Bargnani's mixed messages

Toronto Raptors forward Andrea Bargnani reacts after a basket against the Dallas Mavericks during...

Toronto Raptors forward Andrea Bargnani reacts after a basket against the Dallas Mavericks during the second half of their NBA basketball game in Toronto January 17, 2010. (REUTERS/Mike Cassese)

Sports Network

, Last Updated: 3:12 PM ET

TORONTO -- By now, most Toronto Raptors fans have seen Andrea Bargnani's interesting comments regarding his future with the club when he did a brief interview during an Italian Sky Sports feed of the Western Conference Finals, essentially saying he wants to play somewhere warmer and where he can "play [his] role."

Since then, the seven-footer backtracked a little and his press office issued a statement from him to the Raptors that reads:

"I wish to personally clarify and correct an inaccurate portrayal of my words that recently appeared in the media," he said. "Much of what I said was taken out of context with respect to an entire conversation.

"I want to make clear my love for Toronto and that I consider the city a second home. I never said that I want to leave Toronto and I'm sorry if fans interpreted the inaccuracy that way.

"I am proud to represent Toronto and the Raptors organization. I appreciate what [Raptors president and general manager] Bryan Colangelo and the organization has done for me during the past five years of my career. I will always continue to work to improve myself as a player in an effort to reward the organization and our fans with the best team possible."

The apology was a nice and very professional gesture, but once spoken, words can't be so simply unsaid, and with the conflicting messages that the big Italian is sending out, one can't help but wonder what he really wants.

Does he want to stay or does he want to go?

The former No.1 overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft has been a subject of much discussion among the Toronto faithful almost from the very second he was drafted. Those in his camp will point to his legitimate scoring ability and the fact that the player who he's most compared to, Dirk Nowitzki, took a while to develop into the dominant player he is today.

The party that's against keeping him argue that he's a liability on the defensive end, is a terrible rebounder despite his great size and the Nowitzki comparison will never come about because the German sensation became an All- Star after just four years and has always been a better rebounder.

Both sides make valid points but, because of how the team is currently being reconstructed, Bargnani may be forced to be moved.

With Ed Davis improving every month he played and Amir and James Johnson (no relation) both playing significant minutes, it would appear that the Raptors' front line of the future is moving away from what Bargnani can offer.

Defense, athleticism and length are the common denominator among those three players and Bargnani only really fits under one of those categories.

This wouldn't be much of an issue if the Raptors were to bring him off the bench as his scoring ability would make him an ideal sixth man, but it's unlikely that will ever happen as long as he's with the team.

Therefore, the best idea may be to try to move him. He's clearly a good player, and, like he said in the Italian interview, he just needs to be able to play his role. That isn't likely to happen in Toronto, but on a real contender, or a team that's looking to go over the top, and become one, he could be a great addition.

One such team could be the Memphis Grizzlies. Rudy Gay's name has been thrown around a lot lately because of how well his team played without him in the post-season and the fact that the Grizzlies will need to open up cap space to re-sign Marc Gasol.

Gay could work with DeMar DeRozan to create a very exciting dynamic duo that may remind some fans of the days when Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady were both on the team.

Whether this happens, or not, is all up-in-the-air, but if the possibility is there, saying goodbye to Bargnani would definitely be worth it.

KANTER WANTS NO BUSINESS WITH TORONTO

If Colangelo does end up trading Bargnani, as un-center-like as his abilities are, there will still be a hole to fill at the five and the top prospect at that position looks like he doesn't want anything to do with Toronto.

Turkish big man Enes Kanter has refused interviews with three teams thus far in his evaluation process - the Utah Jazz, the Milwaukee Bucks and the Raptors.

His reasons for not wanting to speak with Utah and Milwaukee make sense as the Jazz's front court is already full to the brim and they will be looking at point guards primarily and since the Bucks have the 10th overall selection, he will likely already be taken.

Not wanting an interview with Toronto raises eyebrows though as it falls right into the range that he's likely to be selected (top five) and is a team that could use him, giving him significant minutes as a rookie.

It's hard to say what it could be. Does he simply not want to play in Canada? Did a psychic tell him to stay away from the Raptors? Or could it have been another Turkish player telling him to keep away?

Very curious.


Photos