Sam SpiegelmanBack when I was in high school, C- was still a passing grade. But when you’re being judged on an offseason worth of free-agent signings, trades and the NBA Draft, it’s not as flattering.
Sports Illustrated handed the New York Knicks a C- grade for the offseason, one in which the team acquired Andrea Bargnani, Metta World Peace, Beno Udrih, Jeremy Tyler, Tim Hardaway Jr. and C.J. Leslie, and also re-upped with J.R. Smith, Pablo Prigioni and Kenyon Martin.
According to Rob Mahoney, the Knicks retained some necessary pieces and enjoyed some bargain signings, but re-signing Smith comes with its question marks, while trading for Bargnani did not address the team’s needs.
Though the Knicks spent more on Smith than they would have liked, that’s still preferred to the thought of losing him outright. His departure would have spelled trouble for a team that is overly reliant on Carmelo Anthony’s shot creation as it is; New York struggled in the postseason when Smith failed to generate offense, which only serves to highlight the cost of potentially losing him. Flaws and all, Smith was too valuable an offensive asset for the Knicks to simply let walk, and thus it’s something of a victory that New York bit the bullet to bring him back.
The costly, nonsensical acquisition of Andrea Bargnani, who addresses not a single one of New York’s needs. Even the one thing that Bargnani, 27, supposedly does well is a bit of a mirage; the former Raptor made only 32.3 percent of his three-pointers in his last three seasons (the league average was about 35.5 percent in that time), submarining some of his value as a stretch 4. Otherwise, he’s a horrid rebounder and reluctant defender, which in total makes him a lesser version of big man Amar’e Stoudemire, whose flaws already compromise the Knicks strategically.
Like any argument, I can see where Mahoney is coming from. Then again, I also can’t agree with all of his points.
The Knicks had to overpay to retain Smith; the offense simply would not flow as well as it has without him. The additions of World Peace and Udrih were bargain deals, adding a defensive presence and a veteran to the backcourt are certainly upgrades over last year’s squad.
With Stat in the shape he’s in and unable to stay healthy, there is no doubt in my mind Bargnani is an upgrade. He’s not being brought in to be a stout defender; I don’t believe the Knicks felt that’s what they were getting when they made the trade with the Toronto Raptors.
A C- may be a little low — a C+ or B feels more appropriate, in my mind — but what it comes down to is next year. No matter what the Knicks are paying Bargnani, as long as they can afford to re-sign ‘Melo next year, they are in a fine financial situation.
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