Is Andrea Bargnani Trade Another Shortsighted New York Knicks Disaster?

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterJuly 1, 2013

DALLAS, TX - NOVEMBER 07:  Andrea Bargnani #7 of the Toronto Raptors at American Airlines Center on November 7, 2012 in Dallas, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Remain calm, people.

Based on some of the reactions I've read from Knicks fans, you'd think their team just acquired a ticking time bomb. 

Andrea Bargnani doesn't exactly have the most glowing reputation; you won't find too many of his jerseys walking the streets or Fatheads pasted in dorm rooms. Most of that has to do with not living up to the hype as a No. 1 overall pick, though playing in Toronto obviously factors into the equation as well. 

So when the Knicks deal three players and three picks for a guy known to be softer than Kleenex, chances are it's not going to sit well with a frustrated and anxious fanbase.

But if you dig a little bit deeper into this transaction, you'll find that it's not as horrific as it might seem.

By sending Steve Novak and Marcus Camby to Toronto, the Knicks actually improved their short-term talent and added long-term flexibility.

Let's start with the latter. Though it's still two summers away, franchises are always thinking big-picture in order to maximize rare windows of opportunity.

In the summer of 2015, the Knicks will now have options.

Only Knicks under contract in 2015-16 are Raymond Felton ($3.95 mil) and (presumably) Hardaway Jr.

— Howard Beck (@HowardBeckNYT) July 1, 2013

With Novak's contract off the books, that saves them roughly $4 million extra in 2015.

And that's not a bad time to have some extra room. Rajon Rondo, Tony Parker, LaMarcus Aldridge, Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and Omer Asik could all be unrestricted free agents. Re-signing Carmelo Anthony and bringing in a new supporting cast of stars will likely be the game plan when the time comes.

Bargnani's expiring contract next season could also be a valuable trading chip to work with.

As for the short term, there shouldn't be any argument that the Knicks upgraded their talent. He may not be a stud, but Bargnani is a more threatening offensive player than either of the two New York gave up.

It's not as if the Knicks had a platter of scorers to choose from. With minimal room for free agents, New York added a guy who's proved he can put the ball in the hole.

No, his shooting percentages and numbers haven't been very flattering as of late. But sometimes a change of scenery is in order. Bargnani didn't just become a worse shooter overnight. It feels like this guy has spent the majority of his career posted up on the trading block. A fresh start on a winning team that actively pursued him could right the ship.

Bargnani should be a lot more effective and efficient when he's not relied upon as a top-two option.

And though I value first-round picks as much as the next guy, the first-rounder the Knicks gave up already had the Nuggets' prints on it. It was a pick Denver had the right to swap, meaning New York wasn't getting a top-20 pick no matter how awful they were.

Besides, smaller-market teams build through the draft. A team like the Knicks isn't going to lose sleep over a future No. 25 pick if it means they can be more flexible free-agent spenders.

And though losing second-round picks isn't fun, in certain cases, they're expendable.

Bargnani isn't going to win New York a championship, but that doesn't mean this move was a disaster. General manager Glen Grunwald is looking to improve the current roster without jeopardizing its future.

He may not rebound or defend, but don't look at Bargnani as a soft big man—look at him as the 7'0'' small forward he is.

When healthy, Bargnani can stretch the floor and score the ball. It was only two years ago he averaged 19.5 points per game (21.4 points per game in 2010-11), and at 27 years old, it's not like his skills or body are washed up.

If used the right way, Bargani's scoring touch can be an asset to a roster that needs cheap yet effective weapons. It will be on coach Mike Woodson to figure out how to maximize his strengths and hide his glaring weaknesses.