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Bargnani getting a fresh start

Knicks hope ex-Raptor can revert to old form

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NEW YORK -- The New York Knicks believe a new home will help Andrea Bargnani regain his old form.

The Knicks acquired the former No. 1 overall pick from Toronto, hoping he can rally from a poor 2012-13 season and help them remain among the top teams in the Eastern Conference.

Elbow injury

Bargnani battled an elbow injury last season and his scoring average dropped to just 12.7 points in 35 games in what was his worst season since his second year in the league.

SSLqLast years were tough for me because I had so many injuries. I wasn't really able to play continuously during the season and that really affects your rhythm and your shape'

-- Andrea Bargnani

But the Knicks sent three players and three draft picks to the Raptors, counting on Bargnani's outside shooting and hoping for improvement in his rebounding and defence.

"I think the opportunity here of a fresh start in New York -- and he's very excited about that opportunity -- will lend to him getting back on track to being the player that we all hoped he would be," Knicks general manager Glen Grunwald said Thursday during a conference call.

Bargnani was the top pick in 2006 and just three seasons ago averaged a career-best 21.4 points. But the Raptors made the playoffs only once since drafting him and were eager to rid themselves of the two years and about $22.2 million remaining on his contract.

The 7-footer from Rome shot less than 40 per cent last season and his 3-point shooting has hovered around 30 per cent for the last two years. He said that's because of his injuries, including a sprained right elbow last season.

"Last years were tough for me because I had so many injuries," Bargnani said. "I wasn't really able to play continuously during the season and that really affects your rhythm and your shape.

"I missed like more than half of the season, so it was definitely a huge factor in my last year's season. It wasn't a major injury, but it was very tricky and it forced me to stay sidelined for many games. So it was really bad."

He said he is healthy now and will play this summer for Italy in the European championships.

The Knicks also announced the re-signing of J.R. Smith, the Sixth Man of the Year last season. They previously re-signed guard Pablo Prigioni but are losing Chris Copeland, who accepted an offer from Indiana that they couldn't match.

That leaves them with plenty of work to do to avoid falling back after a 54-win season in 2012-13 and their first Atlantic Division title since 1994. Grunwald said they have only 10 players under contract and are hoping to bring in a third point guard and some depth in the front court.

Kenyon Martin is being considered for the latter after playing well for the Knicks after joining them late last season.

For now, they have little more than the deal for Bargnani, which sent forwards Steve Novak and Quentin Richardson, and centre Marcus Camby to Toronto. The Knicks also sent the Raptors a 2016 first-round draft pick and second-round selections in 2014 and 2017.

 

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 12, 2013 C6

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