The opening of the new Foot Locker store in Milano was the perfect opportunity to meet with the star of Toronto Raptors Andrea Bargnani. Il Mago talked about the NBA lockout, his future and the future of Toronto Raptors, LeBron James and the Italian NT which will be playing Eurobasket 2011 in Lithuania.
In few hours, the NBA should officially announce the lockout. Did Bargnani already think about what to do if the lockout will last until January or February? Will you try to sign for an European team as some NBAers already said?
Actually, I don't know if we can sign for European teams. The NBA has yet to decide if the players under contract can sign somewhere else during the lockout period or not. I will continue to practice hard to be ready for the start of the new season, whenever it will be. I really hope that both parts will step back a little to resolve the issue. Otherwise we all lose.
Dwane Casey, new head coach of Toronto Raptors, compared you to Dirk Nowitzki and said you will play PF, as you like. What Raptors need to improve to be competitive?
First of all, I am very happy for the words of the coach and I am happy I can play my most congenial role. Regarding the Raptors, now it is useless to talk about market considering that with the lockout all the negotiations will be stopped. For sure, we need a center (Toronto Raptors picked a center in the last NBA Draft, the Lithuanian Jonas Valanciunas, but the player will arrive in the NBA in 2012 due to buyout issues with Lietuvos Rytas).
Do you regret the trade failed at the last minute during in the middle of the 2010-11 regular season that would have taken Tyson Chandler and Boris Diaw to Toronto? Raptors would have been a different team?
You never know how it would go. We kept Jose who is a great player.
What do you think about the criticism LeBron received? Is it right or excessive?
It was not excessive. He is the best player in the world. It is obvious that if he doesn't win everyone is surprised and start criticizing him. As I said, he remains the best player along with Kobe.
Now we can talk about Eurobasket 2011. Yesterday coach Pianigiani named the Italian preliminary squad. What is the goal of the team? To get the pass for Olympic Game in London 2012?
The addition of Danilo Gallinari is very important for us. He is a versatile player who can play in small forward and power forward position in Europe. And, if needed, also as center. He can really make the difference. We are almost the same group of players as last year. The first goal is to pass the first round, the pass for London is something we are not thinking about now. We have a lot of enthusiasm. Finally we play a real tournament and not just qualification. I can't wait to join my teammates and start the adventure with them. We have to continue on the path taken last year.