TORONTO – Steve Novak never wanted to be traded by the Knicks, never wanted to leave New York. But the sharpshooter was the key piece in the deal that brought the Knicks new starting power forward Andrea Bargnani.
“I didn’t expect it,” Novak said after the morning shootaround. “ You understand this is the business we’re in. New York felt like home. It was a place I love to play and I miss. I miss those guys. It’s not easy being traded. But there’s no doubt Toronto is a great city and good place to be.”
Novak had his two best seasons with the Knicks – he led the NBA in three-point accuracy in 2011-12 – and was a fan favorite. But for the second straight postseason he was ineffective because defenses wouldn’t give him any room to shoot and ultimately Mike Woodson didn’t give Novak much playing time.
In the Indiana series the Knicks lost in six games, Novak totaled nine minutes and scored just three points. Back spasms kept him out of Game 6 against Boston in the first round, but Novak said he was ready to go against Indiana.
“Me and Mike were very open about it. It wasn’t like a rift,” said Novak, who has reunited with another ex-Knick Landry Fields in Toronto. “It wasn’t like a rift. He knew I wanted to play. When I got healthy I made sure I went up to him and said I’m 100 percent, don’t not play me because you think I’m hurt. I’m ready. He went another way.
“I called him the night in the hotel and told him I’m ready. As a player you want to play. I look back on my career and the coaches that played me I loved. The coaches that didn’t play me I don’t like, but you respect. He made a lot of good decisions. You just want to be out there. It’s the playoffs. It’s an important time and you want to be out there.”
Woodson said it was a coach’s decision and he was looking for more defense.
“In the playoffs it’s strictly defense and I just went in another direction,” Woodson said. “It wasn’t nothing that Novak did. I thought Novak played well last season. We wish him nothing but the best here. I went in a different direction. This summer we went in a different direction. We moved on and I wish him nothing but the best.”
The Knicks sent Novak, Marcus Camby, Quentin Richardson and three draft picks to Toronto for Bargnani - another shooter who doesn’t play much defense. But they think Bargnani can score a variety of ways, and should benefit from playing with Carmelo Anthony as well as help spread the floor.
Bargnani averaged 15.2 points in seven years in Toronto, but left on a sour note. The Toronto fans turned on him and booed him often last season when his production dipped – he averaged 12.7 points - and injuries limited him to 35 games. He’s looking forward to resurrecting his career with the Knicks.
“Seven years is a long time,” Bargnani said. “There was a lot of talk about trade the last year. It was a tough season. I had a lot of injuries. It is what it is. You got to move on and get motivated and take on new challenges.”
The Knicks play again tomorrow, and Woodson said he might rest some of his veterans. He already told Metta World Peace he might give him the night off when the Knicks play the Celtics tomorrow in Manchester New Hampshire. But Woodson is expecting resistance from World Peace.