The New York Knicks are in a strange place at the moment. This offseason will be perhaps one of their most important in a very long time. They have an entire roster to rebuild from the bottom up. At first, people predicted big names like Marc Gasol and Goran Dragic. Then fans were banking on players like Demarre Carroll and Greg Monroe, but as free agency begins to loom closer there are some names Knick fans should seriously consider welcoming back to the Garden next year. Now, before anyone starts condemning me of being completely ignorant I want you to hear my case for the two Western Europeans: Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon.
Many have claimed that Bargnani is not competent in this sport such as his failed dunk attempts or his questionable shot in December 2013 that caused the game to go into overtime against the Knicks favor. He has had many bloopers yes, but is he an asset worth letting go? Absolutely not.
If we look at his stats, even in this past most disastrous season he did come out with a great shooting percentage. He shot 45% from the field, which is higher than his career average, with 33% of his shots coming just inside the three point arc. The triangle offense relies heavily on the mid-range jumper and someone who hits almost half of their mid-range jumpers is someone very useful in the triangle.
He is also very interested in getting a second chance in New York even with a significant pay cut. He definitely should not be starting due to some holes in his game like defense and rebounding, but his offense should be a threat coming off the bench either as a center or a power forward.
As for Jose Calderon the truth is that he was a bit of a trade bust, nowhere near as big as Dallas’ eventual replacement for him, Rajon Rondo, but close. People assumed that the veteran point guard would immediately turn this franchise around even with Carmelo Anthony’s nagging knee, the shipment of Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith, and a clear final goal of a high lottery pick. It is true that Calderon’s field goal percentage dropped an unexpected 4% and his overall field goal percentage falling 5% from last season. His plus minus was negative on both ends of the floor and he clearly seemed to be a disappointment and a bust, so why hold on to him?
Well first even with his lower three point shooting percentage this year, 41.5%, we can compare that to this year’s MVP Stephen Curry (Yes, I know I am crazy for comparing the two) who shot 44.3%. Stephen Curry is an irreplaceable player on any team’s roster and is famous for his long distance shooting. How can we condemn a player who is shooting just 3 %less than the most famous three point shooter in the league today?
Although Calderon is aging and it is possible that his shooting numbers won’t go up next season, one thing is almost certain with Calderon. As the primary ball handler, if he has more valuable players on the court with him, his assist numbers will rise and he will become a “disher and swisher” (As Walt Frazier would say).
Some fans make the case for Emmanuel Mudiay as the Knicks next franchise point guard but they forget who Phil Jackson is: the Triangle Offense Wiz. In the triangle offense you don’t need a driving, aggressive point guard, but rather one with great shooting, lockerroom leadership, and court vision skills. That is why New York doesn’t need an All-Star point guard who will eat up the Knicks’ money but have his skills unused because of the triangle. Phil clearly had hope in Calderon since he traded for him and surely he will be given another chance but with more assets around him this time.
Both of these Europeans are praised in Jackson’s eye and he thinks that they should be given a second chance. Yes, Calderon is expensive but maybe he’ll raise his own value this season he can be shipped him out for someone younger, but if New York trades him now the fans will get much less than what he’s worth.
Bargnani has seemed more like the mascot than a player at times but if he re-signs with the Knicks he may be one of the key bench contributors next to Langston Galloway, Alexey Shved, and Cleanthony Early. As long as Madison Square Garden doesn’t boo as soon as any of these players touch the ball the Knicks could include these two players in serious contention next year.