One bright spot in the New York Knicks loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves Sunday night was the performance of forward Andrea Bargnani.
Bargnani scored 14 points in 19 minutes but was benched in the fourth quarter despite being the Knicks’ best shooter on the night.
That alone makes you wonder how long it is going to be before Bargnani will earn Knicks’ head coach Mike Woodson’s trust to the point where he can be used late in games.
That answer could be never.
One of the main reasons I wasn’t a big fan of the Knicks acquiring Bargnani is the mere fact that they gave up two players, three draft picks and brought on a huge contract for a guy who really can’t be used in the fourth quarter of games.
While Bargnani may be able to help early in games score some points, he is not a good defender or rebounder and it is clear that he hasn’t earned Woodson’s trust yet on the defensive end of the floor to be used in key situations.
Couple that with the way Woodson won’t use Amar’e Stoudemire in fourth quarters due to his defensive deficiencies and Woodson has a pair of forwards that he won’t turn to in crunch time. That’s not an ideal situation for any coach.
Bargnani hasn’t been bad.
While many Knicks have struggled to shoot the ball in the early going, the former No. 1 overall pick has connected on 13-of-26 shots, including draining 3-of-9 from behind the arc. For a guy that has struggled shooting the ball for the past two years and in the preseason this year, that is an encouraging sign. However if Bargnani was brought in to be a legit scoring option, he has to see more than the 19 minutes of run he got Sunday night.
But that’s not going to happen until he earns the trust of Woodson at the other end of the floor.
What’s more likely to happen is that Woodson will continue to go small in fourth quarters with a lineup that consists of Raymond Felton, Pablo Prigioni and Iman Shumpert on the floor late in games.
That trio nearly helped bring the Knicks back from a big deficit Sunday night, but that won’t always be the case.
It’s hard to necessarily blame Woodson. You can’t have guys who are liabilities at one end of the floor out there in close games.
The Knicks knew, at least they should have known, the type of player they were getting in Bargnani.
If that’s the case, they paid an awful steep price for a guy is going to turn into nothing more than a role player on this team, one that can’t be used inn big situations.
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