When Donnie Walsh took over as President of the New York Knicks, he vowed that there would be better days ahead for one of the NBA’s flagship franchises. The first step was banishing Isiah Thomas from the team. The next was bringing in Coach Mike D’Antoni.
But on Friday, he may have made his most aggressive step toward delivering on his promise to build a brighter tomorrow for New York.
Walsh exuded patience and savvy as he held onto his two most valuable players until the time came to strike with quickness and efficiency. Walsh pulled off two trades sending Jamal Crawford to Golden State and Zach Randolph and Mardy Collins to the Los Angeles Clippers. In return, the Knicks received Al Harrington, Cuttino Mobley, and Tim Thomas.
Crawford and Randolph are on contract to earn nearly a combined $28M in 2010-11, while the three incoming Knick players will all be off the books that summer. Who else becomes a free agent in the fabled summer of 2010? LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Tracy McGrady, and possibly Amare Stoudemire.
So instead of paying $28M to two guys who refuse to play defense and require 12 seconds of dribbling before forcing up a shot, why not make someone else pay that money (Golden State and Los Angeles) and invest it in LeBron and Amare? Well, now the Knicks will have that opportunity.
And for all of those people who say the Knicks are tanking this season after these two salary dump trades – wrong. Crawford is talented but streaky, while Randolph has always put up big numbers despite his phantom defense. But neither of them fully fit into D’Antoni’s system. They aren’t shooters and they don’t like to pass the ball.
Harrington, Thomas, and Mobley can all shoot from the outside and are all better suited to run the floor and drill open jumpers. This trade will make the Knicks better, even this year, for years to come.
So now when reporters crowd around LeBron James at his locker and continually ask him if he will end up in the capital of the world, there is finally some validity to the possibility that the Knicks will be major players in recruiting the game’s biggest star to the world’s biggest stage.