A Taupe Area

In free agency, there are winners, there are losers, and there are the Raptors.

After coming to terms with the most popular girl in school, the Raps have also agreed to extend former number one overall pick, resident Italian, and Dirk Nowitzki’s shadow mainstay Andrea Bargnani for five years and around $50 million.  That’s a chunk of change, and Bargnani, while solid, isn’t quite a chunk of a player.

Not to wave the HP banner too much, but Moore hit this one right on the head.  This could easily be a move that inspires outrage from armchair GMs everywhere, claiming that Bargs doesn’t deserve this money and that the Raps are crazy for offering it.  But Bargnani is a capable player and a contributor, and a young one at that.  Forget the fact that he and Bosh play the same position and often fulfill similar roles and fill similar spaces.  Those things are important, but when you’re the Toronto Raptors on the wrong side of this decade, you’ve got bigger fish to fry.

The Raps have Chris Bosh, Jose Calderon, and now Hedo Turkoglu, but not much else.  The obvious motive, as Matt outlined at FanHouse, is to get a crew fun and quirky and talented enough for Bosh to want to stick around.  Still, the Raps’ need for real talent goes deeper than that.  It’s not just about keeping Bosh, but also about keeping the good players in Toronto in general.  I don’t think that Toronto is an unattractive market or a bad city by any means, but the team is running low on players that matter, and this extension could be considered just one of many moves (in the past, and to come) made by Colangelo to salvage what he can from the current roster.  Even if Bosh decides to bolt for greener pastures, the Raptors are going to need assets.  They’re going to need players to build around or at the very least, that can be liquidated for some value in a rebuild.  I doubt Bargs will fetch a sweet price on the trade market, but at this point he’s one of the more valuable chips the Raptors have.  That’s not something that you let go walking out your front door, even if the scoring is streaky and it would be kind to describe the defense in the same way.

That’s why the Raptors essentially get a free pass on this extension.  They could have waited a season to get negotiations underway, but since it’s clear that the Raps intend to keep Bargnani in Toronto, it’s hard to argue with their timing.  Even in what was supposed to be a pinched market, contributing scorers are getting some big money.  Charlie and Gordon got PAID by the Pistons, Hedo likely got a contract well above his value, a second-string center will sign with the Mavs for the full midlevel, and others like Brandon Bass and Glen Davis are likely to get sizable deals despite limited roles.  There are teams willing to pay anyone who can play, and Bargs can sure as hell do that.  Where his ceiling lies, and how this contract fits that ceiling is another debate altogether.  It’s one that lies somewhere beyond the black and white, and beyond the gray area in between.  Teams desperate to hold onto their talented sub-stars are operating in a spectrum unto themselves, where the typical judgments and evaluations need not apply.

Seth Carstens