Toronto Raptors v Denver Nuggets

No Kobe, but looks like Italy may get Andrea Bargnani back

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Kobe Bryant for Andrea Bargnani is not a fair trade. Not even in Italy.

But it seems to be what has happened — with Kobe out of the picture (save for maybe a “Kobe Cup” tour) it appears Virtus Roma (not the team after Kobe) is close to signing the Raptors forward, according to La Stampa, via Hoopshype.

Bargnani would get about $2 million if he plays the rest of the season in Rome. Bargnani has four years, $41.5 million left on his NBA deal (which the Raptors would be happy to trade if anyone is interested… anyone… hello… Bueller, Bueller).

The insurance issues have been dealt with and they have found a sponsor in (the “dating” site for married people looking to have a fling). Which seems appropriate somehow with Bargnani essentially having a fling in Rome while the NBA cannot give him the satisfaction of games.

Bargnani can shoot the rock and gave the Raptors 21.4 points per game last season. But he’s not terribly efficient, isn’t a great rebounder and is a disinterested defender. Maybe he can find a better fit in a European system.

But he’s no Kobe Bryant.

James Harden: “I am the best player in the league. I believe that.”

James Harden, Stephen Curry
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James Harden was the MVP last season — if you ask his fellow NBA players.

The traditional award (based on a media vote) went to Stephen Curry (in the closest vote in four years), and that was the right call (in my mind). But from the time it happened Harden did not buy it. And he still doesn’t buy it. In the least — and he’s using that as fuel for this season. That’s what he told Fran Blinebury over at

“I am the best player in the league. I believe that,” he said. “I thought I was last year, too.”

Well, it’s a more realistic claim than Paul George’s.

“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.

“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”

That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.

I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?

It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.