The first big move of the offseason for the New York Knicks came early in July when they traded for Toronto Raptors power forward Andrei Bargnani. The former first overall pick has failed to impress since being drafted in 2006. Bargnani is still undoubtedly a talented player, but after becoming such a point of frustration in Toronto, can he really prosper and make an impact on a Knicks franchise that is trying to seriously contend in the Eastern conference after a disappointing second round playoff exit in 2013.
The trade sends Steve Novak, Marcus Camby, Quentin Richardson, a 2016 first round pick and second round picks in 2014 and 2017. The Knicks get a couple of big veteran salaries off their books, while the Raptors clear out a player that they weren’t pleased with while getting a couple of assets in return.
It’s worth remembering that while Bargnani has never been the franchise player he was projected to be six or seven years ago, he did average 21.4 points per game 2010-11 and 19.5 per game the following season. He has good size, should still be a better at rebounding and is a genuine scoring threat from the post game. He has just one more season left on his contract, so he fits into the plan of trying to compete for one more season and then potentially blowing the team up ahead of the 2015-16 season.
The fact is that the Knicks have lost very little in this trade. However, it also feels like they haven’t gained a tremendous amount either. A lot will depend upon Bargnani and how he handles New York City. It’s difficult to bet that he will do especially well.
The problem really is that it’s just hard to see the Knicks seriously competing. They didn’t look like serious competitors against the Indiana Pacers during the 2013 NBA playoffs. The Pacers and Chicago Bulls should both be better next season and of course the Miami Heat are back. On top of that, division rivals the Brooklyn Nets added Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce and could start the 2013-14 season as the division favorites.
New York gambled on veterans last season and it didn’t pay off. This trade is another example of this franchise throwing away assets on a player that really isn’t likely to make a significant impact on this team.
Throw in the fact that Bargnani plays at power forward competing for playing time with Amare Stoudemire to complicate an already difficult situation for coach Mike Woodson and it doesn’t feel like things are moving forward effectively for the Knicks. Only time will tell of course.