I remember being genuinely puzzled why the Knicks went and got Andrea Bargnani. I’m not just referring to the part where they gave up a first round pick for a player the Raptors were desperate to unload.
There seemed to be a significant overlap between what Bargnani could do, potentially (score while creating matchup problems at the 4) and what Amar’e Stoudemire could do (same), while both players had significant weaknesses on the defensive end. Moreover, playing either at the four when Carmelo Anthony was on the floor would mean doing so at the expense of the best utilization of the team’s best player, while playing either at the five qualified as an engraved invitation for opponents to head to the basket.
But we now know: Bargnani was acquired as a result of the Stoudemire health issues. That secret July surgery lines up with the July 10 trade for Bargnani. And it makes the Glen Grunwald answer in a conference call the next day about how he expects the two to play together disingenuous, at best.
About Bargnani: I’d asked him about potentially guarding on the perimeter at Media Day on Monday, and he gave me a non-answer. But the always-excellent Chris Herring broke down the stats, and what he found is interesting: Bargnani, actually, does a nice job guarding threes. There’s a potential lineup for the Knicks with Bargnani playing the three, Anthony the four, that could work. It does require Bargnani to regain his shooting touch, however.
As for Stoudemire, there’s no real way to know when he can return from this latest knee surgery, his third in roughly a year. But that’s the part that makes a return date essentially useless: just because he’s back doesn’t mean the Knicks can expect him to stay back for very long.
It is remarkably easy to root for Amar’e Stoudemire, in my opinion. But no one can plan a team around getting any production from him at this point. Back in July, even the Knicks acknowledged that.