The New York Knicks cleared roughly $28 million from their payroll last week by packaging their two leading scorers for Cuttino Mobley, Tim Thomas and Al Harrington. The Knicks are going to miss Jamal Crawford and Zach Randoph’s production, but not as much as has been reported.
Crawford put up 19.6 ppg for the Knicks, but shot just 43% from the field. Randolph averaged 20.5 ppg and 12.5 rpg, but like Crawford, did so inefficiently. Randolph shot an equally mediocre 43% from the floor.
Mobley hasn’t exactly lit up the competition this year (43%), but his catch-and-shoot ability should be a better fit for Mike D’Antoni’s offense than the dribble-happy Crawford was. Mobley is also a better defender than Crawford.
Al Harrington has been M.I.A. in Golden State after making his trade demand public 5 games into the season. Harrington is a career double-digit scorer who can stretch the defense with his three-point shooting (38% last season). Harrington’s long-distance shooting will be put to good use in New York where the Knicks rank among the league leaders in three-point attempts per game.
Tim Thomas is the X-factor. Thomas doesn’t possess great speed or athleticism, so at first glance, he appears to be an odd fit in D’Antoni’s offense. A career underachiever, Thomas was signed by the D’Antoni led Suns in 2006 and played 26 games for Phoenix. Thomas excelled under D’Antoni, averaging 15.1 ppg on 49% from the field and 44% from the three-point line in 20 playoff games. Don’t expect Thomas to pick up where he left off, but he should be revitalized after spending two seasons in Mike Dunleavy’s highly structured offense. Thomas scored 16 points in his Knicks debut against the Cavaliers, connecting on 4-of-8 three-point attempts.
The Knicks will miss Randolph’s rebounding ability, but Jared Jeffries’ impending return should help solidify New York’s frontcourt.
New York’s primary objective was to put themselves in position to go after the free-agent class of 2010, and to that end, Donnie Walsh’s moves should be considered a slam dunk. There’s going to be an adjustment period, but it’s not as if the Knicks gave up two All-Star caliber players or conceded this season completely. Give the Knicks 5 games to get reacclimated with one another, and they’ll be back to their running and gunning ways.