Phil Jackson has been the apple of New York’s eye for the past few months. He’s brought hope back to the Madison Square Garden that the New York Knicks will be able to be long-term contenders again and has been working hard to arrange the organization to his liking to make that happen. Some pieces, though, are hard to be moved from the roster, considering their mammoth contracts and what they really did on the court the past seasons. Andrea Bargnani is one of those pieces.
No, I don’t think Bargnani is part of the Knicks’ plans for the future, but I do think he has an amazing opportunity to revive his career during the next season, at the end of which he will be an unrestricted free agent.
Considering the new system to be implemented by coach Derek Fisher and the variations on lineups, Bargnani will be an essential piece of the rotation. The franchise currently has four big men, three of whom are able to play both power forward and center.
In the small-ball lineup, where Carmelo Anthony will probably play the power forward position, the team will need a strong rim protector and pick and roll player to compensate for the lack of defense at the perimeter — and the starting gig will be directed to Samuel Dalembert or Amar’e Stoudemire. They are true bigs who can be dominant in the paint, although not floor stretchers.
So where is Bargnani more relevant?
When Fisher decides to run the big lineup, with Melo at the three, the team won’t be able to afford having two big men who are slow on cutting, not efficient passers and don’t shoot from the perimeter (Stoudemire and Dalembert), so Bargnani will be the go-to guy here. Him not being a true old school center will help the much=needed floor spacing the triangle offense needs. Having a competent power forward passing the ball from the post along with Bargnani moving up and down from the three-point line will be ideal and it will take the pressure off of the swingmen. Anthony will not be double-teamed every time, because that would mean an open man on the other side, and Bargnani can be deadly from behind the arc. He has a very good basketball IQ and will be able to find the open man when needed or use his size to shoot jumpers over smaller defenders. Either playing PF or center, he will be a great bail out player when the shot clock is running down.
After suffering a season-ending injury last season, he must be eager to get back on the court and prove to everyone he is still a valuable piece for any franchise trying to be relevant. Motivation is something very underrated by the media, and I think this will be his greatest asset for next season.
So if the Italian native puts the effort to help the team win during next season, proving to versatile and valuable on the floor, he not only will be praised at the biggest basketball market in the league but it will also set the foundation for a profitable contract for himself during the offseason. It’s a win-win situation for him and the Knicks.