By Kenneth Teape
This past week the New York Knicks and Toronto Raptors agreed to a pretty significant trade that will rid each team of contracts they did not want. It was basically a swap for each team’s mistakes as the Knicks will receive former number one overall pick Andrea Bargnani for Marcus Camby, Steve Novak, a 2016-first round draft pick and two second round draft picks.
The reactions of every player were different and spanned from being ecstatic to disappointed. Bargnani said, “I am thrilled to become a New York Knick and look forward to becoming a part of their storied franchise.”
Novak was very thankful to the Knicks and their fans, sending out a tweet via his twitter account.
Camby was disappointed with the trade from the Knicks. Via his agent Rick Kaplan to ESPNNewYork.com he provided this statement:
“It’s unfortunate that I wasn’t given a meaningful opportunity to contribute last season in New York. I was really looking forward to the upcoming year as a chance to show the organization what they missed out on last year, and pushing our team towards the Finals.
“I have nothing but positive things to say about the city of Toronto and its great fans, having been drafted by the Raptors 17 years ago. Given that my goal at this point in my career is to have a shot at a championship, however, I’ll have to evaluate my options going forward. I’ve enjoyed a great career, and under the right circumstances I hope to continue making an impact in the league.”
This is a trade that financially has a lot of bearing on the Knicks. First was that General Manager Glen Grunwald admitted two mistakes; the overpaying of the 39-year old Camby last offseason and also was mistaken to give Novak a four-year deal. Camby was plagued by injuries all season and Novak was not the sharpshooter the Knicks had envisioned him being. Both fell out of favor of head coach Mike Woodson as the season wore on. So Grunwald dumped the remaining $7.5 million and two years of Camby in addition to the $11 million and three years left of Novak.
Do not get confused; the Knicks did not save money in bringing in Bargnani and his $23 million he is owed for the next two years. Bur bringing in Bargnani and moving Novak cleared up the books for the Knicks 2015. After the 2014-2015 season the Knicks will have Amar’e Stoudemire ($23.4 million), Carmelo Anthony ($23.5 million), Tyson Chandler ($14.6 million) and Bargnani ($12 million) all come off the books. This will give the Knicks huge cap space to rebuild their team around Anthony again, assuming he stays, because he has an opt-out clause in his contract after 2013-2014 season.
On the court this next season though it is anyone’s guess what Bargnani will bring. He is coming here with the assumption that he will be a floor spacer that will allow the likes of Anthony and Stoudemire to operate in the middle of the court and for Chandler to roam to clean things up.
Last season Bargnani was a disaster, missing 47 games and averaged only 12.7 points on 39.9 percent shooting and 3.7 rebounds. He shot an underwhelming 30.9 percent from the three-point line as well. The 27-year old Italian seven-footer has much better career numbers at 15.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and shooting percentages of 43.7 from the field overall and 36.1 from the three point line.
Bargnani on paper is a poor man’s Dirk Nowitzki, as he is one of the most versatile power forwards in the league. He can score in a number of different ways and has range on his jump shot. Coupled with Anthony, Stoudemire and Chandler, this looks like one of the most dynamic front courts in the NBA.
That is all on paper though and Bargnani does not come without faults. He has been injury prone the last two seasons, missing a combined 82 games. Add that to Stoudemire and the Knicks have some major red flags at their power forward position. Woodson will have to figure out how the power forward position will look, as the Knicks had success having Anthony there last season in smaller lineups. It would not make much sense having Bargnani and Stoudemire come off the bench together though. That would be redundant and hurt the Knicks in other areas.
Bargnani is as soft as they come inside. He struggled through injuries last year, but just to put into perspective he is basically a seven-foot guard. His rebounding rates are amongst the worst for big men and would come to a team with two guards in Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith who rebounded better than him last year.
That is why the rotation and lineup combinations Woodson uses will be key. He cannot let players like Bargnani and Stoudemire be exposed on the court and needs to surround them with the best players for them to succeed. For Bargnani, that would most likely be having him in a buddy system with Chandler, as he could cover up some of his deficiencies. Bringing in another big man such as Elton Brand would help the Knicks immensely, as he is another player capable of knocking down a jump shot and can help cover up the lack of rebounding and defense Bargnani and Stoudemire offer.
Bringing Bargnani into the fold though is a good move for the Knicks. With Stoudemire rumored to already be on a minutes limit, and not playing in back-to-back games, it is imperative the Knicks have capable options to replace him. Bargnani makes the Knicks better this season from the standpoint they traded away two players they weren’t using for one that could be in the starting lineup.
Something that is overlooked as well is the fact he will not be a franchise savior with the Knicks. Anthony is already in place as the star player, so Bargnani can fall into more of a supporting role player. The immense pressure of being a number one overall pick, and turning around a franchise looked to weigh on Bargnani. In New York he won’t have any of those expectations looming over him and he can just come in and do what he does best in, shoot the ball. Most nights he will be at best the 3rd or 4th scoring option behind Anthony, Smith and maybe Shumpert. Shumpert is in the convo because he said he is ready to take the next step forward, as the Knicks want him to be a bigger part of the team offensively.
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