In June 2013, the New York Knicks, led by General Manager Glen Grunwold, swung a trade with the Toronto Raptors. The Knicks acquired Andrea Bargnani, the former number one overall draft pick, in exchange for a 2014 and 2017 second round draft pick, a 2016 first rounder, Steve Novak, Quentin Richardson, and Marcus Camby.
At the time, it didn’t seem so bad. He averaged 21.4 points per game in 2010-2011, playing in 66 games, and then averaged 19.5 in an injury shortened 11-12. He has dealt with injury problems in the 2012-13 season, en route to him being dealt to the Knicks. His arrival in New York though did not seem to help him.
He played in only 42 games before injuring himself in the famed air balled dunk that tore an elbow ligament. This season, he has only played 22 minutes on the entire season, over the span of two games. He has re-injured his quad three times now this season.
Bargnani had his moments of glory early on in his Knicks tenure, where he had a 10 game stretch in November where he averaged over 20 points and 7 rebounds, including shutting down Dwight Howard who scored just 7 points compared to Bargnani’s 24. Overall though, Bargnani was a catastrophic failure. He averaged 13.3 points per game on 44% shooting and an embarrassing 28% from behind the arc.
His tenure was also filled with infamous blunders, including an ill advised three that nearly cost New York a win, the “Air Bargnani” failure, as well as terrible defense even a D-Leaguer could take advantage of. Watch for yourself with those three brain neutral plays. From a statistic standpoint, the Knicks were also 4.5 points worse with Bargnani on the court then they were without him. They also have paid him 22.3 million dollars to do next to nothing on the court. That is over 500 thousand dollars a game. They are paying him 11.5 million this season. That is over $522 thousand per minute he has played, or 5.65 million dollars per game. No wonder fans booed his baby picture.
Bargnani’s arrival also expedited the inevitable downfall of the 2012 New York Knicks. Grunwald and James Dolan’s ridiculous notion that this would be a good trade set the foundation for an abysmal Knicks season. They had three straight playoff berths, including a playoff series victory the season prior to landing Bargnani. Since, they are 42-81.
They traded away Marcus Camby and Quentien Richardson. While neither one of them was exactly an above average player at that stage in their career, they provided veteran leadership that helped carry the Knicks to the number two seed the season prior.
Camby also could have been a huge help during their 2013 season, as when Tyson Chandler and Kenyon Martin went down, the team had no defensive anchor. Camby could have filled in nicely. With Chandler’s injury woes and Bargnani’s matador defense, the Knicks fell from 16th overall defense in 2012-2013, to 24th the next year, and 29th this year.
They also lost Steve Novak, one of the leagues best three point shooters. The Knicks bread and butter on offense at the time was the three point shot, so trading arguably the best shooter in the league made absolutely no sense.
Arguably the worst aspect of the trade was dumping away a first round pick, as well as two second rounders. The Knicks banking on bringing in free agents to build a contender is an unreliable and uncertain method in trying to build a championship team. Especially trading one for an unpredictable, injury prone player that was only required as a reclamation project is ridiculous. The Knicks have seen themselves be burnt time and time again by dumping off draft picks, and that is a huge reason they have been so irrelevant for a decade now.
Just look at the Eddy Curry trade. While the Bargnani trade is not as much as a disaster as that one, they both share similarities. The Knicks traded two picks to the Bulls, which ended up becoming Lamarcus Aldridge and Joakim Noah, who are both now perennial all stars. In return they got Eddy Curry, who had two decent seasons before dealing with injury and weight problems, becoming the laughing stock of the league. The Knicks could be in store for yet another draft day disaster. If they strike out in free agency, that 2016 pick could very well turn out to be a lottery pick for the Raptors.
This trade could go down as one of the worst in Knicks history, and that is really saying something, coming from a team that has been as poorly managed as the Knicks since the start of the 21st century. While it was not as bad as the Patrick Ewing deal that sent the Knicks to cap hell for a decade, or the Curry deal, it definitely ranks high.