Hedo Turkoglu is on the way and it appears that Andrea Bargnani will also soon have his long-term future secured with the Toronto Raptors.
Bargnani’s agent, Leon Rose, told ESPN.com on Tuesday night that the Raptors — who later this week will officially sign Turkoglu away from Orlando — have reached an agreement in principle on a contract extension for the 7-foot Italian, who was selected No. 1 overall by the Raptors in the 2006 draft.
The deal, according to NBA front-office sources, would span five seasons starting in 2010-11 and earn Bargnani an estimated $50 million.
This is a shockingly bad contract. It’s easily one of the worst contracts in the NBA.
On the bright side, if Bryan Colangelo waited 12 more months, he likely would have had to pay even more for Bargnani’s services. If he was committed to re-signing Bargnani, and I think we can safely say that at this point, then this is the best deal that he could have gotten.
I think Bargnani’s price goes up to $12+ million per annum if he repeats the success he had over the final 46 games of last season next year. Heck if he showed any further substantial improvement, Bargnani could have been looking at a maximum contract.
That doesn’t mean Bargnani would have deserved it, he wouldn’t, but I think someone would have been willing to pay him that type of money.
Beginning Of The End
I wrote a comment on the Raptors Republic stating that I think this is the beginning of the end for this Raptors team. Why do I think that?
Two main reasons
(1) Limited ways to improve the team. The Raptors now have poor cap flexibility, with those four core players taking up nearly the entire salary cap. It’s still possible for the Raptors to flesh out their squad with a quality supporting cast, but adding high level individual talents will be very difficult.
The team’s players also have limited trade value. It’ll be near impossible to win a Chris Bosh trade due to his enormous on court value, and it would be near impossible to win a Hedo Turkoglu trade because his contract will limit his trade value hugely. That leaves Calderon and Bargnani. Calderon has solid trade value but most trades involving him will be more of a lateral move. Bargnani is still someone who can give the Raptors a good upgrade, trade value is higher than on court value, but his large contract extension will likely lower his trade value in the interim period. Also, if the Raptors cannot find a suitable trade, they no longer have the possibility of just letting him leave in 12 months time and using that cap space (likely in 2011) on someone better.
That leaves internal development and the draft as the only two options for acquiring high level talents. I’m not high on Bargnani’s potential, so I don’t think much of the Raptors chances to improve there. DeRozan is an X factor.
The one decent bit of news is that the Raptors could very well be staying in the lottery, but they’d have a low pick in the #10-#14 range — hard to get stars there, but you can get some good pieces.
(2) Everything Bill Brasky, amongst many others, said about a Hedo-Bosh-Bargnani frontcourt being incompatible is true. The Raptors have locked themselves into a core that cannot compete.
The Raptors starting five is going to get hammered on the backboards, and they’re going to be poor defensively. While they figure to be a very good offensive team, that advantage will struggle to outweigh their flaws.
The Raptors are in a lot of trouble and it will only begin to end in one of two circumstances
(1) Very likely — They blow up their core. They move a minimum of one of their top four players, maybe more.
(2) Very unlikely — they get a miracle, DeRozan becomes an MVP candidate, or they draft All-Star caliber players in back-to-back seasons with their high lottery picks, or Bargnani becomes the player that many here hope for him to become, or some combination of the three.
That’s why I think this deal is the beginning of the end.