The Brooklyn Game goes around the horn on the Brooklyn Nets agreeing to terms with Andrea Bargnani, who will sign a two-year deal for the veteran’s minimum, the second year a player option.
Best-case scenario for the Andrea Bargnani signing:
Devin Kharpertian: He plays 15 minutes per game, shoots ~36 percent from three-point range, he defends the post well enough, Lionel Hollins instills some basic rotational defensive principles in him, and he never has to defend anyone off the ball — or at least gives us classic GIFs when he does. His mistakes are endearing enough to give him Blatcheian Status and he masks them with unprecedented efficiency in a low-usage role.
Benjamin Nadeau: He replaces Mirza Teletovic because the one thing that Bargnani kinda, maybe, possibly can do is shoot threes. For now, the only decent shooters the team currently has are Joe Johnson, Bojan Bogdanovic, the newly signed Wayne Ellington, and potentially Ryan Boatright if he sticks around. That’s a scary thought. Defensively… I hate being this generic, but if anybody can fix Andrea Bargnani, it could be Lionel Hollins.
Mike Smeltz: Even though most of his career has been defined by potential over production, Bargnani has the potential to somewhat carry the scoring load off the bench, space the floor when he shares it with Brook Lopez, and allow Hollins to put shooters at every position but point guard when he slides Bargnani to center.
GIFs aside, Bargnani has been a productive offensive player. For the veteran’s minimum, he doesn’t have to be great to succeed. Plus, the entertainment value: if Hollins was disappointed in Lopez’s lack of defensive intensity and rebounding prowess, he’s going to go full Hulk Smash! with Bargnani. The most enjoyable Hollins is an angry Hollins. Best-case realistic scenario is something like 12 points per game, added versatility and greatly added entertainment value.
Worst-case scenario for the Andrea Bargnani signing:
Kharpertian: The Nets give him 15 minutes per game to prove that he belongs in the league, he proves that he doesn’t, the team continues to play him anyway, he puts up just enough inefficient 15-point games to stick around in the rotation, and he picks up his player option to do it all over again.
Nadeau: After two months, Bargnani is benched, Hollins moves his living arrangements to an actual dog’s house, Bargnani gets the Italian Mob involved, Prokhorov gets the Russian Mob involved, someone plasters cement to Barclays Center and sinks it to the bottom of the East River, the Nets franchise never to be heard from again.
Smeltz: Bargnani replaces Deron Williams as enemy number one in the locker room. More annoying than a bad attitude: someone who refuses to play through injuries and doesn’t hold their end of the bargain on the floor. Bargnani’s awful defense may even lead Joe Johnson to register some level of emotion. With the type of coach Hollins is, don’t be surprised to see Bargnani own a semi-permanent residence in the Hollins Hilton: Doghouse.
The big Italian isn’t making nearly enough money to ever be a big burden on the team, but worst-case scenario is it’s immediately clear he is ineffective and takes up a roster spot that should be going to a young player the team could take a chance on.
Two years (with a player option) at a minimum. Worth the risk?
Kharpertian: There’s a thought process that goes something like this: “It’s a minimum deal, so it’s no-risk.” I don’t agree. The risk is that the Nets play him, and he plays at the level he’s played at throughout the last four years. The risk is that the Nets have signed a backup center that had the worst on-off court differential of any player on the 17-65 New York Knicks. The risk is that they signed a player who had the league’s worst Real Plus-Minus among centers last season by a wide margin, and was nearly as bad the year before. The risk is that the Nets have committed two years of a backup spot to an inefficient player that has missed 175 games in the last four seasons.
Maybe he has a resurgence, and plays above and beyond what anyone expects. But there is no precedent or reason to believe that beyond blind faith. The risk is that he still is what he is, and the Nets have given one of their fifteen roster spots to a floor-spacing center that doesn’t space the floor or protect the center of it.
Nadeau: Sure? For a team that has preached youth, core, and development for the last two months, it’s puzzling that they’d intentionally step on that with a terrible defender and little room to grow. Bargnani should provide some much-needed shooting if he can stay healthy — a huge “if” — so I can understand where it’s coming from. But, to me, Jefferson and Alexander should’ve been the bigger priorities.
Smeltz: Absolutely. Bargnani is making nothing. I understand everything that comes along with the Bargnani experience — no defense, unreliable, a shoot-first-ask-questions-later style of offense — but for the dollar amount the Nets have signed him for, it’s not all that hard for the team to move on if things go south. I am betting more on the side that he is productive and helps the Nets win than him reaching his worst-case scenario.