Why The Knicks Traded A Boatload Of Assets For One Of The Most Overpaid Players In The NBA

andrea bargnani toronto raptors

The New York Knicks have agreed to a trade with the Toronto Raptors that will send forward Andrea Bargnani to New York, according to multiple reports.

The terms of the trade, which can’t go through until July 10, are as follows (according to Yahoo!’s Andrea Bargnani):

Knicks get: Andrea Bargnani

Raptors get: Steve Novak, Marcus Camby, a 2016 1st-round pick, two future 2nd-round picks

Bargnani is widely considered one of the NBA’s most overpaid players. He’s owed $23 million over the next two seasons — an top-50 annual salary that’s similar to what guys like Tony Parker, Rajon Rondo, Joakim Noah, and Serge Ibaka make.

Bargnani hasn’t been anywhere near as good as those other players in recent years.

Last year he ranked 259th out of 344 eligible players in player efficiency rating — an advanced stat that gives you a rough estimate of a player’s overall value on the court.

He’s a seven-feet tall forward, but he doesn’t rebound. He has never averaged more than 6.2 boards per game, and last year he had the worst rebounding rate in the league among power forwards.

He’s considered a floor-spacing, offence-first big. But his three-point shooting has fallen off a cliff since 2009 (30.9% last year), and he only averaged 12 points on 12 shots per game in 2012-13.

In short, he’s paid like a second- or third-option, but he has the production of an end-of-the-bench role player.

So why did the Knicks do it?

1. They don’t think draft picks are valuable, for some reason.
New York’s distaste for draft picks is a parody of itself at this point. In the last six drafts, the Knicks have traded away a third of their picks. Of the eight selections they did make, seven players have been either traded or cut. Iman Shumpert is the only player on the roster who was drafted by the Knicks. 

The future isn’t getting any brighter:

In an era when more and more teams are coveting 1st-round picks, the Knicks are blissfully shipping them off in bulk. With the number of late-first and second-round picks who have turned out to be really good players in recent years, it’s perplexing that the Knicks continue to value draft picks differently than the rest of the NBA.

Iman Shumpert High-Top FadeIman Shumpert is the only player on the roster who the Knicks draft

But that’s the reality here.

2. Bargnani might be salvageable.
The reason Bargnani was paid that much in the first place was because he showed promise in his first four years in the league. The Knicks are gambling on the small (5% maybe) chance that these last three years — where Bargnani was injured-plagued and despised by his hometown fans — were a long exception in Bargnani’s development.

Bargnani averaged 20 points in a season once. He shot better than 40% from 3-point range once. The large sample size of his career tells us that he is inconsistent and inefficient. But in theory, he has the tools to put it together in a new situation.

The Knicks are going for broke. Their window for contention will end the second Carmelo Anthony exits his prime.

The off-chance that Bargnani can live up to his contract was worth burning three more draft picks to the Knicks.

3. Novak and Camby couldn’t get on the court.
This is a minor point, but Novak and Camby were both on terrible contracts.

Novak had a breakout year in 2011-12. But last year his shoot numbers fell off, and coach Mike Woodson increasing — rightly or not — cut his minutes dramatically. 

He’s owed $10.8 million over the next three years, and he was barely playing by the playoffs last year. This trade allows the Knicks to get out from under his contract.

Ditto for Marcus Camby, who is owed $7.6 million over the next two years and didn’t contribute at all next year.

The Knicks made this trade because they need more talent to keep up with the Heat, Pacers, Bulls, and Nets. Bargnani is an unproductive player on a terrible contract, but he represents hope the Knicks previously didn’t have.

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