Raptors’ Bargnani not bothered by trade rumors. Does anything bother him?

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With his up and down play this season — what did you expect to change? — and the Raptors struggles, lots of Toronto faithful are hoping the franchise can finally send their former No. 1 pick somewhere. Anywhere. Trade the man.

And rumors started to swirl about him in a Pau Gasol deal (that would never happen, but we’ll get to that). But Bargnani told the Toronto Sun the talk doesn’t bother him.

“No, of course it doesn’t affect me, but I think it does make sense on this team,” he said. “Who else would you blame? I don’t really know what you want me to answer….

“Of course I hear the trade rumours,” he said. “But trades are part of the job. Since the first day I joined this team seven years ago, I knew I could be traded. That’s the reality. From Day 1 you know that can happen at any time.”

Now in his seventh season, Bargnani is averaging 16.8 points a game but on just 39.9 percent shooting overall and 32.6 percent from three. Add to that he doesn’t really rebound well and doesn’t defend much, and you have quite the player. So of course Raptors fans — and management — want to move him.

But he has two years and $22 million left on his contract AFTER this season. So, good luck finding a trade partner.

I can see where some think the Lakers might be interested because Bargnani is the kind of stretch four the Lakers might want to pair with Steve Nash and Dwight Howard in Mike D’Antoni’s offense, more than Gasol.

But there are problems with that trade, and not just that the Raptors would have to throw in someone like Landry Fields or Jose Calderon to get the salaries close enough. First, the Lakers told Nash he would get to play with Gasol, they have to give it a chance. Second, Bargnani is not shooting well and hasn’t shot well from three for a couple seasons, why do the Lakers want his as a shooter again? Next, if Lakers fans complain Gasol is soft, wait until they got a load of Bargnani. Finally, and this may be the biggest key, the Lakers have their roster set up so that come the summer of 2014 all they have on the books are Nash and Dwight Howard. They can get a max free agent. They can sign Kobe Bryant back up. They can do a lot of things, but they have flexibility. Bargnani adds $11.5 million to the payroll that summer. The Lakers are not taking messing with that cap space, not likely for anyone, let alone Bargnani.

But expect to see Bargnani’s name in a lot of trade rumors going forward.

Just know he doesn’t care.

Utah’s Donovan Mitchell wins throwback Dunk Contest with Vince Carter tribute

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LOS ANGELES — The 2018 Dunk Contest went retro.

And it worked.

The throwbacks started with Cleveland’s Larry Nance Jr. going quick-change to pay tribute to his father, the 1984 winner of the Dunk Contest.

Nance later had the best dunk of the night, but it wasn’t enough in the face of Utah’s Donovan Mitchell‘s strong and consistent night highlight by his throwback dunk — donning a Vince Carter Toronto dinosaur jersey and doing VC’s famed 360 dunk — which got Mitchell the 48 points he needed to hold-off Nance and win the contest. It was over.

“Growing up I was a big dunker,” Mitchell said. “I wasn’t really much of a basketball player. I just dunked and played defense, and I watched a lot of Vince’s videos. I’ve been seeing what he’s been doing all year at his age, which is incredible.

“So I figured, you know, at my size if I was able to get it, it would be a great dunk and a way to finish it, you know. And actually, funny story is I haven’t made that dunk in like half a year. I tried it in practice the past two days and tried it this morning, didn’t make it. Tried it last night, didn’t make it… But to be able to make it was why I was so excited.”

Earlier in the night, Mitchell had done another tribute worn a Darrell Griffith jersey — Utah’s Dr. Dunkenstien, who went to Louisville like Mitchell — for an off-the-side-of-the-backboard jumping over Kevin Hart dunk.

“You know, just knowing your history, I think, is the biggest thing,” Mitchell said of the throwbacks. “Just understanding where this game originated, I guess the OGs of the game, I guess you would call it. But just understanding. Even if it’s just dunking. Whether it’s dunking in the NBA in general, Darrell Griffith, we went to the same school in college. I know Darrell very well. Both got drafted by the Jazz, and he was an incredible player. To be able to pay homage to him meant a lot to me.”

For my money, Nance had the dunk of the night, his first in the Finals, a double off-the-backboard throwdown that you had to see on replay to get (it wasn’t as evident in the building what he had done until it was re-shown on the big screen).

It was a fun contest all night long.

Mitchell (the leader in the Rookie of the Year race) started it off brilliantly — he brought out a second backboard, and did a self-alley-oop off one to the other.

Larry Nance Jr. did his tribute to his father with his first dunk, and on his second one came from behind the backboard, going around the world, and threw it down hard. That got him into the Finals.

Oladipo missed all three of his dunks in the first round, which almost doomed his night. He, however, did a dunk wearing the Black Panther mask for his second dunk, which impressed.

Mitchell said he wanted to beat Dennis Smith Jr. because the Mavericks’ point guard had beaten him in dunk contests for years. Smith had one monster dunk, when he went between the legs and threw it down hard and got the full 50. It just wasn’t enough to get Smith to the Finals.

Nance started off the final round by bringing out his father again to throw an alley-oop to a windmill. Mitchell responded with a self-alley-oop to a windmill that was flat-out wicked. That got Mitchell a 50-46 lead after one round of the Finals.

Then Mitchell went to Vince Carter and “it was over.”

Larry Nance Jr. throws alley-oop to himself, throws alley-oop to himself (video)

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LOS ANGELES — Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr. immediately motioned for the replay to be shown of this dunk. It was necessary to properly appreciate it.

Best dunk of the night.

Donovan Mitchell won the dunk contest, though.

Larry Nance Jr. plays tribute to father — rock-the-cradle dunk in Suns uniform

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LOS ANGELES — Back in 1984, high-flying Larry Nance Sr. won the first NBA All-Star Dunk Contest with this set of dunks — most famously a rock-the-cradle move.

Larry Nance Jr. came into the 2018 Dunk Contest and went nostalgic — all the way back to the Suns’ throwback uniform and the same dunk.

That and a good second dunk got him into the Dunk Contest finals. In that round, Nance Sr. threw an alley-oop to his son for the windmill.

Donovan Mitchell throws alley-oop to himself – off second backboard (video)

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LOS ANGELES – Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell set a high standard with the first slam of the 2018 dunk contest.

Very creative. Very well-executed.

Looks like all that preparation paid off.