Sunday, June 30, 2013
Reaction: Knicks near trade for Bargnani
By Jared Zwerling
The New York Knicks are in talks to finalize a trade for forward Andrea Bargnani, which would send Steve Novak, Marcus Camby and a 2016 first-round pick to the Toronto Raptors. A league source said the deal will likely be made official July 10, when the NBA's moratorium period ends.
Bargnani, 27, was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2006 draft. He scored a career-high 21.4 points per game in 2010-11 and averaged a career-best 6.2 boards in 2009-10.
Andrea Bargnani has averaged 15.2 points and 4.8 rebounds over seven seasons.
On paper, the Knicks would receive a poor man's Dirk Nowitzki. Bargnani, a 7-footer, is one of the most versatile power forwards in the game, as he can score inside and outside -- in the post, spotting up or off the dribble. However, he has missed 82 games the past two seasons due to injuries. That, coupled with Amar'e Stoudemire's health issues, doesn't offer a positive projection for Knicks power forwards.
But if both Bargnani and Stoudemire stave off injury setbacks, the Knicks will have one of the most talented frontcourts in the league. That includes Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler.
Would the trade persuade Mike Woodson to move Melo back to starting small forward? Neither Bargnani nor Stoudemire will likely want to come off the bench together. Presumably, Stoudemire would get the first crack at starting because of his tenure in New York, and Bargnani could be the primary frontcourt scorer in the second unit. J.R. Smith, if he returns, could continue to be the sixth man, holding down the backcourt.
Offensively, Woodson would have options utilizing Bargnani. The key is the team's flow, spacing and screen sets in order to prevent Anthony, Bargnani, Stoudemire and Smith from running too much isolation. If plays are executed creatively and appropriately, the Knicks would be one of the most dangerous scoring teams in the league. On the defensive end, however, they would have to make a collective commitment. As the roster is currently constructed, there are more offensively minded players who have individual defensive woes.
While the Knicks lose Novak, arguably the best 3-point shooter in the game, they would get a stud marksman in Bargnani, who has much more skilled offensively. Camby will turn 40 years old next March and played just 24 games in 2012-13, averaging 10.4 minutes.
Another positive: Bargnani's expiring contract heading into the 2014-15 season could be trade bait or a salary that would come off the books in the summer of 2015 -- along with the contracts of Anthony, Stoudemire and Chandler. So if the Knicks don't win a title by '15, they'll have plenty of cap flexibility to rebuild.
In the short term, Bargnani, if healthy, upgrades the Knicks -- and they needed a boost after Brooklyn went all out to acquire Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry, who each have championship pedigree.