Friday, November 21, 2008

Another team is clearing space for a spectacular 2010 FA class

In one 24-hour period, the New York Knicks have officially made themselves real players for the NBA's best free-agent class in a generation, and can now realistically make a run not only at LeBron James, but perhaps multiple free agents in the summer of 2010.

Today, clearing Crawford's $10 million from the table was not enough for Donnie Walsh's day of shedding salaries. Not only did Donnie Walsh shed Crawford's long contract in his first major player transaction as president of the Knicks, but he also shed Zach Randolph's long contract.

Randolph was traded to the Clippers, while Crawford was dealt to the Golden State Warriors. The three players going to the Knicks - Al Harrignton, Cuttino Mobley, and Tim Thomas - all have contracts coming off the table in time for the highly anticipated 2010 FA class that could include the likes of Lebron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwayne Wade.

Harrington's mobility and versatility made Donnie Walsh - the man who originally drafted him in 1998 - and Mike D'Antonio very attracted to Harrington, who had become disgruntled with the Warriors. As Donnie Walsh and D'Antonio saw, he will help them win games immediately with his multi - positional skills, while also helping Walsh's future plans of financial flexibility.

The other team involved in this deal, the Warriors, saw Crawford as a versatile guard, who can function well in Don Nelson's system with and without Monta Ellis. It's something to remember that Crawford is coming off a career best 20.6 points per game average last year, so this deal meshes with Walsh's plan to shed salary. This trade was not a trade made based on impacting the team's ability to win games.

Randolph had also adapted well to D'Antonio's system, but just became another part in Walsh's plan to shed salary when he was dealt to the Clippers for Tim Thomas, who shined with D'Antonio in the playoffs with the Suns, hitting a big three against the Lakers in the 2006 first round matchup, propelling them past the first round and eventually into the Western Conference Finals. However, no one was dealt to the Knicks today because of the talents that they could bring to the Knicks.

Although the Knicks have begun the process of sheding long term contracts and the process of acquiring contracts that will expire before the 2010 season, what players would even be on the roster to surround Lebron and to more importantly, attract Lebron to the Big Apple? Donnie Walsh might have to ask himself before that time if he has built a team who can compete for the championship. Because I don't believe that Lebron James or any other free agent would consider a team led by Gallinari, Chandler and guards Nate Robinson and Chris Duhon -- even if it is in the media capital of the world.

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