Former No. 1 overall pick Andrea Bargnani had a season to forget with the New York Knicks last year, but he will get another chance with the team after accepting a player option for the 2014-15 NBA season.
Bargnani's decision to return to the Knicks was reported by ESPN's Marc Stein:
Not exactly a surprise, but I'm told Andrea Bargnani has indeed informed Knicks he's opting in for next season just like Amare Stoudemire— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 22, 2014
Stein provides more details on the news:
Instead of having til June 29 or June 30 like most players, Melo & Amare & Bargnani all have to formally decide on next season by Wednesday— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 22, 2014
Amare/Bargnani obviously opting to stick with their current contracts while Knicks brace for word tomorrow that Melo is indeed opting out— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 22, 2014
The 7'0" center last suited up for the Knicks on Jan. 22 against the Philadelphia 76ers. During that matchup, Bargnani suffered an elbow injury that kept him out the remainder of the 2013-14 season.
While the injury was no laughing matter, the dunk attempt by the Italian was an unfortunate one. Cover your eyes, Knicks fans.
His first season with the Knicks might not have been considered a huge success, but he still contributed fairly decent numbers. Averaging 13.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game, Bargnani was a productive player, but certainly didn't become a fan favorite.
A wide margin of Knicks fans wanted to see Bargnani gone after one season in New York, as Ian Begley of ESPN.com notes:
As for Bargnani, 92 percent of the 12,836 readers who voted would like to see him in another uniform next season. ... The Knicks would need to trade Bargnani or buy him out if they want him off the team before the 2014-15 season opener.
Bargnani struggled to find his footing in his first season as a Knick. His numbers were solid, but there are other stats that show the Knicks were a better team when Bargnani was on the bench. New York was 15-27 when he was healthy; the Knicks went 22-18 after he suffered a season-ending elbow injury.
Needless to say, this might not be the decision fans in New York fans wanted to hear.
One Western Conference executive shared his thoughts on the deal that brought Bargnani to New York, per Marc Berman of the New York Post:
“Getting anything for him was a surprise,’’ the executive said. “But you get desperate. The guy has talent, a 7-footer, mobile, his first few years he made shots. But I question his love for the game and mental makeup. I’m surprised the Knicks didn’t do more homework on him."
As for what the Knicks do from here, the team might be looking to attempt to move the big man during the remainder of the offseason. Given the fact that most executives probably watched Bargnani last season, he likely won't be moved easily.
A potential buyout of his contract could be an option, as Berman notes, but nothing is for certain at this point. For now, Bargnani is still a Knick and will look to prove his worth in New York under Phil Jackson.
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