How is it that a team can enter the NBA Playoffs as the Eastern Conference Number 2 Seed and not seal up the obvious weaknesses on the roster? If you are a lifetime fan of the New York Knicks, you have seen the offseason become a series of laughable blunders year after year. Large, pointless contracts to shockingly bad players and more-than-questionable free agent signings leaving the roster the only NBA team in history to equal the average age of the Golden Girls cast, have been the norm. This season, the Knicks ownership went another direction, bringing in Andrea Bargnani to bolster the roster in ways that not even the most basketball-savvy Knicks fan can understand. Somewhere in the New York Knicks mission statement is a sentence stating a hatred for 1st Round Draft Picks.
In the latest edition of “Let’s Refuse to Make Sensible Moves”, the “wow” move made by the Knicks brass was bringing in Andrea Bargnani in exchange for two role players, a sign-and-trade player, a first round pick in 2016, and the second round picks in 2014 and 2017. All this for a player that his present team would have taken a trade involving three slices of government cheese, an RC Cola and Lavor Postell just to unload him. Being one that would rather hear the bad news first, lets look at what positivity could come from this trade.
Bargnani is a flexible player when healthy. His time in Toronto was spent flexing between the 4 and 5 spots on the floor and in the rarest occasions, could move into a short spell at the 3. He has a decent enough shot to make him viable to score from just about any spot inside the 20 to 25 foot range. His lifetime field goal percentage of 44% is not a bad statistic. This could force many Power Forwards to guard him further out on the perimeter and allow Chandler more room to work offensively. He can also fill in for Chandler at the 5 at times until Jeremy Tyler is healthy. It should also allow Melo to play much less of the 4 position he was forced into many times throughout last season. It seems as though this is the reason Grunwald and company felt this was a good trade, which brings us to the negatives.
Standing at 7’0, Bargnani should be able to provide a great deal of assistance on both the offensive and defensive glass. The simple fact is, he does not have the aggressive nature you would hope for inside. He has averaged less than 5 rebounds per game since being taken 1st overall in 2006. As seems to be the trend with many European players, Bargnani is a finesse 7-footer. Watching him play game in and game out, he simply does not fight down low or on the boards. If any of this sounds familiar, that’s because you are a Knicks fan. We already have this from a current player on the roster and he is making 22 million next year for the “miracle” of 15 minutes a night.
In a dream scenario, Bargnani comes into the season hungry and wants to prove the critics wrong. He puts in the hard work and extra hours fine tuning the weaker points of his game. The knock on him since the 2006 draft is that he simply does not want to put in the work it takes to become an elite player in the NBA. The lack of leadership the current Knicks roster contains will not contribute to his growth, so it will be on Bargnani and his motivation to have the final say on this trade.
Until then, we will probably blame you for anything and everything that goes wrong for 82 games.
A big thank you to K. C. Jones who is now a regular writer for the New York Knicks Podcast