The New York Knicks certainly made a splash on the trade front to start off this weekend as they traded Jamal Crawford to the Golden State Warriors for disgruntled forward Al Harrington; they made a trade later on, sending Zach Randolph and Mardy Collins to NBA purgatory the Los Angeles Clippers for Cuttino Mobley and Tim Thomas. At first glance, one might think why did the Knicks do this deal? Let’s dissect this one, shall we?
Firstly, Donnie Walsh has always liked Harrington; both have a history back when Harrington and Walsh were with the Indiana Pacers a decade ago, yet I don’t think that he is in New York’s long-term plans, in light of his current contract (can you say “rent-a-player”?). There’s this thing that the Knicks has been working on since last season – big-time salary cap relief.
One may also think why trade the best player on your team (Crawford) for Harrington? Again, it was for salary cap relief – pure and simple. Randolph and Collins to the Clippers? Pretty much for the same reason. Then there’s the Stephon Marbury factor; expect the Knicks to release him at any time, which frees up even more money for the future. Folks, the Knicks are looking at the big picture with these transactions – the big picture being one LeBron James.
It’s no big secret that the Knicks have coveted James for what seems like forever, and they are simply firing the pre-emptive strikes to get their man; so in essence, New York is sacrificing 2008 and probably 2009 in order to get James. Also keep in mind that with the salary cap relief they will realize with these transactions, they will be able to afford not one but 2 “max contracts”; what this will mean is that come 2010, not only will they try to secure James, but because of the mother lode of free agents available in 2010 (read: Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, etc.), the Knicks will indeed have not only the money but the options to make some noise just before the 2010 season kicks off.
So don’t confuse the Knicks’ recent trades as transactions designed to provide personnel fits that are compatible; if that was the case, then Crawford would still be in New York right now. So as it stands right now, Walsh and the Knicks are fully prepared to make that run to get James and perhaps another superstar in 2 years’ time. Of course, this exercise by the Knicks will not mean a thing if James decides to remain in Cleveland come 2010. If that’s the case, then Walsh better have a Plan B, otherwise, the Knicks will have wasted two years of their existence in their quest to obtain the best player in the NBA – which would be a shame.