Friday January 27 2012 – 10:35am Mountain – Denver, Colorado
The Toronto Raptors announced this morning that Andrea Bargnani will be sidelined indefinitely withi a strained left calf.
Bargnani missed 6 games from the Raptors line up prior to returning on Tuesday of this week; helping the Raptors beat the Phoenix Suns and the Utah Jazz on the back to back.
But the 7-footer re-injured his calf late in that Jazz game and left the arena that evening on crutches. In fact, in the locker room in Utah, Bargnani himself speculated that the injury felt “much worse” this time and that he’d be “out for a while”.
However, the MRI conducted in Denver on Thursday revealed no structural damage. After team doctors and trainers and other specialists reviewed the results of Bargnani’s tests they determined that he’ll be “treated symptomatically” and the team announced that their leading scorer would be “sidelined for an indefinite period of time”.
The question now becomes…Who will take Bargnani spot in the Raptors starting unit?
Many would automatically assume that Amir Johnson will be reinserted into the line up – and that may be a good bet. But one has to wonder if head coach Dwane Casey might need a little offence on the floor; considering how much Toronto struggled to score when Bargnani missed 6 games (Raps were 0-6) after originally injuring his calf.
Keep an eye on Linas Kleiza. He has the ability to guard many power forwards around the league and he’s a guy that can create his own shot in the post or on the perimeter. He’d be giving up some size against some of the bigger PFs in the NBA but Casey can only play with the hand he was dealt.
If Kleiza were to start, my guess would be that A. Johnson or Aaron Gray would start in the middle – based on match-ups (i.e. – quicker, more athletic teams (centers specifically) would see Johnson in the middle … while slower, more tradition 5′s could be checked by Gray).
In the above scenario(s) there would be little disruption to the rest of the starting unit, with James Johnson (SF), DeMar DeRozan (SG), and Jose Calderon (PG) staying in place.
There’s a CHANCE Casey could look at Leandro Barbosa but if I were a betting man I’d say the coach will keep the Brazilian Blur in the 2nd unit. If Barbosa were to start, you’d not only have to STILL worry about replacing Bargnani (Kleiza? A. Johnson? Ed Davis?) but you’d be either bumping DeRozan to the 3 – and, thus, shuffling J. Johnson as well – or moving him to the bench…and I think we all know THAT’S not happening! Again, based on the path of least resistance…keeping Calderon, DeRozan, and J. Johnson in place would make the most sense.
We’ll find out more this evening when the Raptors and Denver Nuggets tip it off at 9pm Eastern. Paul Jones and I will have the call — with the pre game show getting underway at 830pm as well.
Have a good one folks.