The dark cloud that had been looming in the distance maybe coming into the radar screen. Andrea Bargnani is on the verge of the least anticipated return from injury in Raptors history. It could be as soon as tonight against Boston. Normally in sports a player returns from injury to cheers. In pro wrestling, even the biggest heel can not come back as bad guy very often, as it is the fans instinct to cheer him. Andrea Bargnani has no doubt become the villain in the soap opera that is the Toronto Raptors.
The Raptors' record with him will tell you why as they have a 4-17 with the former first round pick in the line-up. Toronto fans have in the past booed players they have lost faith in. Vince Carter was booed a lot even before he demanded his trade from the franchise. People grew tired of his act and wanted him gone. Despite Vince being the Raptors most talented player at the time and quite honestly in history of the franchise. Andrea Bargnani has been the most talented Raptor without argument until Rudy Gay arrived on the scene.
Colangelo made mention of it constantly how Gay joked with him that Bryan should have drafted him to begin with. Which as many of you are aware would have meant not drafting Andrea Bargnani. You can speculate as to why Colangelo was so willing to share this private conversation with the media. Maybe it was as simple as he wanted to say it first for fear Gay might mention it. It might be a not so subtle message to Andrea Bargnani that he will no longer have his back.
Proof of that fact is when we do see Bargnani return it is almost guaranteed he will do it coming off the bench. What we get from that remains to be seen but Bargnani does have to play at the end of the day. You will have no hope of trading him if you can not at least showcase he is healthy. The damage this could do to an ever changing chemistry of this roster remains to be seen. The most unlikely situation would be he actually helps this team. There is no doubt he could add some scoring punch off the bench if he is motivated to do so. It is just no one really expects to see that.
If the return comes tonight it is on a very important night for the Raptors fading playoff hopes. Boston comes to town to play the Raptors for just the second time this season. They recently lost Rajon Rondo for the entire season and most likely a chunk of next season as well. Despite this major loss the Celtics have somewhat surprisingly rallied without him. Even though most feel they are like a dead man walking as far as holding on to the final playoff spot in the East.
Boston already saw the original “big three” broken up with Ray Allen signing with the rival Heat. Now talk of the unthinkable and trading Kevin Garnett has been one of the latest rumours out there in a season full of them at this time of year. The destination being talked about is the L.A Clippers. Will see if this turns out to be the case or not? The Raptors would not miss him if this happened as he has been the poster boy for the Celtics dominance and bullying of the Raptors over the years.
This game and the two remaining against the Celtics are all pretty much must win situations for the Raptors. Prior to last season the Raptors were 2-14 against the Celtics in that “big three” era. Last season the Raptors actually were able to win both their match-ups at the ACC against Boston. The last time that happened was the year the Raptors took home their only division title in 2006-07.
If anything for many reasons this should be a very interesting contest for the Raptors. Rudy Gay has a few more practices under his belt and has been doing media all over the place introducing himself to Toronto. He is a happy guy as well as his hometown Ravens took home the Super Bowl on the weekend. It is good to be Gay in Toronto…Rudy Gay that is.
The Raptors have become fun to watch again and even some of the most casual fans have taken notice of the arrival of Rudy Gay. While players have hesitated to embrace or acknowledge the term “franchise player” since Chris Bosh left town, Gay does not shy away from it. He seems to have the attitude of bring it on as he truly has embraced the role.
No one is exactly in position to deny that he isn’t. This might be the biggest reason this trade makes sense for the Raptors. This is a star driven league and many feel Rudy Gay is and can be that guy for the Toronto Raptors. While few still believe that Andrea Bargnani deserves to even be here anymore. Aside from LaMarcus Aldridge it is hard to find a player in the draft class that is better than Rudy Gay. It sure isn’t Andrea Bargnani we know that much.