tumultuous career as a Toronto Raptor.
Picked first overall in 2006—ahead of the likes of Rudy Gay (eighth), LaMarcus Aldridge (second) and Rajon Rondo (21st)—Bargnani has been labelled by many NBA experts as the biggest bust for a first overall draft choice since Kwame Brown.
Because of that, and his tendency to incur injuries, the Raptors—under the new management team CEO Tim Leiweke, president Bryan Colangelo and GM Masai Ujiri—will search long and hard for a possible suitor.
If they cannot find a trade partner for Bargnani, I'd look out for a potential buyout in the second week of July.
But like all players the Raptors unload, the possibility remains that he finally gets "it" and comes back to reek havoc on the Raptors. What Bargnani needs is a change of scenery—possibly the chance to play in a new system that isn't so reliant on pick-and-rolls and instead focuses more on spacing and efficient passing.
With that said, who do the Raptors trade with?
I like the Golden State Warriors as a possible landing spot for Bargnani, as the Warriors could dangle the expiring contracts of Richard Jefferson and Andris Biedrins the Raptors' way. What that also becomes is another trade asset down the road for the Raptors. Having played most of the season without Bargnani, adding an expiring contract that plays minimally might be advantageous for the Raptors.
As for the Warriors, coupling Bargnani with better rebounding big men like David Lee and Andrew Bogut could really get his game going. The Warriors play his style of basketball, so I believe the fit is there. It's just a matter of negotiating a deal.
Another landing spot could be in Atlanta alongside center Al Horford. With only Horford, Lou Williams, Jeff Teague, John Jenkins and DeShawn Stevenson returning to the Hawks lineup, the changeover in "Hotlanta" might be rather large. They will need scoring, they will need shooting and they will need complimentary pieces for Horford to play with.
An inside-out offence with Horford and Bargnani could work. For a deal to happen, the Raptors will likely receive the dreaded traded player exemption (TPE) from the deal. The previous TPEs that have been traded to the Raptors came from the Pacers for Leandro Barbosa, and likely the TPE that set the Raptors back a few years, the TPE that came back from the Chris Bosh deal.
Hopefully Ujiri decides to use the exemption rather than watch it disappear like Colangelo did.
The Charlotte Bobcats are another option, as they may dangle the expiring contract of Ben Gordon to land Bargnani. This is another decent option since Gordon would provide some much-needed shooting off the bench—at least for a little while, until he's dealt at the deadline if need be.
The New York Knicks remain a possibility as well, as the Raptors and Knicks could hook up for a memorable Amar'e Stoudamire-for-Bargnani-and-Landry Fields type of deal. However, this deal is one I hope never happens, as both clubs don't really gain anything other than hoping a change of scenery changes the fortunes of two former stars.
The Phoenix Suns could also be a favorable landing spot for Bargnani. The Suns could offer up a package that includes injured power forward Channing Frye and Argentinian power forward Luis Scola. If the Raptors were able to acquire Scola, Raptors color analyst Leo Rautins might faint in excitement. Scola brings the right intangibles to any team.
He's a hard-working veteran with the right attitude and could really mentor some of the younger Raptors, much like former Raptor Jorge Garbajosa did for the Raptors in 2006-07 when the club won its first division championship in their 18-year existence.
Now Raptors fans must wait for the NBA season to finish and the draft to take place. The Raptors, who hold no first-round picks this year, will look down other avenues in hopes that they can retool and get back to the playoffs.