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Woodson continues to confound: Says Knicks’ season would have been different if Bargnani stayed healthy

Apr 11, 2014, 12:51 PM EDT

Atlanta Hawks v New York Knicks Getty Images

Since Andrea Bargnani tore the ulnar nerve in his left elbow ending his season, the New York Knicks have gone 18-18 — not great, but that would make the playoffs in the East at least. This season the Knicks offense is a whopping 6.5 points per 100 possessions better when Bargnani is out of the game, while the defense remains almost flat (+.2 per 100 without him). When Bargnani is in street clothes the Knicks outscore opponents by +.5 per 100 (close to even, fitting their .500 record without him), with him they are -6.2 per 100.

Yet like Will Ferrell with a cowbell, Knicks coach Mike Woodson thinks the Knicks needed more of him.

Sorry Knicks fans, I wish I were making this up, but Woodson’s love of a tall lineup — which pushed Carmelo Anthony to the three when both statistics and the eye test tell you his is better at the four — has not gone away. Chris Herring of the Wall Street Journal posted this tweet about Bargnani that frustrated Knicks fans all over twitter Friday:

The good news Knicks fans is that Woodson is gone soon. Whatever changes Phil Jackson has in store, Woodson is not part of the future.

Woodson loved Bargnani’s size — a seven footer who shoots threes — and the Italian averaged 13.3 points a game for the Knicks. However, Bargnani has an aversion to rebounding and his help defense is non-existent, which led to all kinds of issues. All that for just $11.9 million this season! What a deal!

Woodson seemed to love the idea of Bargnani, Anthony and Tyson Chandler together and injuries limited that trio to just 189 minutes together this season — but in those minutes the Knicks were outscored by 11.2 points per 100 possessions. The offense stumbled and the defense allowed 114.9 points per 100, 8 more than the team average this season.

Bargnani is Phil Jackson’s problem now. Bargnani is owed $11.5 million next season and while Jackson may want to try to trade him (or Amar’e Stoudemire) expiring contracts are not worth as much in the new CBA as they were before. There will be little to no market for Bargnani (who is represented by CAA, by the way).

  1. garybrian - Apr 11, 2014 at 1:01 PM

    Sure glad you got him. And we got players and draft choices in return. Wow, let’s do some more business with New York!

  2. jbeagles23 - Apr 11, 2014 at 1:12 PM

    Knicks fans thought they won this trade at te beginning of the season. Knicks don’t even make the playoffs where the raps get a home court advantage in round one

    • beagle11 - Apr 11, 2014 at 3:26 PM

      Would you still say that if the Knicks are able to sign 2 big free agents next summer and become a legitimate contender? Because, without this trade that wouldn’t even be an option.

      • casualcommenter - Apr 11, 2014 at 4:46 PM

        “Because, without this trade that wouldn’t even be an option.”

        Not true. Rather than trade for Bargnani, the Knicks could have kept Novak and Camby for this season. Then, they could have traded away Novak before the 2015 offseason easily since he’d be an expiring contract worth just $3.7 million. That’s easy for a team well below the salary cap, like the 76’ers, to absorb in exchange for like a second round pick.

        Instead, because the Knicks not only wanted to dump multiple years worth of salary but also get Bargnani, the Knicks had to give up a first-round pick in 2016 and second-round selections in 2014 and 2017. It wouldn’t have cost them NEARLY as much in terms of draft picks if they had kept those two players for a year and then salary-dumped Novak before the 2015 offseason.

      • Kevin S. - Apr 11, 2014 at 6:46 PM

        Let us assume, for the moment, that it wold have been utterly impossible for the Knicks to unload the last year of Novak’s contract withoutsurrendering a first the reloading Raptors had swap rights on and two seconds, taking on an extra $7.5 million in salary in 2014-15, and getting worse at the position over the next two years. If Steve Novak was still on the books next summer, he could have been waived under the stretch provision and count against the Knicks’ cap for $1.25 million. If you’re already saying, a year out, that this would have definitely prevented the Knicks from acquiring two max free agents next summer, Phil Jackson just isn’t the panacea you make him out to be.

      • Kevin S. - Apr 11, 2014 at 6:48 PM

        Er, re-loading Nuggets, that is. I’m crossing up the teams Masai Ujiri fleeced the Knicks from.

      • leeeroooyjeeenkiiins - Apr 11, 2014 at 10:16 PM

        Typical Knicks fan, assuming every hole can simply be filled by signing a star while having no concept of his own team’s cap hell.

    • iamjamesmack - Apr 12, 2014 at 3:03 PM

      What knocks fans do you talk to that think we won that trade? Most fans like myself, hated that trade to begin with, and hate it even more now

    • redbaronx - Apr 12, 2014 at 7:33 PM

      @jbeagles23 – I don’t know what Knicks fans you’re referring to, but all the fans I saw here on PBT were AGAINST the changes the Knicks made in the offseason before the beginning of the season. If you go back and look at posts from last year on the Knicks, you’ll see this for yourself…

      Knicks fans are in a state of depression. Dolan isn’t going anywhere and the laughable moves they make just serve to remind them that barring a draft miracle, they’re never going to see a championship there. The one glimmer of hope is that Phil Jackson will have autonomy and really put his mark on this team.

  3. sportsfan18 - Apr 11, 2014 at 1:45 PM

    Hey Phil… No ONE would bat an eye if you fired Woody today simply for uttering that senseless comment…

    It shows he has NO CLUE… and that pains me to say as an IU grad… Woody played well for IU and Coach Knight back in the day…

  4. nycalldayz - Apr 11, 2014 at 1:51 PM

    C’mon Woody no one is buying that argument. Other teams in the league deal with injuries, but still find ways to gut out wins.

  5. dadeyemi - Apr 11, 2014 at 1:52 PM

    The Bargnani trade has probably surpassed the Eddy Curry trade as the worst move by the Knicks front office in team history

  6. cbking05 - Apr 11, 2014 at 1:53 PM

    things would have been different if I would have gone to college…

  7. cantonbound13 - Apr 11, 2014 at 2:15 PM

    I really don’t know how they won 54 games last year with this idiot coach.

    • casualcommenter - Apr 11, 2014 at 4:49 PM

      The Knicks last year used an incredibly aggressive and innovative small ball lineup with 3 guards on the floor and Carmelo Anthony playing at power forward. It was a nightmare to try to defend.

      A lot of people thought Woodson had come up with something really clever and would embrace smallball, but it looks like he only used that lineup because of injuries. He’s made it clear that he values playing “big” even if the results are worse.

      • cruzan80 - Apr 11, 2014 at 5:00 PM

        I dont disagree with the idea of playing a “big” lineup instead of the “small ball” lineup….I just dont think Bargnani was the right big. The Knicks have been at their best since Amare has been placed back into the starting lineup without any minutes restrictions or nagging injuries.

        The big lineup is better than the gimic they had last season which eventually cought up to them when they faced the traditionally big lineup of the Indiana Pacers.

    • redbaronx - Apr 12, 2014 at 7:49 PM

      @cantonbound13 – Having Melo at the 4 stretching the defense caused a lot of problems for other teams last year, just like Durant causes problems in OKC. Unfortunately the Knicks went out and got Bargnani and slotted Melo back in the 3 spot which exposes Woodson’s horrible coaching. If he were smart he would have tried to go back to the small lineup. It also hurt having Chandler out. Chandler bailed the Knicks out in the paint, now their bad perimeter and team defense is there for everyone to see.

      Unfortunately the Knicks made some bad bench moves before the season that limited that option. Steve Novak was great shooting from distance, and at 6’10 he bothered defenses in more ways than one. I also think losing Chris Copeland was a big loss. Big body at 6’8 with a lot of length. Great energy guy. He was always in the middle of something defensively. A lot of effort. He doesn’t play a lot of minutes now in Indiana since there’s a lot of other bigs Indiana has, but I think the Knicks needed him.

  8. jolink653 - Apr 11, 2014 at 2:22 PM

    He’s right in saying things would have been different with Bargnani around: the season would be much worse and they’d be in contention for a top lottery spot which they’d be passing to the Nuggets.

    Let’s be honest: the Bargnani trade was an utter failure and the only benefit they’re gonna get from it is when they get rid of his salary after next year. I suppose it was worth a shot to trade for him and hope that a change of scenery would help, but it hasn’t and maybe the next coach can find some effective way to use him next season

  9. gameisours - Apr 11, 2014 at 3:20 PM

    Amateur can realise that Bargnani is terrible at team basketball.

  10. eugenesaxe1 - Apr 11, 2014 at 3:51 PM

    So who’s next to get thrown under the subway car?

  11. cruzan80 - Apr 11, 2014 at 4:27 PM

    SMH….I’ve been backing Woody all season long…..but I gotta throw in the towel after this one man.

    Bargnani might be the biggest reason why the Knicks started so poorly to begin with! His presence literally had a negative effect on the entire team. ESPN’s Tom Haberstroh explained how perfectly months ago….

    Again…I’ve been part of the crowd who felt like Woodson is good coach stuck with a bad team, some bad luck & didn’t deserve to be fired at the end of the season….but I can’t ride with him on this one…that might have been the final nail in the coffin.

  12. ProBasketballPundit - Apr 11, 2014 at 5:17 PM

    I absolutely agree. If Bargnani would have stayed healthy then the Nuggets would have a real shot at the #1 2014 draft pick.

    • bkbell3 - Apr 12, 2014 at 2:49 AM

      People have short memories.smh When bargs. was playing melo was shooting 40% and struggling and jr was shooting 36%, Statt was looking like junk and Tyson was a huge non factor. Also this great writer is mocking woodson wanting to go big but the big line-up with statt. starting has worked fine,jr is almost back to last years jr and they are playing better. The draft picks to Denver and the raps. by the knicks thinking would of been late first round picks coming off a 54 win season and thinking they would of built on that. A contending and capped out team doesn’t value a late first round pick that much cause they prob. won’t get playing time on a supposed contending team and the trade value is somewhat low. And it adds to the tax you’re already paying and it’s guaranteed.Last year for awhile with small ball the whole team got hot shooting the ball for that stretch but they were undersized at every position and it caught up to them when the shooting started to cool off. I’d rather see melo post up and own small forwards then beat him self up fighting power forwards at both ends. Bargs was a shorter contract that got rid of 2 players who were extremely limited and not in the rotation on longer contracts. Again no one for saw,after a 54 win season that this disaster would happen and that the pick going to denver would be lower than a 24-30 pick. Novak can’t get off the bench and camby is out of the league. Hind sight is always 20-20

      • bkbell3 - Apr 12, 2014 at 2:56 AM

        Forgot to add that early this year every time bargs got hot woodson would pull him and he never played in the fourth quarter. Also bargs showed surprising ability to play defense one on one against some of the best centers in the league and hold his own and i would bet he has almost as many blocks right now as Tyson has. His help defense was bad but the whole defensive scheme is non existent. It was worth the risk for a capped out team to get rid of non-rotation players to pick up a former number one pick who averaged 20 and 7 a few years ago when healthy and get rid of longer contracts and clear cap space for 2015 AND add a piece to a SUPPOSED

      • bkbell3 - Apr 12, 2014 at 3:02 AM

        GOT cut off to finish a SUPPOSED contending team.

  13. ernwop64 - Apr 11, 2014 at 8:31 PM

    Bargnani healthy would have helped the team because with Chandler in the line up you need another scoring threat,Chandler gives you zero.Bargnani would have got you 15pts and 8rbs,with time they would have gotten better.

  14. leeeroooyjeeenkiiins - Apr 11, 2014 at 10:18 PM

    As a Raptors fan, I can confirm this claim. Your team will always be worse when Bargnani is healthy and standing around dumbfoundedly staring at rebounds and players that fly right by him. It would have indeed been quite different.

  15. campcouch - Apr 12, 2014 at 12:35 AM

    “The good news Knicks fans is that Woodson is gone soon. Whatever changes Phil Jackson has in store, Woodson is not part of the future.”

    So this is the coach’s fault for the roster being fielded.

    Since 2000 the Knicks have won their division once, finished above .500 four times (one was 36-30 because of the lockout),and the only coach to get them to 50+ wins since 1999 is suddenly garbage. Ha.

  16. weaselpuppy - Apr 12, 2014 at 1:42 AM

    Can we interest you in a J-Smoove?


    Tom Gores

  17. iamjamesmack - Apr 12, 2014 at 3:05 PM

    Yep Woodson is right. We would already be out of playoff contention.

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