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Knicks trying to get Andrea Bargnani

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The New York Knicks are close to finalizing a trade for power forward Andrea Bargnani, which would send Steve Novak and Marcus Camby to the Toronto Raptors, a league source confirmed. The trade could be official as soon as Monday, when the free agency period opens at 12:01 a.m. ET.

The New York Times earlier reported the development, and the newspaper also mentioned the trade would involve the Knicks giving up their first-round pick in 2016.

It’s worth noting that Bargnani is represented by Leon Rose, whose clients include the Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith. In addition, Knicks general manager Glen Grunwald is the former GM of the Raptors, the team that drafted Camby with the second overall pick in 1996.

Camby and Novak’s salaries total about $8.7 million for next season.

Bargnani, 27, is due to make $23 million in the next two seasons. If the trade goes through, he’ll also receive a $500,000 bonus as part of a trade kicker. Financially, the situation makes the potential trade a bit of a head-scratcher as the Knicks are already over the luxury tax threshold. In addition, Bargnani, the No. 1 pick in the 2006 draft, has missed 98 games in the past two seasons due to injuries. Last season he had to shut it down in early March because of an avulsion sprain in his right elbow.

However, Bargnani’s expiring contract heading into the 2014-15 season will give the Knicks some cap flexibility in 2015, when also Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler’s salaries all come off the books.

Trading for Bargnani is also viewed as potential insurance if Smith decides to bolt in free agency. A few teams, including the Detroit Pistons, Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns, are preparing to make higher offers than the Knicks to sign the Sixth Man Award winner. The Knicks can only offer $5.58 million with early Bird rights, but they still feel like they have the upper hand. In fact, Smith has agreed, along with his family, to first meet with Knicks coach Mike Woodson and the team’s front office on Sunday night to discuss his future in New York.

If Bargnani joins the Knicks, they’ll be hoping that he and Stoudemire are able to get back on track in the health department. It’s unclear at this point how Bargnani’s role would affect Stoudemire’s, but one could start at power forward and the other could be the backup.

If the overall situation doesn’t work out, the Knicks will look bad again for giving away more draft picks which would prevent their future building. But the Bargnani move would represent the Knicks’ focus to win a championship by 2015, and the pressure is further on with the Brooklyn Nets — their Atlantic Division rival — upgrading with Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry.

Another league source said that the Knicks could also pursue point guard Aaron Brooks, who was recently waived by the Houston Rockets. Rose, who represents Brooks, told ESPNNewYork.com earlier this month that Brooks would be a “good fit” in New York for his transition game and 3-point shooting — two keys in the Knicks’ offense looking ahead to next season.

The Knicks have been interested in Brooks in the past, and they need to secure a backup point guard this offseason. They would like to re-sign Pablo Prigioni, but they have no assurances from him yet that he’ll return to New York or head back to Spain, where he played professionally for many years.

By Jared Zwerling


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