It could end mercifully and shamefully Friday in Toronto. And you could point to the Knicks’ crash beginning with Toronto, too. As the Knicks (33-45) face the Raptors (46-32) at Air Canada Centre in what could be the night that coach Mike Woodson’s team officially is eliminated from the playoffs, owner James Dolan will rue his decision to take a gamble on enigmatic 7-foot big man Andrea Bargnani in a blockbuster trade with Toronto in late June. Bargnani was supposed to be the jewel addition of the Knicks’ offseason — seen as a potential secondary scorer to Carmelo Anthony — to boost last season’s 54-28 juggernaut. The Knicks were convinced Amar’e Stoudemire would play limited minutes all season and likely would not make it to the end. Turns out it was Bargnani who never got out of January. He tore the ulnar nerve in his left elbow on Jan. 22 and never made it back. It’s Phil Jackson’s problem now, as he either looks to buy out Bargnani or trade the expiring deal that has $10 million left on it next season. However, expiring contracts aren’t as big an asset in the new collective bargaining agreement because all deals are shorter-term. This could be a special night for the Raptors’ esteemed general manager Masai Ujiri on two levels. With a Toronto victory, the Raptors would dethrone the Knicks by clinching the Atlantic Division crown after five seasons of missing the playoffs with Bargnani, their 2006 No. 1-overall draft pick, as a featured piece. And if the Knicks lose and the Hawks beat the Nets in Brooklyn, they will miss the playoffs and the lottery pick will go to the Nuggets from the Anthony trade. Yes, it was Ujiri who shook down Dolan in February 2011 when he ran the Nuggets. Anthony takes the court Friday with a strained right shoulder, possibly playing his final week as a Knick. Bargnani is traveling with the club nowadays, but that’s all.
Trade bust Bargnani a big reason for Knicks’ awful season
New York Post | Apr 12