The Toronto Raptors didn’t have a ton of postseason success in the pre-Masai Ujiri era, and that meant that they were often joined in the basement of the Atlantic Division by the New York Knicks, who have spent plenty of time wallowing in James Dolan-created muck.
While the two have never had the most vitriolic rivalry, due both to the geography and the fact that the two teams have rarely both been good at the same time, the
The Knicks were able to get one over on the Raptors when they traded an aging, declining Charles Oakley for Marcus Camby, who would go on to have a long career as one of the best defensive players in the game. Luckily, Toronto took their turn fleecing the Knicks in the middle of the last decade.
The Toronto Raptors got revenge for the Camby deal by trading Andrea Bargnani to the Knicks when it was clear that despite his scoring abilities, he was never going to be the franchise player Toronto mandated he evolve into. What happened next directly led to Toronto becoming the champions of the NBA for the first time ever.
The Toronto Raptors robbed the Knicks in the Andrea Bargnani trade.
PF Andrea Bargnani
SF Steve Novak
C Marcus Camby + SF Quentin Richardson (Both released)
2016 First-Round Pick (Jakob Poeltl)
2014 Second-Round Pick (Xavier Thames) + 2017 Second-Round Pick (Jonah Bolden)
On the surface, this deal doesn’t look amazing. Novak averaged just 3.3 points per game in one season with Toronto, Camby and Richardson didn’t play a game with the Raptors following that trade, Thames never played in the NBA, and the pick that became Bolden was traded first to Utah in order to ditch Novak’s contract.
However, the Raptors were able to acquire the pick that became Poeltl. While he had two alright seasons in Toronto, he was an integral part of the trade that brought Kawhi Leonard to Toronto and helped the Raptors take home their first championship in franchise history.
Bargnani, meanwhile, did score 13.9 points per game in his two seasons with the Knicks, but those were some hollow scoring numbers on two Knicks teams that missed the playoffs. One of those teams won just 17 games. After one more year in Brooklyn, he was out of the NBA.
Bargnani was a solid player in his prime, but when you look at how he rebounded and defended for someone his size, the results were less than encouraging. Still, the Knicks felt the need to upset the apple cart and reinvent the rotation. Blinded by his scoring numbers, they gave Toronto some valuable ammo in their quest to land a game-changer like Leonard.