The New York Knicks completed a trade over the weekend for former number 1 pick and all-around terrible basketball player, Andrea Bargnani from the Toronto Raptors. Not only did the Knicks trade for Bargnani’s hefty $10 million per year contract, but they paid 3 draft picks (1 first rounder and 2 second rounders) for the privilege. Bargnani is a 7 footer who plays like a (bad) shooting guard. He doesn’t rebound the basketball, he shoots poorly from distance, despite a reputation for being a “stretch” big man, and he plays poor team defense (he’s actually a solid man-to-man post defender, despite his overall terrible impact on the defensive end).
This feels like a huge overreaction from the Knicks to the Nets blockbuster trade on draft night. But it’s not a reaction that really makes the Knicks any better on the floor. In many ways, Steve Novak and Marcus Camby, the players New York surrendered for the Italian big man, are better players than Bargnani. Camby is a better defensive presence and scores more efficiently, while taking many fewer shots. Novak is a specialist shooter, but he’s actually, you know, good at shooting the basketball, which is not true of our man Andrea. Even still, this trade, were it just a swap of on-court players, might be justifiable. Bargnani is a former first overall pick, with size, who has shown flashes of the potential that lead him to be drafted so high. Maybe a change of scenery is what he needs and he will finally come close to living up to his contract. But the Knicks needn’t have surrendered the draft picks they did in order to grab him.
Giving up the rights to future first round draft picks under the new collective bargaining agreement is the height of foolishness, unless you’re getting a proven star player in return. Andrea Bargnani could hardly be further from a star player. This is a bad, bad deal for the Knicks and they will almost certainly regret it in the future. This is now the second time that Masai Ujiri, the head man in Toronto and former head man in Denver, has fleeced the Knicks of valuable assets for a “name” player. At least last time the Knicks got Carmelo Anthony, a star player who falls short of being a superstar. This time they’ve sacrificed future assets for a player whose contract was thought by many to be such an albatross that it would necessitate the trading of assets for the Raptors to be rid of it. A word of advice to Glen Grunwald: the next time Masai Ujiri calls you, don’t answer the phone.