Andrea Bargnani will spread the floor for Knicks in all the right ways

Harris Decker

It has now been one month since the trade that sent fan-favorite Steve Novak, Marcus Camby and a future first-round draft pick to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for power forward Andrea Bargnani.

Until the season begins in October, this debate will keep Knicks fans pondering whether this helps or hurts the Knicks.

But the answer is clear: This trade helps the Knicks for reasons that are still being widely ignored.

bargnani-2502Bargnani, in addition to playing the four, can also be used as a jump shooting center.

We know that Bargnani will have a negative impact on the defense, but what he will provide is an offensive luxury that LeBron James has enjoyed for the last few seasons with Chris Bosh. If you look at the players besides Carmelo Anthony that have played power forward and center for the Knicks this past season, it included Kenyon Martin, Amar’e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and Kurt Thomas. What none of these players can do is play effectively outside the paint. Outside an occasional jump shot from Stoudemire, these guys all take up valuable space in the middle.

With the arrival of Bargnani, opposing defenses will be forced to respect his outside shooting ability. He is a career 36 percent 3-point shooter and carries with him the baggage that comes along with a career-low 39 percent field goal percentage in 2012-13 (down from 44 percent and 43 percent in the previous two seasons). He’ll be on a mission to prove himself as he approaches the final potential large contract of his career after the 2014-15 season.

What this does is open up the floor for three players that could shine in 2013-14. Anthony will obviously have more room to use his triple threat post move with big men like Roy Hibbert and Joakim Noah forced to move outside the paint. J.R. Smith will also see a positive impact on his game. He was at his best last season when he was getting to the rim, drawing fouls and not settling for long outside shots. More room inside means more chances for Smith. Finally, Iman Shumpert will be able to continue improving his offensive game with a spaced floor.

Of course, there are contract issues that made this trade viable for the Knicks. Novak was signed under the assumption that he’d continue to be an elite shooter from behind the arc. Unfortunately, he took a massive step backward in ’12-’13 making this trade make even more sense.

Time will determine if Anthony can get Bargnani involved in the offense, but if a championship is the goal, he will have to learn to pass with the same intensity that won him the Scoring Championship last season.


Follow Harris on Twitter @harrisdecker