Bargnani ready for fresh start with Knicks

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Andrea Bargnani failed to live up to expectations in Toronto, after being drafted No. 1 overall. But Knicks coach Mike Woodson thinks things will be different in New York.

"I just think Bargnani, he's one of those gifted players that I think I can reach," Woodson said after the Knicks' first workout Tuesday. "And in reaching him, hopefully he can return it and help our team win basketball games and perhaps a title. Because I think he's good enough to help us."

Bargnani battled the flu for several weeks over the summer, but he said he's fully healthy entering training camp. Now he has to work on getting back into basketball shape.

"My main focus right now is to get back in great shape because the last two years in Toronto I had lots of injuries unfortunately," Bargnani said Monday. "So I'm going to get back in shape and once I'm there I'm going to do whatever Coach asks me to do in order to help the team win."

The Knicks traded Marcus Camby, Steve Novak, Quentin Richardson, a 2016 first-round pick and two second-round picks to the Raptors for Bargnani in the offseason. Some observers were critical of the trade, saying then-GM Glen Grunwald gave up too much for him. In 2012-13, the 27-year-old averaged just 12.7 points per game on 40 percent shooting, and he missed 47 games due mostly to elbow injuries.

Pneumonia forced Bargnani to sit out of EuroBasket last month and stay off of the basketball court for a few weeks. "Right now I'm OK," Bargnani said. "But I've got to get back to game shape."

Woodson plans to use Bargnani and Carmelo Anthony on the floor together at times this season. In that scenario, Anthony envisions that he'll guard the opponent's wing and Bargnani will defend the power forward. On offense, Anthony would likely continue to get opportunities to operate in the post.

Anthony said he's intrigued by playing alongside Bargnani because it will allow him to share the floor with a seven-footer who can stretch the defense. "It's just another weapon that we have," he said.

Playing in New York should also take some pressure off Bargnani. He was the face of the franchise the last few years in Toronto. But he won't be the No. 1 option with the Knicks.

"Ain’t no pressure on him," Anthony said. "You come here and do what you do, play ball. All the pressure’s on me."

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.