Toronto Raptors center Andrea Bargnani reacts to a call during the second half of their NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City, Utah

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


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.

Thabo Sefolosha’s lawyer: White police officer targeted black Hawks forward

Thabo Sefolosha
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NEW YORK (AP) — A lawyer representing a professional basketball player arrested outside a New York City nightclub has told a jury his client was targeted because he’s black.

Attorney Alex Spiro said Tuesday in Manhattan Criminal Court that a white police officer saw a black man in a hoodie when he confronted the Atlanta Hawks’ Thabo Sefolosha on April 8.

Sefolosha was arrested while leaving a Manhattan nightclub following a stabbing. He subsequently suffered a season-ending leg fracture after a confrontation with police.

A prosecutor said in opening statements that Sefolosha called an officer who repeatedly told him and others to leave a “midget.”

Sefolosha pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor obstructing government administration, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest charges. The Swiss citizen declined a plea deal from prosecutors.


DeMar DeRozan says he hates talking about free agency, takes pride in Raptors longevity

DeMar DeRozan
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DeMar DeRozan has a $10,050,000 player option for 2016-17. Given the rapidly escalating salary cap, it’s a practical certainty DeRozan will opt out and get a major raise.

But he says he doesn’t want to talk about it.

DeRozan, via Eric Koreen of the National Post:

“I hate that, honestly,” DeRozan said in a one-on-one interview. “I never speak about it. With me, I’ve always been that one player: I’ve been loyal. I’ve been every single thing you can think of here. I think people don’t understand how much pride I take in playing (in Toronto). A lot of times when I do get asked that, it kind of frustrates me.

“Everyday I wake up, I take pride in being the longest Raptor here. People bring up third or whatever in franchise scoring — there is so much stuff like that.”

This sounds awfully similar to LaMarcus Aldridge, who stated his desire last year to become the great Trail Blazer ever and then signed with the Spurs this summer.

Things change, and the impracticality of an extension ensures DeRozan will hit free agency. I believe he’s devoted to the Raptors right now, but his loyalty might change in the next nine months – especially once he sees contract offers from other suitors.

Toronto’s interest in DeRozan might fluctuate, too. He’s a nice player, but the Raptors haven’t won a playoff series with him despite winning the division the last two years. Depending how this season goes, Masai Ujiri might want to rework the roster significantly next summer, and letting DeRozan walk could create major cap space.

I believe DeRozan wants to return to the Raptors, and I believe they want to keep him. But so much can change between now and when both sides must make that call.