In a way, the arrival of O'Neal signaled a win-now mode in Raptorland. He cost the Raptors
significantly in terms of finances and, thusly, in terms of depth. The team has next to no players on the roster that can be considered assets for the future outside of Bargnani
(there are those that will argue that Roko Ukic belongs in that conversation as well). Does it not stand to reason that the team should make the necessary moves to win today to justify such a costly expenditure? Going half-way hardly seems like the most effective way to do business in pro sports.
That said, does it not also stand to reason that the team should maintain some level of forward-thinking as it proceeds with the Bosh/Calderon/O'Neal troika just in case it isn't as successful as it is hoped to be? Perhaps, though, that success will not be achieved because the team invested too heavily in Bargnani
when they could have used to him to acquire a piece that suited the current roster better.
See, it's not a question with a right answer. For every argument to hang on to Bargnani
today there is an equally compelling reason to sell high on his potential rather than risk him diminishing his own returns later.
There, of course, is also the question of what his actual value might be. While Wallace and Harrington were cited as examples in the 'Globe' article, neither one appears to be enough satisfy the imaginations for either the doers in the organization or the watchers of. Wallace, while a perfect match in terms of skill-set, is an even greater injury risk than O'Neal is while Harrington, a close friend of Jermaine from their Indiana days, is an ill-fit in any system where he isn't afforded an inordinate amount of touches on the offensive end of the court, he is a poor fit at small forward and he doesn't play a lick of defense. Neither seems like the kind of return that a former number one pick 'should' net, but Bargnani
hasn't exactly proven to be the kind of player that a number one pick should warrant, either, so the debate rages on.
The point is that for a team that is swimming in between elite status and up-and-coming, each decision made with regards to personnel is paramount. Colangelo has never been one to shy away from a bold move, but moving Bargnani
may be too bold, even for him. Keeping Bargnani
on the roster would not be the wrong move for a club so desperate for weapons coming off of the bench, but moving Bargnani
for help on the wing would not be the wrong answer, either. This is the kind of move, either through action or inaction, that grows or erodes reputations all the time in professional sports. It's a circumstance clouded all the more by the impossibility of gauging the full ramifications of the decision because the sheer number of intangibles involved - as well as opinions about those intangibles - are dizzying.
But I'm sure that Colangelo is the first to say that sleep is overrated during the season, anyway.