NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — If you can’t move ’em, laud ’em.
That seems to be Phil Jackson’s new mantra now that he’s embraced the reality that no one wants to take Andrea Bargnani’s big contract in a trade. The Knicks’ president has switched gears and now believes the former No. 1 overall pick in the 2006 draft will do great things in the triangle offense.
Hey, what’s he supposed to say?
“He’s overlooked. We think he’s going to really do well in the system we have,” Jackson said on MSG Network the other night. “We have a couple of guards he likes to play with, Jose (Calderon) and Pablo (Prigioni), and I think he’s going to be a surprise and a pleasant one for our fans.”
Bargnani averaged 13.3 points in 42 games in 2013-14 before being lost for the season with an elbow injury. The 7-foot Italian, who was acquired last offseason from Toronto, will make $12 million next season, the final season of his contract.
During the process of trying to convince Carmelo Anthony to return to the Knicks, Jackson reportedly began shopping Bargnani and Amar’e Stoudemire, hoping to slice around $35 million off next season’s payroll and use it to lure a second star to New York in free agency. It was a long shot plan that hasn’t worked, but Anthony re-signed anyway.
Now Jackson and new head coach Derek Fisher have to find a way to maximize Bargnani’s abilities. The 28-year-old big man has been an effective perimeter shooter during his eight-year career and could see a lot of open looks in Jackson’s pass-and-movement-oriented triangle offense.
For his career, Bargnani is averaging 15 points and 4.9 rebounds, and is shooting nearly 44 percent.
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