According to Newsday, the Knicks will be sending Steve Novak, Marcus Camby, Quentin Richardson and three draft picks (including one first-rounder) to Toronto in exchange for the former No. 1 overall pick.
Naturally, the trade has caused quite a stir amongst Knicks fans, but let's take a look at what the deal really means for the franchise moving forward.
Before the trade, the Knicks were going to pay Novak and Camby roughly $8 million to play very limited roles off the bench. They'll now be paying $3 million extra for Bargnani, who will be able to contribute a lot more, spreading the floor and scoring in the post.
At this point, that extra $3 million in salary means very little to the Knicks. They were already over the luxury tax threshold, so this doesn't actually change their ability to sign players in free agency.
In fact, this move actually helps the Knicks financially, as they will save $4 million in 2015, when Bargnani's contract expires (along with almost every other player on the team). Novak was scheduled to be on the books, but now the Knicks will only have Iman Shumpert, Raymond Felton and Tim Hardaway Jr. under contract that year.
More to the point, Bargnani, Amar'e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler will all have expiring contracts next summer, which really increases the Knicks' ability to re-tool after this season.
Even looking at this year alone, the Knicks now have the flexibility to use their taxpayers' exception of $3 million on someone other than Chris Copeland. New York has a forward who can spread the floor in Bargnani, and instead can focus on adding one of the premier backup point guards on the market, like Will Bynum or Nate Robinson.
In terms of the on-court fit, the signing of Bargnani allows Carmelo Anthony to move back to small forward. He excelled playing at the 4, but because of Bargnani's ability to shoot the three, Melo will still benefit from the same spacing when he plays in the post.
Bargnani was obviously a bust with the No. 1 overall pick, but in New York, he won't be playing under the pressure of having to live up to that tag. He's just a role player now, on a team that needs the few things he has succeeded at so far in his career.
Though Bargnani will be most useful as a three-point shooter, he's not just a one-dimensional player. He drives to the basket well for a 7-footer, and has the skill to score in the post on occasion. Now that he's not the focus of defensive game plans, we should see him become a more efficient scorer.
As much as we've liked to criticise him over the course of his career, Bargnani is still a very talented player. He hasn't managed to make the best of his talent—with his drive mainly coming into question—but given a chance for a fresh start he could begin to make improvements.
If not, the Knicks are still getting a decent role player at the very least. He'll contribute to the team more than Novak or Camby would have, so in the short-term New York has definitely upgraded its roster with this move.
The only real downside to this move is that the Knicks are giving up a first round pick in 2016. Novak and Camby were expendable—if not undesirable—and second round picks can easily be acquired with cash.
New York is now in a position where it has only one first round pick over the next three years, which is never an ideal situation to be in, whether you are a win-now team or not.
With that said, the pick they are losing would have been in the late-20's. The Denver Nuggets had the right to swap that pick (as part of the Carmelo Anthony trade), so it's not like the Knicks are giving up a lottery pick. And, for all we know, the Knicks could find a way to pick up a first-rounder over the course of the next three years.
The important thing to understand is that the Knicks only really care about two things: the current season and the 2015 offseason. They are a win-now team, but they understand that they'll need to retain some flexibility for rebuilding in the near-future.
That's why the Knicks have made sure they will have almost every player off the books in 2015, with the only exceptions being two promising young players in Shumpert and Hardaway, and a decent, cheap point guard in Felton.
New York will have $50 million to spend that offseason, and that doesn't even include the full mid-level exception, the bi-annual exception and any potential sign-and-trades. They'll likely use them to re-sign Melo, add another marquee free agent and build a solid supporting cast. It's also worth noting that they'll actually have a first-round pick that year.
In the short-term, the Knicks now need a defensive-minded center to back up Chandler, but due to age and injury Camby was never going to be that player. New York has the rest of the offseason to find a player, so this really doesn't change much.
This trade is essentially Bargnani for a late-20's pick. He may have been a bust as the No. 1 overall pick, but if you can get a player who averages 18 points per game for his career that late in the draft, you'd be happy.
It's easy to overreact to a trade like this, but the Knicks got better (albeit only marginally), gave themselves some flexibility regarding Copeland and cleared up some extra cap space for rebuilding in 2015. Mark this one down as a win.
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