The Bobcats are increasingly anxious to trade Ben Gordon, and that's sparked their interest in a trade with the Raptors for Andrea Bargnani, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Stein believes the Raptors would be unlikely to go for a Gordon-for-Bargnani swap, citing the presence of Terrence Ross and Alan Anderson (Twitter links). Even though Gordon would be easier for the Raptors to take back than Carlos Boozer, whom the Bulls are offering, the Raptors aren't going to trade their former No. 1 overall pick just for the sake of unloading him, Stein tweets.
Gordon, Charlotte's highest-paid player, is making $12.4MM this year, and has a $13.2MM player option for 2013/14. Bargnani earns $10MM this season, gets a raise to $10.75MM next year and has an $11.5MM early-termination option for 2014/15. His deal includes a 5% trade kicker that the Bobcats would have to pay, but that probably wouldn't be an issue, since they'd be taking back less salary than they'd be sending out. Gordon wouldn't make the Raptors a taxpaying team this year, but it could push them farther into tax territory next season, since they're already set for a payroll of $74.349MM. They have some flexibility with options and non-guaranteed contracts, but taking on either Gordon or Boozer, who makes an average of $15.7MM per year through 2015, could give Toronto difficulty.
Gordon, acquired in a trade with the Pistons last summer, has clashed with coach Mike Dunlap amidst the fewest minutes per game in his nine-year career. He hasn't started a game all year, but he's seeing more shot attempts than in his last two seasons with Detroit, and is shooting 40.9% from behind the arc, a few ticks above his 40.6% career average. It seems reasonable that the Bobcats could get something of value for him, but his outsized contract, as well as the team's clear motivation to send him away, could be driving down his price.
The Raptors, too, seem to have encountered difficulty as they attempt to trade Bargnani, who's posted a career-worst 40.9% field goal percentage in an injury-plagued first half of the season. In addtion to the Bobcats and Bulls, he's also been linked to the Sixers in recent weeks.