Chisholm: Fans now know the market price for Bargnani

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Tim Chisholm
2/7/2013 11:58:57 PM
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First Rudy Gay, now Carlos Boozer?

Not so fast. While ESPN.com reported on Wednesday evening that the Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls had “engaged in exploratory talks” that involved sending Andrea Bargnani to The Windy City in exchange for Boozer, the transaction doesn't appear to have the legs that the Gay deal did a couple of weeks ago.

The primary stumbling block is the nearly $9-million dollars that Boozer is owed above what Bargnani is scheduled to earn over the next two seasons. That figure not only creates difficulties in matching salaries to complete a trade, but it would also put the Raptors into perilous financial territory after absorbing the extravagant deal possessed by Gay.

In a further sign that the deal was not to be, moments after the story broke, the Chicago Tribune's K.C. Johnson tweeted that it was the Bulls who had initiated the talks, and that consummation was unlikely.

The interesting part of this episode, however, is not that the Raptors could have potentially acquired a former All-Star like Boozer if they had a desire to do so, it's that after six-and-a-half years we're finally getting a sense of what Bargnani could net Toronto on the open market.

While the former number-one-overall pick was always believed to carry some value since he's a seven-footer with a three-point shot, his deficiencies as an NBA player - such as defense, rebounding and a lack of overall toughness - made it hard to peg what he would be worth to other teams. Complicating matters further was the assumption that Raptors president and general manager Bryan Colangelo held Bargnani is such high esteem that no trade would match the value that Colangelo had placed on Bargnani's head.

Today, though, we have been gifted with two new facts to add to that narrative: one, that an opposing team was willing to give up a major piece of their roster in exchange for Bargnani (a fact that is no doubt at least partly influenced by the nearly $5-million-per-year cost discrepancy between the two), and two, that Toronto reportedly turned down the trade because they felt they could do better.

Both are interesting new wrinkles to the story.

Carlos Boozer is a real basketball player. Granted he's a real basketball player that is remarkably overpaid and, at 31-years-old, exiting the prime of his career, but he's still a key member of one of the most successful rosters from the last three seasons. In terms of talent, this is a far better return than the Barbosa-for-Turkoglu swap that Colangelo pulled-off back in 2010. Prior to this leak, no one could be totally sure if the Raptors could land a starting-caliber player in exchange for Bargnani, nor could they be sure that it would be the other team that came a-callin'.

That the Raptors turned down the offer, though, is probably the more noteworthy takeaway here.

Let's speak plainly for a second; the odds are high that this leak came from within the Raptors organization. After all, they benefitted from this leak far more than the Bulls possibly could have. The Raptors have now publicly set the floor for any trade talks that surround Andrea Bargnani, and that message is meant not only for opposing clubs but for Toronto's fans, as well. Colangelo has long insisted that he receives regular interest in Bargnani, but now we know what kind of interest has been coming his way.

Acquiring Carlos Boozer would not be a home run for the Raptors, far from it if you factor in the financial impact of such a deal, but a Carlos Boozer deal is also a far cry from the ‘I'll take your trash if you take my player' scenario, as well. If opposing teams are interested in Bargnani, they'll have to bring a real player to the table if they want to be taken seriously.

Can the Raptors really do better than this deal in a swap for Bargnani? Who knows. They have two weeks to go out and find a better deal if they are as committed to moving him as they are rumored to be. For those outside the walls of MLSE, though, there is finally a sense of what Bargnani could get the club and what the club is willing to settle for (or, rather, not settle for) in exchange for one of the franchise's most controversial figures.

If the club cannot do better then perhaps we'll hear more about Boozer moving north of the border, but for now be satisfied with finally knowing what another team would pay for Toronto's “enigma of all enigmas.”

Andrea Bargnani (Photo: Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images)
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