The New York Knicks are putting the finishing touches on a deal to acquire former No. 1 pick Andrea Bargnani, a versatile 7-footer they hope will help them keep up with the busy Brooklyn Nets.
The Knicks just finished the team’s best regular season in more than a decade, but struggled in the playoffs and fell to the Indiana Pacers in the second round. For a team constructed to challenge the Miami Heat for the Eastern Conference crown, the exit could only be viewed as a disappointment.
To make matters worse, the Knicks appeared to be falling behind the crosstown Brooklyn Nets, who just acquired Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett from the Celtics for draft picks and a host of player contracts (most prominently Kris Humphries).
With Andrea Bargnani, the New York Knicks are taking something of a gamble. He has a strong game, being described as the poor man’s Dirk Nowitzki, but has struggled with injuries. Bargnani missed 82 games over the past two seasons.
Andrea Bargnani might be a worthwhile risk for a team with a well-established power forward, but the New York Knicks have the oft-injured Amar’e Stoudemire ahead of Bargnani on the depth chart. Analysts say it’s a dangerous proposition for a team that woudl have to best talented forwards like Chris Bosh and Garnett to win the Eastern Conference.
Yahoo Sports’ writer Adrian Wojnarowski says the Knicks were prepared to send center Marcus Camby and sharp-shooting guard Steve Novak to Toronto along with several draft picks. The trade is still pending approval from the NBA.
Bargnani would be something of an insurance policy if J.R. Smith leaves the team via free agency. Though the Knicks can offer a $5.58 contract with early rights, Smith is getting interest from several teams.
For the New York Knicks, Andrea Barnani appears to be a risk well worth taking. If he stays health, the team will have the strength to keep up with the Brooklyn Nets and help erase the bitter ending to the 2012-13 season.