Former first overall pick, Andrea Bargnani, is on his way to New York after a deal between the Knicks and Raptors was completed early Monday. The trade has led to debate on the merits and faults of the deal. Here are three different perspectives on the deal:
1. Did the Knicks just get a second Amare Stoudemire?
Both Bargnani and Stoudemire on first glance seem to be similar players at this point. Once upon a time, Amare was a better defender and above average rebounder; those days are over. Averaging only 5.0 REB per game last season, that is probably as good as Stoudemire can do going forward, now that reports state he will be held to a 20-minute maximum in 2013-14.
Bargnani has always been one of the NBA’s poorest defensive big men and has rarely brought it on the boards, only averaging 4.8 rebound a game over his career. Like Amare, he has never seen strong numbers in the turnover categories either.
But there are a few places where they differ which could help both guys. Bargnani is a capable 3-point shooter, hitting 36.1% from the field in his career. He is also strong underneath the basket. As this heat map of Bargnani’s 2010-11 season from Basketball-Reference shows, he is a threat near the hoop [.584% from 3 feet or less]:
Between his inside game and outside (if they are clicking), he may help out with spacing for Stoudemire, splitting defenders in the paint or drawing them out to downtown when he is out there.
2. Was Trading 2016 1st Round Pick A Disaster?
Even before anyone started to break down the advantages and disadvantages of adding Bargnani to the lineup, fans and writers looked at the Knicks dealing yet another 1st round pick in a deal.
The big difference is, this isn’t the 00’s-decade Knicks. This is not a team looking for any hope in the midst of the post-Van Gundy/Isiah Thomas Era. This is a team trying to make a run at an NBA Title while their window is still open.
With a cap situation allowing little wiggle room, this is the only type of deal GM Glen Grunwald could make; taking one person’s defective goods for ours. The Raptors defective good has more upside, so we had to part with more than just contracts.
The deal unquestionably gave the team at least more potential, but looking straight at the pick itself, it is not the sizable loss most Knicks fans are prone to think.
2016 is far away: There is the 2013-14 season, 2014 off-season, 2014-15 season, 2015 off-season, and 2015-16 season all happening before we ever need to worry about that pick. Three full seasons and two off where tons of changes with the roster and franchise could occur.
One change that probably will not occur is with Carmelo Anthony, who as the star of this team and franchise player, should be written in stone as staying going forward. You have to figure with the improvements he made last season, a team with him alone could make the playoffs in the perpetually shallow Eastern Conference, which will always make said pick fall outside of the lottery. On top of this, you have to figure with whatever changes, this team with Melo should be strong enough to be close to the top of the East, making the pick always near the end of the 1st round.
This fact leaves the importance of the pick and the possibility of the player taken with it less important, because odds are they would not be a game-changer for a free agency focused team.
A pick that late, is also prime for being purchased, as many big city teams have done in the past.
A final deterrent to the idea of pick being important that has been less discussed in the past 48 hours is that it really is not ours.
As part of the trade which brought Anthony to New York, the Knicks gave the Nuggets the right to switch picks with them in 2016. This means if the pick were of any real value in 2016, it still would not be New York’s anyway.
3. Did The Knicks Fail Because They Did Not Help Their Cap Situation?
Barely any change occurred to the cap because of the deal, so some believe that it was not worth making the trade. This is not true.
First, it does help the cap because a 4th year of Steve Novak’s deal is suddenly gone. This now allows the Knicks to have Tyson Chandler, Amare Stoudemire, and Bargnani’s [if he opts-in] expiring deals to trade before or during the ’14-15 season. This could potentially allow them to rebuild a second time around Melo, perhaps this time in a way more suited for him.
Second, the Knicks turned two benched players (who were seeing few minutes, if at all) into an actual player who could help. Lost in his injuries and negativity flowing from Toronto is a player who has 3-times averaged over 17 points per game over a season. If he can stay healthy, this will be a player, in a 3rd-5th level role, who can contribute to an offense which went cold during several stretches (including the playoffs) in ’12-13.
Lastly, if the best-case scenario occurs and Bargnani can have a JR Smith-type season, he would probably do something similar to Smith and opt-out of the final year of his contract, looking for one last multi-year cash grab. If that is the case, the Knicks will have indeed helped their cap, to a tune of freeing $11 million from it.