The Knicks were in Toronto for a preseason game against the Raptors on Friday, so all eyes were on the players involved in the trade that went down between the teams this summer.
Andrea Bargnani leaving Toronto was the biggest part of the deal, considering his status as a former number one overall draft pick along with the albatross-like standing he had as the face of Raptors failure over the last several seasons.
But one of the former Knicks who was sent to Toronto in the trade had a more interesting story to tell about the way he was (or more appropriately, wasn’t) used in New York’s second round playoff loss to the Pacers last season.
From Marc Berman of the New York Post:
Former Knicks 3-point sniper Steve Novak admitted Friday he was very disappointed in Mike Woodson for not using him in the second round of the playoffs against the Pacers after he returned healthy from a sore back.
“Me and Mike were very open about it.,’’ Novak said after Friday’s morning shootaround at the Air Canada Centre before the Knicks face Toronto in a preseason game. “It wasn’t like a rift. Obviously he knew the whole time I wanted to play. I told him when I got healthy. I made sure I went up to him and said, ‘Listen, I’m 100 percent. Don’ t not play me because I’m hurt. I’m ready.’ ’’
Woodson responded, and agreed with Novak that there were no hard feelings. He said the decision was solely based on defensive strategy.
“That’s what coaches do,’’ Woodson said. “We change up and do certain things. In the playoffs, it’s strictly defense. I just went in another direction. It wasn’t anything Novak did. We wish him nothing but the best here.’’
The back injury that Novak suffered in the first round against the Celtics seemed like a fine excuse for the lineup adjustment, and it’s true — the Knicks could have used more shooters in that series against the Pacers.
The reality, however, is that Novak played the role of a specialist all season long, and was up and down in terms of his contributions, which were dependent largely upon how opposing defenses chose to play. Novak was inconsistent at best, and if Woodson didn’t feel like he could count on him on one end of the floor and knew he was essentially useless on the other, then despite the loss, he probably made the right decision.