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The Andrea Bargnani trade: How does it affect the Knicks' front court rotation?

The Knicks still have a giant hole in their front court...only now it's shaped like a boot!


I know what you're thinking, P&T'ers - as soon as news of the Andrea Bargnani trade hit, you found yourselves wondering, "This trade is interesting, but how can it be connected to Jorts?" Well don't worry - here at Posting and Toasting, every Knicks transaction will be viewed through that prism of cut-off denim, from now until the end of time.

Yes, it is true that Bargnani's shooting numbers have declined rather steadily over the past four seasons. The good news, however, is that his most efficient season came as recently as 2011-12, albeit in a mere 31 games.

And what does Bargnani's most efficient season look like? It looks a little something like this, HIT IT!

1 Andrea Bargnani 2011-12 31 1032 17.9 .538 .467 2.8 16.6 9.8 1.2 11.0 28.7 1.3 0.9 2.2 .104
2 Josh Harrellson 2011-12 37 540 13.7 .505 .490 10.0 21.0 15.4 3.0 11.1 15.0 0.4 1.0 1.4 .127
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 7/1/2013.

There's that man again. Jorts managed a superior eFG% thanks to a three-point shooting percentage 40 points higher than the "stretch four" Bargnani (.339 to .296). And yes, a 2.8 offensive rebounding percentage is almost unfathomably bad. Bargnani did improve to 3.0 ORB% this past season; but keep in mind, the man he will likely replace in the Knicks' new "big" starting lineup, Pablo Prigioni, had a 3.7 ORB% last season. Huzzah for bigness!

So how will the Bargnani trade affect the Knicks' returning bigs, Tyson Chandler and Amar'e Stoudemire? The past two seasons have shown that, though they are immensely talented individuals, they don't exactly complement one another. Going into this off season I believed the Knicks needed to acquire a big who could provide STAT with a much-needed defensive caddy, stretch the floor to allow STAT to work down low and stay out of the trainer's room. In Bargnani, the Knicks have acquired a big who can do approximately 71% of one of those three things - he hasn't played a full season since 2009-10, hasn't been an above-average three-point shooter since 2010-11, and hasn't played defense in forever.

And therein lies the rub: by acquiring a big of Bargnani's, uh, unique skill set, the Knicks have still left themselves short at the center position. Amar'e proved last year that he would not work as Chandler's backup with the Knicks' smaller lineup, and Bargnani is even worse defensively. is it possible that the Knicks plan to play Bargnani and STAT together? That would set defensive basketball back 200 years...and yes, I know how old basketball is. Eddy Curry will be watching Knicks games from his patented Polly-O String Cheese hammock and thinking to himself, "Damn, these guys need to play some D." A Bargnani-Stoudemire front court is, quite simply, untenable.

In fact, it helps to think of Bargnani simply as a replacement for the dude he, in fact, replaced - Steve Novak. I believe fans were just a wee bit harsh on the Money Badger's contributions last season - limited players who play within their limits are often sacrificed on the altar of "upside" - but the man did play over 20 minutes per game last season over 81 games. The simple truth is that he's played 600 more minutes for the Knicks over the past few years than Bargnani has played for the Raptors in that same time. And his contributions went further than merely staying on the floor - the Knicks offense added 1.6 points per 100 possessions when Novak was on the floor.

Simply sticking Bargnani in the Novak (and/or) Chris Copeland role is probably the Knicks best option, since it allows Carmelo Anthony to continue playing at the four. My research tells me the Knicks done won a whole heap of games with him in that role. With Bargnani in the Novak role (I refuse to call him a Power Novak, because the guy doesn't even try to rebound or play D), his sole responsibility would be to space the floor. Sadly, according to this Chris Herring article, Bargnani isn't even good in that role.

No matter what the Knicks do with Bargnani, it's clear that they still need to solve their biggest front court weakness - a lack of defense and shot-blocking. The recent Elton Brand rumors prove (hopefully) that the front office understands their work on the big man front is far from finished. I hope you're not planning on taking a vacation anytime soon, Glen Grunwald. The Knicks need another big - an actual big, this time - and time's a-wasting.