The Other Side: New York Knicks
This is the second time that the Wizards will face the Knicks this season, but it could be the first time they will face this Knicks team. Knicks President Donnie Walsh made sure that Stephon Marbury no longer dominated the headlines - for at least a few hours - by making two trades on Friday that could potentially help the team in the short term, but especially in the long term. Marbury is still making headlines, but more on that later.
As for the trades, Walsh's first move was acquiring forward Al Harrington for shooting guard Jamal Crawford. Walsh has a long history with Harrington - he drafted Harrington out of high school in 2000, traded him to Atlanta, traded for him again, then later traded him to Golden State.
Then, later in the afternoon, he traded Zach Randolph and Mardy Collins to the Los Angeles Clippers for Tim Thomas and Cuttino Mobley. The trades came with the Knicks off to a relatively good start at 6-5. The undermanned team dropped to 6-6 following a 104-87 loss in Milwaukee on Friday.
I asked an Eastern Conference scout about the deals and he was ecstatic. "I really like them," he said. "Not for the future, for right now. I think it makes them a better team."
The scout said the Knicks got three players who should flourish under Mike D'Antoni's uptempo style. Thomas played well during a short stint in Phoenix three seasons ago. Harrington likes to get up and down, and Mobley is a shooter. "He should have a rebirth there," the scout said. "Unless he's done."
But everyone knows the real reason why the Knicks made these trades. "For LeBron," Knicks guard Nate Robinson told reporters in Milwaukee.
Here's what you need to know about the Knicks heading into the game tonight at Madison Square Garden:
1. The Knicks Are Preparing For 2010
The trades shaved about $27 million from the Knicks' salary cap in the summer of the 2010. The Knicks will be almost $40 million under the projected salary cap to sign a maximum contract to one or possibly two free agents. The free agent class that summer is ridiculous with such names as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire and Dirk Nowitzki possibly entering the open market.
2. The Wizards Might Not See Newcomers
Tim Thomas and Cuttino Mobley were both in Philadelphia on Friday night, so they didn't have far to go to make it to New York in time for the game. But with the players likely having to pass physicals prior to the deals being finalized, there is a good chance that the Knicks won't be able to put their new team on the court until Tuesday - when the Knicks host LeBron James and the Cavaliers. A little ironic, huh?
The Knicks only had eight players in uniform against Milwaukee, with three players leaving in trades, Eddy Curry, Jared Jeffries and Danilo Gallinari injured, and Jerome James dealing with a family matter. One of those players is expected to be in uniform.
3. The Stephon Marbury Situation Won't Die
Marbury has been buried on the bench all season, with Mike D'Antoni refusing to play him and making it clear that he isn't about of the plans. With the Knicks down to just eight players in Milwaukee, D'Antoni activated Marbury and told him that he was going to get 30 to 35 minutes against the Bucks. How did Marbury respond? He refused to enter, according to D'Antoni. Marbury offered a more vague explanation. But he is sticking it right back to D'Antoni, who at least publicly said he doesn't consider what Marbury did insubordination. The Knicks will have to rid themselves of Marbury sooner than later.
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