Suddenly resurgent former No. 1 overall pick Andrea Bargnani has Knicks president Phil Jackson interested in re-signing him on a reasonably priced deal this summer, a league source tells Marc Berman of the New York Post. Berman heard from an executive that the Leon Rose client would command at least a one-year deal for the minimum salary, though another exec told Berman that the forward/center would merit no more than that. Bargnani almost certainly won’t end up with a salary anywhere close to his $11.5MM pay for this season, yet the interest from the Knicks is a sharp turnaround from earlier this season, when the club reportedly shopped him on the trade market and mulled buyout talks.
The Knicks have the ability to sign Bargnani to a veteran extension between now and June 30th, the final day before his contract expires, but such extensions are rare and that outcome is probably remote. He’ll nonetheless represent a $17.25MM cap hold on New York’s books should he indeed hit free agency, so the Knicks seem destined to renounce his Bird rights to clear that hold and open cap room to sign other free agents, though that’s just my speculation. The Knicks would have to use cap space, an exception, or the minimum salary to sign Bargnani if they renounce him.
Bargnani appeared a likely buyout candidate as the trade deadline approached, but Jackson publicly cast doubt on that idea, pointing to the 29-year-old’s scoring ability. He’s put up 18.6 points on 13.4 field goal attempts in 31.1 minutes per game in five appearances as a starter over the past 10 days, and he was a 21.4 PPG scorer in 2010/11 for the Raptors.
The native of Italy made it clear last week that he wants to remain an NBA player rather than head back overseas, though he wouldn’t specifically address a long-term future with the Knicks when asked, Berman notes. Rose, his agent, is also the representative for Carmelo Anthony, as Berman points out, though the influence of the Creative Artists Agency on the Knicks hasn’t appeared as widespread as it was before Jackson’s tenure began.