Andrea Bargnani: hasty business by the New York Knicks
The NBA off-season does not shun itself away from limelight. Coaches are fired and new ones are brought to replace them. Players get moved and rookies begin to settle down. All of this makes for exciting cover stories across the media.
A few stories desire greater attention than the rest while some moves raise eyebrows for only the wrong reasons. One story belonging to the latter category is the Andrea Bargnani trade from the Toronto Raptors to the New York Knicks.
While the Knicks could presumptuously think they were being astute in sealing this deal, they could well be kicking themselves in a matter of months.
The New York Knicks are based in downtown Manhattan. This also happens to be the workplace of our friend and Knicks faithful, Joe Baggio. Born and bred in the city of New York, Joe has seen the tumultuous ride of the primary New York franchise in the NBA.
They were playoff perennials when they had Jerry Lucas. Sparks were ignited once again as the Knicks began to terrorise other Eastern Conference rivals to flourish under the tutelage of Pat Riley. But that was in the 90s.
In the early 2000s, Madison Square Garden hit rock bottom as Baggio witnessed the management debacle of Isiah Thomas. From a fabled star in Detroit, Thomas experienced a ‘bombshell’ at New York. His legacy was tainted and so were the Knicks as an organisation.
From a magma that was beginning to displace the Yankees as the city’s most followed, the Knicks threw themselves under the bus by drafting pathetically, trading miserably and spurring wrong judgements in the backroom staff.
Our friend, Baggio, has seen it all. He was heartbroken when he saw his beloved franchise being battered 104-59 by the Boston Celtics in 2007. But smiles began to appear during the tenure of Mike D’Antoni. Then there was the sensation of Jeremy Lin, who stormed the entire city with his clutch shooting.
Last season, the Knicks made it to the second round of the playoffs after finishing as the second best team from the Eastern Conference during the regular season. Baggio was satisfied that the Knicks had improved while the rest complained about the team’s defeat to loathed rivals, the Indiana Pacers.
Baggio sees things differently – one step at a time, that is his philosophy. Does the man with same heritage as the Knicks’ newest addition, Bargnani, see it the same way when the Knicks traded for the centre?
When cross-city rivals are bringing in future Hall-of-Famers and guaranteed successes to the Brooklyn Nets, everyone in Manhattan must be wondering what the Knicks are doing with a man who is best labelled as a “bust” since being drafted number one overall in 2006.
Let us move away from Mr. Baggio to focus on the Knicks as an organisation. In the deal that infuriated many across New York and is now the cynosure of mockery in the NBA, Bargnani is coming to the “Big Apple” in return for a host of future first-round and second round picks.
In an era where every other team is keen on building from scratch through the Draft, the Knicks seem to be doing the opposite. Even the Nets don’t cater to the philosophy of resurrecting through the draft but they at least brought in the likes of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. And to match that, the Knicks hastily loaned out the future to bring in a talent that has yet not peaked in the NBA.