NBA Rumors: Raptors Would Be Fortunate to Move Andrea Bargnani

Tim Keeney@@t_keenContributor IJanuary 1, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 09:  Andrea Bargnani #7 of the Toronto Raptors drives to the basket during a 102-83 Los Angeles Clipper win at Staples Center on December 9, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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Trading Andrea Bargnani sounds terrific in theory for the Toronto Raptors, but it will be an instance of "easier said than done."

Still, though, according to ESPN's Marc Stein, it's an inevitability that the veteran forward gets moved sometime before the February trade deadline:

One source close to the situation said Friday that Bargnani remains "a lock to be moved." That naturally depends on finding a taker for the underachieving Italian forward.

Bargnani has been so atrocious this year that it's almost comedic. 

To be fair, the former No. 1 overall pick shouldn't be carrying around such heavy expectations anymore, as he is far from a complete player and clearly never will be. 

But on the offensive end, where Bargnani is supposed to be at his best, he is playing at arguably the lowest level of his career.

In his seventh season, the 27-year-old has a career-low 48.5 true shooting percentage and 44.5 effective field-goal percentage.

On a per-36 minute basis, he's averaging 17.6 points (over three less than last year's mark) and a career-low 4.8 rebounds (a horribly poor number for a seven-footer).

No matter what way you slice it, Bargnani, who has an offensive rating of just 94, has been a cancer to Toronto's offense this season, and when his defense (a laughable 110 defensive rating) is that much worse, there simply can't be a spot on the roster for him.

For further proof of that theory, just look at Toronto's last nine games with Bargnani sidelined due to an elbow injury: Seven wins, two losses, an increase in offensive efficiency, a decrease in defensive efficiency and more deserved minutes for Ed Davis and Amir Johnson, who bring with them much-needed energy and athleticism. 

Bargnani simply doesn't belong on this team. Maybe he'll be revitalized with a new squad, a new coach and a new style, but the only thing he gives the Raptors when healthy is notches in the loss column. 

Unfortunately, for all of the above reasons—and the fact that he's expensively under contract for two more seasons after this one—teams are going to be wary about acquiring the enigmatic Italian.

It's not ideal, but the Raptors must either sell incredibly low on Bargnani or package him with Kyle Lowry or Jose Calderon.

At this point, it's just the price they need to pay to cut ties with a player who is keeping the franchise from progressing.