Mike Woodson, Carmelo Anthony expect big impact from new Knick Andrea Bargnani
GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Mike Woodson didn't sound optimistic that Amar'e Stoudemire will be ready for the regular-season opener later this month, but he sounded positive that another offensive-minded power forward would make a big impact for the Knicks.
After Andrea Bargnani's first practice with the Knicks, Woodson said he thinks he can bring the best out of the former first overall pick. But Woodson wouldn't say acquiring Bargnani from Toronto had any correlation to the health of Stoudemire, who had a knee procedure over the summer.
"I don't think you can pass up on a piece like that," Woodson said after the Knicks opened camp Tuesday. "Bargnani, he's one of those, I think, gifted players that I think I can reach. And in reaching him, hopefully he can return it and help our team win basketball games and perhaps a title because I think he's good enough to help us."
The 7-foot Bargnani averaged 15.2 points in seven seasons with Toronto, but has been considered a disappointment after being taken No. 1 in 2006. Raptors fans turned on him last season when he scored 12.7 points in 35 games.
But a change of scenery could be the best thing for Bargnani, who has had three seasons with at least 100 three-pointers. Playing with Carmelo Anthony could help him, too, because Bargnani will get plenty of open looks and won't have as much on his shoulders as in Toronto.
"Ain't no pressure on him," Anthony said. "You come here and do what you do, play ball. All the pressure's on me. It should be easy for him. It should be an easy transition and adjustment for him. He just has to come here, play basketball, do what he's got to do and do it the right way.
"I'm looking forward to getting up and down the court with Bargnani. I know his capabilities. I know what he's about. I know what he can do. And for me, it helps me out a lot now to have another stretch four that can stretch the court, that can shoot, that create off the dribbles, create for him, create for others. It's another weapon we have."
Bargnani, who was acquired for Marcus Camby, Steve Novak, Quentin Richardson and three draft picks, had a rough summer. He contracted pneumonia and couldn't play for Italy in the EuroBasket tournament. He's still working his way back into shape, and could start for the Knicks depending on how camp goes.
Woodson likes the mismatches Bargnani can create and probably will play him a lot with Anthony regardless. It should help Bargnani's scoring output, but he said he's not concerned with that.
"The main thing is winning because in Toronto, we didn't go to the playoffs for five straight years, so I'm starving for winning and to get back to the playoffs," Bargnani said. "It's all about the team. I can score the ball. That's what I do. I hope that my scoring skills can help the team."
Notes & quotes: Woodson said Stoudemire and J.R. Smith (knee surgery) did some shooting . . . Anthony supported Woodson getting his 2014-15 option picked up. "I think it was an obvious move to do," he said. "We like coach Woodson. We know what he's about. We know what he stands for. We know he wants to win. What he was able to do with the team last year, just since he's been here, we've gotten better and better with him. We look forward to keeping him here."