Bargnani wowing the crowd at Madison Square Garden

Bargnani wowing the crowd at Madison Square Garden

Raptors fans who have longed for the end of The Bargnani Era are surely enjoying themselves a fine Canada Day this year, thanks to Masai Ujiri and the New YoLOLrk Knicks taking the seven-foot Italian off of Toronto’s hands.

In the immediate adrenaline rush of last night’s reported deal, I threw some quick thoughts up that you can still indulge in here. But on the morning after THE Trade, with a half-night’s sleep to collect and organize some more thoughts over, I thought I’d post a more in-depth version of my thoughts in a format similar to my usual “Thoughts On the Game” posts.

On that note, here you go…

- First and foremost, the important thing to remember is that while Marc Spears reported late last night that the deal has been completed and agreed upon, nothing becomes official until the league moratorium is lifted on July 10. Factor in the fact that the deal didn’t get league approval on Sunday night and that some minor tinkering reportedly needs to be done on the Knicks’ side of the trade, and I’d simply remind you all to be cautiously optimistic for now. It sounds like both teams are eager to get this thing done and that it eventually becoming official is just a formality, but still, with the Tyson Chandler and Matt Barnes fiascoes still kind of fresh in our minds, maybe just hold off on the party for now.

- The deal itself. Again, in case you’re still unsure about the specifics, the deal reportedly agreed to in principle on Sunday sees Andrea Bargnani head to New York, while Steve Novak, Marcus Camby, a 2016 first round pick and two future second round picks come to Toronto. The protection level of the picks and which other minimum salary type player, if any, might have to come to Toronto to make the deal work are still not known.

- I was thinking of doing a full on retrospective of Andrea Bargnani’s time in Toronto, and maybe I still will at some point this summer, but in general, too many words have already been written here over the years about the man Bryan Colangelo infamously dubbed “the enigma of all enigmas.” As I discussed last night on twitter, the fact that a player of Bargnani’s immense talents leaving town is met with such a response of “good riddance” from fans is quite the indictment of Andrea’s effort level over these last seven years.

I’ll always remain convinced that the guy had/has the talents to be a perennial NBA All-Star, and yes, there is a very real possibility that he burns the Raptors here and there as a divisional foe, but at some point, you have to understand and accept the fact that it just wasn’t going to come together for him here.

- As for why on earth the Knicks would give up a couple of decent contracts and THREE draft picks for Bargnani’s services, many media people seem to see it as New York’s crosstown response to Brooklyn acquiring Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry.

Seriously.

Just let that marinate in your mind for a few seconds – the Knicks apparently saw Brooklyn loading up with a couple of aging Hall of Famers and responded with “Oh yeah, well we’re getting Bargnani! Take that Prokhorov!” I’m sure the Nets are just shaking in their boots.

The other theory is that Bargnani has played some of his best basketball against the Knicks and specifically at Madison Square Garden, but then you take a look at the numbers and realize that they’re fine, but not exactly eye popping. In 24 career games against the Knicks, Bargnani has averaged 15.4 points and 5.0 rebounds on 45 per cent shooting and an impressive 39.8 per cent shooting from behind the arc.

The real answer as to why the Knicks would trade two players and three picks for Andrea Bargnani is actually pretty simple though. Because they’re the Knicks.

- If you’re wondering how the two players being traded to Toronto reacted to the news, Steve Novak seems pretty jacked while Marcus Camby had this to say, via his agent, to ESPN:

“I have nothing but positive things to say about the city of Toronto and its great fans, having been drafted by the Raptors 17 years ago. Given that my goal at this point in my career is to have a shot at a championship, however, I’ll have to evaluate my options going forward. I’ve enjoyed a great career and under the right circumstances I hope to continue making an impact in the league.”

Translation? Camby won’t be the type of guy who refuses to report to T.O. or anything bush league like that, but he obviously would rather play for a contender at 39-years-old and I just don’t see him even suiting up for a single game for the Raptors. Whether it’s via a buyout, trade or something else, expect Masai Ujiri to cut ties with Camby in some capacity. In the event that the 1996 Raptors draft pick does actually stick around, he’s owed $4,383,773 next season and $4,177,208 in 2014-15, but his 2014-15 salary is not fully guaranteed.

- Camby probably won’t be around come October, any other player potentially included later won’t be of significant consequence and the three draft picks are impossible to speculate on right now, so if you want to break this down from a basketball perspective, the question is what do you get when you replace Andrea Bargnani with Steve Novak?

No one is going to argue that Novak is the more talented player or even the more complete basketball player, but here are the cold hard facts: the Raptors replaced an inconsistent, enigmatic, expensive talent who had dropped below Amir Johsnon and Jonas Valanciunas on the depth chart with a consistent floor stretching big man who knows his role is to be a three-point specialist and who excels at that role. Bargnani has $22,250,000 remaining on his contract over the next two years (though he does have an early termination option after next season), while Novak is owed just $10,945,949 total over the next three seasons – an average of about $3.65 million per year.

Want more facts? Check out the three-point shooting statistics of Novak and Bargnani from this past season, the last three years and over their entire seven-year NBA careers…

Player 2012-13 Last three seasons Careers (2006/07-2012/13)
Steve Novak 351 3PA, 42.5% 679 3PA, 45.4% 1146 3PA, 43.3%
Andrea Bargnani 123 3PA, 30.9% 461 3PA, 32.3% 1606 3PA, 36.1%

The Raptors slotted in a legitimate, somewhat cheap three-point specialist to replace an overpaid talent who had reduced himself to a three-point specialist despite the fact that his three-point shot had gone AWOL.

Anything else?

- If you want to know what the difference is between Masai Ujiri and Bryan Colangelo, consider this: Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the Warriors offered up David Lee to the Raptors in exchange for Bargnani. We can’t know for certain what Colangelo would have done if presented with such an offer, but my guess would be that he would have accepted, and led by an empty stats All-Star making nearly $15 million per year for the next three seasons (Lee), the Raptors would have dug their heels in even deeper as a perennial capped out, taxed 6-8 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Ujiri, on the other hand, obviously refused the offer, bided his time, and waited for an offer that while lower in “star” appeal, makes more sense for the franchise both on the court and off.

- While it’s still not completely clear whether the Raptors are looking to get back into the playoffs in 2013 or if Masai Ujiri is content to join the growing list of teams ready to go Diggin’ For Wiggins, one thing that is certain is that this trade gives Ujiri options and some needed financial flexibility. Because Ujiri was able to mind-ninja the Knicks in a Bargnani deal and therefore still has the amnesty option in his back pocket, I think we can all assume that Linas Kleiza will be a victim of said amnesty provision.

Assuming that this trade goes through, that Camby is off the books after next season and that Kleiza will be amnestied (I realize that I’m making a lot of assumptions), plus with John Lucas’ team option being declined, Ujiri may save nearly $9 million in 2013-14 while freeing up about $6 million worth of cap space next summer. And it looks like he’ll do that without surrendering any of the talent the Raptors hope to build upon in the future.

We don’t know how things will go from here (and I will remind you that Bryan Colangelo finding a taker for Rafael Araujo early in his Raptors tenure was also seen as miraculous), but so far so good, Masai. And yes, it’s safe to assume that Ujiri is discount-double-checking right now…

(All salary figures are courtesy of the awesome Mark Deeks at ShamSports.com)

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UPDATE:

Why not? You’d have to assume that Richardson’s deal will likely be for the veteran’s minimum, and only one of the three years is guaranteed.