The cornerstone's eyes were open wide, his expression no longer blank, distant or uncomfortable. Andrea Bargnani stood where he has been at the end of almost every season, trying to explain what went wrong. But this time it felt and he looked entirely different.

"I came here six years ago and I was just a kid," Bargnani said, after his exit press conference interview. "The first thing was language. My English wasn't good. It's different now. Maybe English is my first language now, Italian my second."

We stop for a moment in mid-sentence. That is was what constitutes a Bargnani joke. We chuckle and move on.

"I came here at 20, now I'm 26 about to be 27. You grow up a lot. It feels good to get your game to this point, to do the things I want to do on the court. I don't like losing. Nobody likes losing. But I'm happy with my career. Every year, I've gotten better. It's not good to look back. The first two years, I didn't play much. One year I played about 23 minutes a game for whatever reason. That slowed down my growth.

"But this year was a losing year but not a wasted year. There's a difference in that."