The New York Knicks need brittle center Andrea Bargnani to show stones

Bargnani must become a tough New Yorker.

With Tyson Chandler shelved for 4-6 weeks with a right fibula fracture, New York Knicks coach Mike Woodson expects Andrea Bargnani to see “big minutes” at center.

Acquired on July 10 in a trade with the Toronto Raptors, the 28-year-old Bargnani has struggled and averaged 8.8 points, 2.0 rebounds and 0.5 assists in four games as a Knick.

Particularly concerning, the 7-foot, 256 pound Bargnani hasn’t blocked one measly shot.

Brittle and possibly lacking testicular fortitude, the passive Italian’s a major defensive liability for New York.

Bargnani, who was stricken with pneumonia and declared unfit to participate in September’s Eurobasket tournament, has a lot to prove as an employee at The World’s Most Famous Arena.

Currently pocketing $10.8 million and holding an $11.5 million option for 2014-15, the first overall pick in 2006 must finally mature into a consistent force on the hardwood.

Kenyon Martin and Metta World Peace are aging and Amar’e Stoudemire recently underwent his third knee surgery in the span of a year.

Accordingly, with a couple of graybeards and gimps on their roster, Bargnani’s importance to the Knicks (1-3) has dramatically increased.

Going 54-28 and advancing to the Eastern Conference semifinals, the Knicks certainly had an impressive 2012-2013 campaign.

However, especially with Chandler’s injury, it’s impossible to claim New York’s better than the Brooklyn Nets, Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls or Indiana Pacers.

Losers of three consecutive contests, Bargnani needs to remain healthy and shine Friday against the Bobcats in Charlotte.

Without a sturdier and tougher Andrea Bargnani, the Knicks will miserably disappoint fans in Gotham this winter.

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