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News » Bargnani was happy to see Mitchell leave

Bargnani was happy to see Mitchell leave

Bargnani was happy to see Mitchell leave
Basketball REPORTER

Raptors centre Andrea Bargnani wasn't sorry to see Sam Mitchell fired.

And he says he is worried Maurizio Gherardini, the Raptors' highly respected senior vice-president of Basketball operations, might be leaving.

In an interview with La Gazetta dello Sport from Treviso, Italy, where he's been doing some off-season training, Bargnani said he is encouraged the Raptors decided to make Jay Triano the head coach, and not too disappointed that Sam Mitchell was shown the door.

"As a coach, everyone in the team likes him, unlike Mitchell, and he earned the respect of all the players right from Day 1," Bargnani said. "That's why we asked [ Raptors president Bryan Colangelo] to confirm him. And he agreed, because he's the right man to start over with."

Gherardini is in the final year of a three-season deal with the team, and Bargnani, his most famous prot?g?, is at least a little worried he might be leaving.

"I would be really sorry to see him go, because we've played together for seven years," Bargnani said in the interview. "I hope he doesn't leave, though I don't know what he'll decide."

Gherardini was the general manager at Italian club Benetton Treviso when he signed a then-unknown Bargnani as a teenager from Rome. The multiskilled seven-footer rose to prominence playing at Benetton and when Gherardini was hired by Colangelo it was no surprise the team used the No. 1 pick in the 2006 draft on Bargnani.

Reached in Chicago yesterday where members of the Raptors front office are gathered for the NBA's predraft combine, Gherardini said Bargnani's concerns are overblown.

"It's not a secret that when I came to Toronto I had a three-year contract," Gherardini said. "And Andrea is speaking from his heart when he says he hopes I stay, which is nice. It shows that we have a good relationship. I finally have a good agent."

Gherardini is among the most respected Basketball professionals in Europe, having built Benetton into a powerhouse. He would doubtless be sought after by European teams, but sources say it's likely he'll re-sign with the Raptors .

Bargnani's interview had other nuggets.

He said his third NBA season, in which he reached career highs in every significant statistical category, was a good one, made better when he became a starter just after Christmas.

His production soared once he became a fixture at centre in January - he averaged 19 points a game in that role - second only to Chris Bosh in team scoring.

"When I was permanently [a starter] I started to play better," Bargnani said. "Something changed in my head last summer, but not having a lot of minutes on court, I didn't get the chance to show it."

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: May 30, 2009


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