At long last the day has come. Or, at least, it will come on July 10. The Raptors and Knicks have agreed in principle
to a trade that will see Andrea Bargnan
i sent to New York for Marcus Camby
, Steve Novak
, Quentin Richardson
, a first-round pick and a pair of second-round picks. The deal can't officially be completed until the NBA's moratorium on player movement expires.
While Bargnani showed glimpses of brilliance during his seven-year career as a Raptor, his lack of motivation seems to have won out. Poor conditioning led to injuries, his underdeveloped game made him easy to scout, and his jump shot seems to have completely disappeared. New Toronto GM Masai Ujiri received much more in exchange for Bargnani than most thought possible.
Raptors grade: B+
Most of the players Toronto got in this deal, though, aren't really a factor. While it would be nice to have Camby as a fifth big man off the bench, he'll probably never don a Raptors uniform. Camby recently tweeted that he's interested in a championship, something the Raptors are clearly not in a position to offer. Luckily, this is the last guaranteed year of Camby's contract. I'd expect Ujiri to either trade him or buy him out.
Richardson was added to the deal to make it work under NBA trade rules. He has one guaranteed year left and it's rumoured that his contract will be paid for by the Knicks. He too will most likely never play a game for Toronto.
Novak is one of the better three-point shooters in the NBA, but he has no other abilities. If you remember Jason Kapono
, you have a pretty good idea of what Novak has to offer. The Raptors may choose to keep Novak to help bolster their outside attack (Toronto shot just 34 per cent from beyond the arc last year, ranking 25th in the NBA). Or he might be flipped to a contender: perhaps the winner of the Dwight Howard
sweepstakes would be interested.
The draft picks are the clear assets acquired in this trade. The first-round pick is the Knicks' slot in 2016, but Denver has an option to swap that pick as part of its haul from the Carmelo Anthony
trade. So the Raptors will end up with the worse of the two picks between Denver and New York. They also get the Thunder's second rounder in 2014 and the Knicks' second rounder in 2017.
While the Raptors didn't come out with anything of significant value, it seems to signal an ideological switch from previous GM Bryan Colangelo to Ujiri. Under Colangelo, draft picks didn't seem to hold much value (see my criticisms of the Sebestian Telfair trade
). Ujiri hinted in his opening press conference at an interest in filling the end of the bench with young prospects. It's very possible that he will use the late first round and early second round to take fliers on high-risk, high-ceiling talent. This kind of foresight is how a team like the San Antonio Spurs garners a reputation for finding "diamonds in the rough."
Knicks grade: B-
For the Knicks, the trade is a calculated risk. While it may be a bit of a reactionary move to cross-town rival Brooklyn's acquisition of Paul Pierce
and Kevin Garnett
, Bargnani's responsibilities will be lessened in New York. Tyson Chandler
, the Knicks' starting centre, will help mask Bargnani's biggest weakness, help defence. Amare Stoudemire
and Carmelo Anthony (begrudgingly) will operate out of the post. This will allow Bargnani to be a spot-up shooter, limiting the need for him to create his own offence. And while the New York media is relentless, the expectations of being a former No. 1 pick and supposed franchise saviour (as he was in Toronto) will be lifted off of his shoulders.
However, there are concerns. Bargnani and Stoudemire are two of the worst rebounding big men in the NBA. Playing them together will make opposing teams' frontcourts salivate. Bargnani's biggest asset, his jump shot, has gone missing. If he can't regain his stroke, his impact on the court is close to negligible. Also factor in that Bargnani hasn't seen media scrutiny like he will in New York. As of yet, he hasn't shown the ability to play through criticism.
Bargnani's departure from Toronto is a bittersweet moment. He leaves a trail of tattered expectations and unfulfilled potential. From a macro perspective, the return for a former No. 1 pick should be much more substantial, so the Raptors didn't exactly make out like bandits. But they did acquire assets and clearly have an eye on the future.
When 2016 rolls around, and Toronto has two first-round picks, the benefit of this trade will be fully realized.
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