When the Raptors traded away Andrea Bargnani to the Knicks this summer, the team not only rid themselves of a large contract that would hinder their rebuilding project, but they successfully performed an exorcism of sorts of a demon that’s haunted the team since 2006.
Bargnani never lived up to being the number one overall pick in the draft, from either a talent or a leadership standpoint. And with injuries limiting his ability to contribute over the past two seasons, he became the face of failure for a franchise that has finished out of the playoffs for the last five years.
Dealing Bargnani gave Toronto a fresh start, but it also meant that a player who has historically not performed well under pressure was suddenly thrust into the top media market in the U.S., and one that isn’t exactly known for extending patience or kindness to underperforming professional athletes.
But Bargnani is far from the main man in New York; that’s Carmelo Anthony’s role. And Anthony says that there can’t possibly be any pressure on his new teammate, because for the most part, it all falls on his shoulders.
“There ain’t no pressure on him,’’ Anthony said. “You come in and do what you got to do and play ball. All the pressure’s on me. It should be easy for him. It should be an easy transition for him, adjusting. Just do it the right way, it should be easy for him.’’
Anthony’s right to a certain extent, in that the Knicks will go largely as he goes. But there is one area where Bargnani could potentially receive a ton of criticism.
In this very same report, Anthony says he’d be fine sliding over to the three (small forward) position to play alongside Bargnani. The only problem is that Anthony has proven to be a far better player at the four (power forward) spot, which unintentionally puts plenty of pressure on Bargnani to produce when they’re on the floor together — especially if we see a dip in Anthony’s production.