Knicks coach Mike Woodson said he believes Andrea Bargnani will turn over a new leaf in the Big Apple now that’s he gone from The Maple Leaf of Canada.
The Toronto Raptors were desperate to get rid of Bargnani, who had fallen out of favor with Canadian fans after failing to live up to being the No. 1 pick in the draft. The trade was approved by the NBA on Wednesday.
The Knicks believe with their player-development staff, they will get the 7-foot Bargnani back on track as he’ll wear a new number – 77.
“I don’t knock anybody’s camp and what they’re doing,’’ Woodson said Wednesday before the Knicks summer league practice at UNLV. “Fact he was available was good enough for me. I thought Bargnani has the opportunity to get back on his game with us. I’ll put him in the best position I can to see that happens in terms of him being successful in helping us win.
“Players go through ups and downs,’’ Woodson added. “That’s behind him. It’s a new slate in terms of him being in a Knick uniform.’’
The addition of Bargnani is the chief reason the Knicks believe this has been a good summer despite not signing an outside free agent. Woodson’s only critique is Bargnani’s lackluster rebounding numbers.
“I’m very excited about it,’’ Woodson said. “He’s a talented kid who has some good years in the league in the early stage of his career. He fits everything of what I’m about in how we play and style of play. He’s a 7-foot guy who can do a lot of things – he can post, shoot from the perimeter, put it down. He’s got to get better in rebounding the ball.’’
In his career, Bargnani has averaged15.2 points on 43.7 percent shooting, but just 4.8 rebounds in 30 mpg.
Woodson said it will be a positive that Bargnani will play for Italy’s National Team in the European Championships that start Sept. 4.