Believe it or not, there’s actually a future for Andrea Bargnani with the New York Knicks, despite all the criticism the Italian player has received during his time with them and before, playing for the Toronto Raptors.
Bargnani is a free agent at the end of this season, but he doesn’t want to head back to Europe, where he can easily grab a spot with one of the top teams and possibly get a salary that’s superior to what he’ll be making on his next deal, that will be nowhere near the $11.5 million he’s making this season with the Knicks.
A number one overall draft pick in 2006, Bargnani wasn’t exactly a popular figure in Toronto during the last couple of years in Canada. Always a talented big man offensively, his weaknesses and perceived lack of effort have always made him a target for the media and fans. There were actual celebrations when the Knicks traded for him.
And he hasn’t done well for the Knicks, when he’s actually been healthy. Last season Bargnani 13.3 points per game, carrying on with the trend of his reduced offensive production since a long injury during his final season with the Raptors. This year? He has played in just 18 games, averaging 14.2 points a night with 4.3 rebounds. But these numbers get blown up due to how bad the team around him is.
So do the Knicks actually bite and sign him? It all depends on supply and demand. Bargnani is useful in a way, but it depends on how much of the cap space he’s going to eat up, and what the Knicks have in front of them on the market. Bargnani likes what he’s seeing from the Phil Jackson plan (really???), but the Knicks have made it clear they’re pleased with what they’re seeing from Bargnani.
More likely than not, Bargnani remains in the NBA – he’s still good enough to be an NBA player. Just not in a big role (more than 20-25 minutes), and not for a cumbersome salary that proves to be a major cap hit. Bargnani had some nice days in the NBA, almost a star for a season or two. But he was overall a disappointment in Toronto, and he hasn’t changed that perception during his two seasons with the Knicks.