LAS VEGAS - Mike Woodson knows the Nets improved their roster with their blockbuster trade for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. That much is obvious.
But when the Knicks coach was asked about the ongoing debate over which of New York City's teams is now the better one, he cracked a smirk.
He's not about to hand over that title without a fight.
"At the end of the day," Woodson said, "you still need to play the games."
In Woodson's mind, perhaps all the talk of how much Pierce and Garnett are going to make the Nets better has overshadowed the moves the Knicks have made to tweak their roster.
Although not as flashy, the Knicks' trade for Andrea Bargnani from the Raptors -- which was made official Wednesday -- is reason enough for Woodson to get excited about next season.
Speaking before the Knicks' second day of summer-league practices on the UNLV campus, Woodson said Bargnani's versatility as a 7-footer who has the ability to shoot from three-point range "fits everything I'm about in terms of how we play, our style of play."
Woodson acknowledged Bargnani had a rough time in Toronto, viewed by many fans there as a disappointment after being drafted first overall in 2006.
"Hey, players go through ups and downs in this league," Woodson said. "It's a part of playing professional sports. That's behind him. This is a new slate in terms of him being in a Knicks uniform."
Bargnani averaged 21.4 points and shot 44.8 percent, including 34.5 from three-point range, during the 2010-11 season, probably his best season as a pro. But injuries have limited him to only 66 games over the last two seasons, and his numbers have suffered as a result.
Woodson said he spoke with Bargnani on the phone and said the 27-year-old told him he's healthy and preparing to play for Italy in the European Championships.
"This kid is a talented kid, I don't care how you cut it," Woodson said. "You average 21 in this league and 19, I mean, the guy can play. I just got to make sure we put him in the best position possible. And the way we play, I don't see that being a problem."
Even though Bargnani is not a prototypical 7-footer, the Knicks can use all the big men they can get, especially with Woodson acknowledging that Amar'e Stoudemire again will have a minutes restriction in hopes of protecting him from breaking down.
Notes & quotes: With the NBA moratorium on offseason acquisitions lifted, the Knicks made the Pablo Prigioni signing official and are expected to do the same Wednesday with J.R. Smith's new deal. Those contracts bring them to nine players signed to guaranteed deals. They also signed undrafted free agent C.J. Leslie, who is on their summer- league team, to a partially guaranteed deal.