It's July 1st, and with free agency underway, the Knicks must have felt as though the proper response to Nets' acquisition of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry was to acquire Andrea Bargnani from the Raptors.
Not exactly what you would call a blockbuster deal, New York shipped Steve Novak and Marcus Camby (and three future draft picks --- one first and two second rounders) off to Toronto in exchange for the Italian Stallion. According to Newsday, Quentin Richardson will also be signed and traded to the Raptors in order to make the deal work financially.
Bargnani has impressive shooting range for a big man, and can score in bunches. He didn't exactly do that last season, however, only averaging 12.7 points while being limited to 35 games.
The big man is a former first overall draft selection and 20 plus point per game scorer. But his inconsistencies both on and off the court (with regard to staying healthy) are a cause for concern, especially given the over $20 million Bargnani is owed over the next two years.
Bargnani isn't exactly the star and/or crucial missing piece fans were hoping the Knicks would acquire this offseason. In fact, he doesn't exactly fill a specific need at all. Bargnani's soft presence defensively doesn't exactly fit in with what the Knicks aim to do, and he'll likely push Carmelo Anthony back to the small forward position, which doesn't appear to be ideal. But he can score the basketball from all around the court. There's no doubt about that.
His acquisition comes at the expense of two players who quickly became expendable anyway. The Marcus Camby experiment (part II) didn't work out because he too had trouble staying on the court and making much of an impact. Due to Novak's inability to keep things moving and get himself open on the court, he appeared to lose minutes to Chris Copeland and other options down the stretch last season.
Given that Bargnani's contract is up in two seasons (Novak's continued for another three, Camby for another two as well), can this move be considered a low-risk, high-reward opportunity? The future second round picks can be purchased again if need be when the times comes. Giving up the first round pick, however, is truly how the Knicks bit the bullet on this one, however.
It'll be interesting to see how Bargnani fits in. As noted, playing him with Anthony would thrust the superstar out of the power forward position. Are the Knicks preparing themselves for potentially losing off the bench scoring options like Copeland or even J.R. Smith? Will Bargnani's acquisition soon signal the end of Amar'e Stoudemire's time in orange and blue? What this means for the rest of the organization remains to be seen.