Sit tight, Knick fans, there are only 20 months to go before LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Amare Stoudemire become free agents. That may seem like a long time to wait for players you aren't guaranteed to acquire, but there may not be much else of interest happening with the team until then.
Hours after shipping Jamal Crawford to Golden State for Al Harrington, the Knicks have agreed to trade power forward Zach Randolph, their leading scorer and rebounder, and backup guard Mardy Collins to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for forward Tim Thomas and guard Cuttino Mobley, To be more accurate, they dealt Randolph, 28, and Collins, 24, for the contracts of Mobley, 33, and either Thomas, 31. The fact that they also play basketball is of secondary importance.
Like Harrington, their deals expire after the 2009-10 season, just in time for the Knicks to enter the bidding for the four impressive free agents-to-be listed above. The two moves would lop more than $24 million in salary off the books for the 2010-11 season, which is clearly the only goal that general manager Donnie Walsh has when it comes to roster management. The Knicks dropped their two leading scorers today, a clear sign that this month's dalliance with a winning record won't be repeated for quite some time.
The biggest question in the short term is if the Knicks will now relent and let Stephon Marbury play ball. They certainly need his scoring ability now and are down to just seven, eight if you count Jerome James, healthy bodies for games against the Bucks and Wizards on Friday and Saturday.
In the long term, the biggest question is, of course, if Walsh's King-size gambit pays off. If it does, a couple more years in the basement are a small price to pay but, if it doesn't, the Knicks may be looking up at the rest of the NBA well into the next decade.