5 Stupid Reasons NOT To Trade Bargnani

Posted on March 30, 2012 | 16 Comments

We’ve all heard them. Those reasons that you hear over and over again why the Raptors shouldn’t trade Andrea Bargnani. There’s several of them in the comments section of The Score’s Joseph Casciaro latest blog post over at RaptorBlog, which is strangely titled, “A Post to Settle All Bargnani Posts” (it doesn’t). Well, instead of trying to debate them one at a time, I’m compiling them here. So if someone brings up one of them, just send them over to The Picket Fence.


Why not? Especially when he’s the best player on a lottery team? It’s not as if his presence has helped the team to the playoffs. Here’s a list of “best players” who were traded from a lottery team which ended up benefiting the team in the long run:

Pau Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies

Gasol was an All-Star big man, but Memphis was stuck in mediocrity with him and when he was 26 years old, the Grizzlies decided to refocus on youth and give themselves some financial breathing room. While the trade itself was initially derided, it ended up benefitting both teams.

Ray Allen, Seattle Supersonics

In the 2006-2007 season, the Seattle Sonics won 31 games, while a 31 year old Ray Allen scored 26 ppg and made the All-Star team for the 7th time, being one of the few bright spots in an otherwise bad season. They traded him for a lottery pick (Jeff Green) and cap filler, and ended up winning FEWER games the next season. That was also Kevin Durant‘s first season.

Seattle ended up losing the team to Oklahoma City, where they added a few more (young) pieces and are now one of the best teams in the league.

Antoine Walker, Atlanta Hawks

Now, for the life of me, I don’t remember Antoine Walker playing for the Atlanta Hawks (normally I have an excellent memory for that sort of thing), but he was their best player (averaging 20 ppg and 9.4 rpg) during the 2004-05 season. A season they won just 13 games.

Midway through the season, they traded away their best player, who was only 28 at the time, for basically expiring contracts. With the cap room, they ended up signing Joe Johnson, who would become a perennial All-Star and eventually lead the Hawks to the second round of the playoffs.

Now, while they did several bone-headed things during this time (Marvin Williams over both Deron Williams and Chris Paul, as well as giving away too much in the sign-and-trade for Joe Johnson), but they certainly didn’t worry about trading away their best player.

Now, there are countless other examples, but I think you get my point. This notion that you can’t trade your best player away only counts if your best player is irreplaceable. Bargnani is not irreplaceable. He’s a high scoring big man who is a poor rebounder and defender. He’s never been an All-Star and the Raptors have only been to the playoffs twice, with him and neither time was he the best player.


Not long after the Carmelo Anthony trade, I remember reading an article discussing the fallacy that teams trading their leading scorers struggle to score afterwards. Unfortunately, I can’t find the article (anyone who remembers it, please let me know), but it talked about how remaining players (and the new one’s coming in) will simply fill the scoring void left by the player. A player’s scoring average is not finite. Players score what they do because of things like the amount of shots they are given, how many plays are run for them, etc.

Players are always waiting for chances to score more, and mot players have, at the very least, a decent ability to score.

Now, related to this is the argument that Bargnani is the Raptors’ only player who can CONSISTENTLY score. Yes, this is true. But again, he has been a consistent 20+ ppg scorer on two lottery teams. And if the Raptors are ever going to become a real contender, chances are part of doing so will involve acquiring better players than they already have. And chances are one or more of these players will be able to score consistently.

If Bargnani is the only player on your team that can score consistently, then you’re a lottery team.


This is a non-basketball reason, and a bad one at that. If you’re building a team, your aim should be to acquire not only the best players, but the players who will help you achieve your goal of winning a Championship. Once personal feelings creep into it, you’re screwed.

Besides, the myth that the Raptors lost their best players because of the teams location is nonsense. Every single good player that left Toronto did so for reasons OTHER than it is situated in Canada.

Besides, Charlie Villanueva liked Toronto, so does that mean the Raptors should try and get him back?


Yes, Bargnani is a unique player. He’s a 7 footer who can score from outside and stretch the defenses, as well as drive to the basket. There are very few players with his skillset. This is something I will agree with.

Unfortunately many people seem to have confused the word “unique” with “irreplaceable”.

While it would be very difficult to find a player that is similar to Bargnani, that doesn’t mean a team can’t win without a player like Bargnani. In fact, there’s no evidence to support the fact that you can even win with a scoring 7 footer who is a poor rebounder and defender.


And most of those other 379 games shows he can be maddeningly inconsistent, lackadaisical when he’s not scoring, difficult to motivate and a poor rebounder and defender. Scratch that.  Even those 13 games shows he is a poor rebounder and defender.

To put it in perspective, Jerryd Bayless averaged 20 ppg and nearly 6 apg in the final 8 games, last season. Those are almost All-Star numbers.

In 37 games as starter in his first season, Darren Collison averaged 18.8 ppg and 9.1 apg, for New Orleans. Since he was traded to Indiana, where he became their full time starter, he’s averaged about 12 ppg and 5 apg.

At least with Colliison, though, you didn’t have years of previous evidence that he wouldn’t be able to put up those gaudy numbers consistently. With Bargnani, you’ve got the previous 5 years, and the games SINCE those 13 games.

I’d love to see him play well over the rest of the season, but only to increase his trade value. If he’s not the focal point of the offense, and motivated, he’ll hurt your team. And on a better team, he’s not going to be the focal point of the offense.


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Join the discussion: 16 Comments


  • Tinman

    Thanks for clarifying your position on Bargnani.

    You make the trade if it makes sense. Whether it includes Bargnani, Calderon, the Johnson’s or Devlin and Rautins- hey maybe we can get Swirsky back.

  • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

    I certainly don’t condone trading ANY player if it doesn’t make sense. Although I’d rather keep Swirsky back in the fridge with the salami and cheese.

  • Stephen Waugh

    “While the trade itself was initially derided, it ended up benefitting both teams.”

    For reader’s sake, you didn’t mention who the “other” team was (I know it was the Los Angeles Lakers)

    I know you wanted to keep reason #5 short, but I think Kevin Garnett from Minnesota Timberwolves deserves mentioning, considering that they got seven players for him alone, including Al Jefferson who now thrives with the Utah Jazz. But the real reason why it benefitted them was because they finished 22-60 the following season (sound familiar?)and got the #3 pick in the 2008 draft where they drafted OJ Mayo and traded to Memphis for Kevin Love. If they didn’t rebuild, they wouldn’t have one of the best big men or future star point guard in the league today.

    Speaking of the Utah Jazz, kudos to them for having the stones to trade their franchise point guard and getting back Derrick Favors, the #3 pick in the 2011 draft (Enes Kanter), and a first round pick in the 2012 draft (albeit Golden State’s original and it’s top-7 protected through 2013 and top-6 protected in 2014). They can compete for playoffs now or trade Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap and rebuild around Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter. Devin Harris is a wash as far as I am concerned and should be replaced sooner than later.

    Mike James was a great example that fits this article greatly. In his lone season in Toronto, he averaged the same numbers as Jerryd Bayless’ final eight games of last season like you mentioned only on a 27-55 record team that saw Chris Bosh make his All-Star debut. Unlike Jerryd Bayless though, he was 31 years old that year with “no previous evidence to suggest that he would be able to put up those gaudy numbers consistently” and was able to use those numbers to be wanted “anywhere but Toronto”, because it was apparent that he didn’t want to be in Toronto (typical isn’t it?). The idea that fans would complain of losing him to a laughable Jason Kapono-type deal for nothing was a fallacy at the time. I think that letting walk for nothing was one of Bryan Colangelo’s better managerial moves. It would have been nice in hindsight to have suckered some team into working out a sign-and-trade for him though.

  • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

    Ya, I had a bunch more examples, but as you said, I wanted to try and keep it short. Plus, I wanted to give three different reasons with very different players. Ray Allen was 31 when Seattle traded him, but Pau Gasol was the same age as Bargnani is right now. Antoine Walker was an example of a player producing more simply because he was on a bad team.

  • theswirsky

    “Although I’d rather keep Swirsky back in the fridge with the salami and cheese.”

    I’m offended!! Sure he never called for the salami and cheese until the game was won, but he was also never wrong….(couple close calls though)

    As for the write up, there is simply no valid reason to not trade him. There are however many valid reasons to do it. Its unfortunate that after 5 years this is still a discussion

  • Tinman

    And just to be clear on the subject, if the right deal comes up trade him.
    Your points are all valid, except maybe the first. Bargnani has yet to establish himself as our best player which your fifth point explains why.

  • Stephen Waugh


    I guess Tim W. was referrencing Andrea Bargnani as more of the Antione Walker on the Atlanta hawks type player.

  • malefax

    Do you care about anything else in basketball other than the Raptors getting rid of Bargnani?

    I don’t really know why I asked the question because the answer is fairly clear.

  • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.


    No offense intended. But like an old flame, maybe the memory is better than reality.


    It’s definitely debatable whether Bargnani is the Raptors best player, but in the end it doesn’t really matter.

    @Stephen Waugh

    I’ll let people decide for themselves which one Bargnani is more like.


    Apparently you’re disregarding all my previous posts, most of which say nothing about the subject. Of course, why let the facts get in the way of a perfectly good argument, right?

  • Traz

    Bargs is not the best player on the raptors most nights I win bets cause I take the opposing teams point or two guard for rebounds over bargs and win almost every time

  • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.


    I’m certainly not going to disagree with you. I’ve never felt the guy who scores the most points is the team’s best player, but that’s beside the point. The fact is that, even if you do think that Bargnani is the team’s best player, it’s not a good reason not to trade him.

  • FPB

    I’m not comfortable too much on this.

    He was good and helping the team before he got hurt, he was driving the lane and getting fouled.

    Now he came back on a team with no hope of nothin’ and he sucked back from an injury.

    I’l give him the rest of the season at least.

    Even then it’s kinda shitty cause there’s nothing in play.

  • http://www.bpsports.webs.com BP

    FPB, why does he need a motivation to play better?

    There’s no reason for him to want to help the team tank, players never intentionally tank anyways with their jobs on the line.

    He should know that if the Raptors get any PF in the draft, he’s most likely gone. Is the thought of being traded and/or losing your starting job not motivation enough to play better?

    From a Raptors perspective, it’s even more of a reason to try and trade him, if he doesn’t want to play hard every night.

  • Rich

    Valid points, but here’s one.

    If the return for Bargnani is atrocious, do you still trade him?

    Or perhaps a better question, what would you consider a good return for Bargnani, or a fair one?

  • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.


    The return for Bargnani is going to (hopefully) be what his worth is. If his trade value is incredibly low, then, unfortunately, that’s what he’s worth.

    Personally, I’d like to see the Raptors get a lottery pick out of him. If the Raptors don’t get the top pick, I’d like to see them use him to move up, if they can.

  • http://www.bpsports.webs.com BP

    Tim, here’s sort of an extension to what you wrote.

    But here’s my reasons why they should trade Bargnani.


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