Al Harrington really wanted to come back to the Knicks this season.
After a successful 2009-10 campaign as the team’s sixth man, Harrington hoped that he would stick around to play alongside the likes of LeBron James and Chris Bosh to finally bring a winning mentality back to New York City basketball.
Instead, the New Jersey native was told he was no longer in the Knicks' plans. Harrington’s rights were renounced as the team signed players like Amar'e Stoudemire, Raymond Felton and Timofey Mozgov.
No help to Harrington this past summer was his special relationship with Knicks President Donnie Walsh, who has acquired Harrington a total of three times. After drafting Harrington out of high school with the Pacers, Walsh reacquired him for a second run with the Pacers after previously trading him away. Finally, Walsh traded for Harrington once more with the Knicks.
Despite appearing like the kind of player Coach Mike D’Antoni would favor in his system (Harrington is a lengthy forward who can play multiple positions, run the floor and shoot the long ball), the two never seemed to build a positive rapport.
"The writing was on the wall," said Harrington. "I wasn't his type of player. I know there were some people who didn't want me there, some who did but the coach didn't."
Perhaps it was Harrington’s sometimes erratic shooting or his less than stellar defense (some may wonder when that’s ever stopped D’Antoni from playing someone) that worked against him, but in any event, Harrington was still rewarded for his near "Sixth Man of the Year" season, signing a five-year deal worth approximately $33.4 million with the Nuggets.
Denver has seemed to use Harrington’s plentiful skill set to its advantage. In addition to letting him shoot the three ball, the Nuggets are using Harrington more often under the basket as a post player, where he has been able to capitalize on easy hoops and fight for rebounds.
With their big men Kenyon Martin and Chris Andersen nursing injuries, Harrington has had to play a fair amount of time at center but has yet to disappoint. After scorching his former team for 22 points in just 21 minutes during the Nuggets' 120-118 win over the Knicks Tuesday night, Harrington is averaging 14.5 points and 5.6 rebounds per game thus far.
While he hoped to play with multiple superstars in New York this season, Harrington has instead joined forces with another major star in Carmelo Anthony. Although he’s getting tired of the Melo-to-Knicks rumors, Harrington has made it no secret that he has had conversations with Anthony about his time in New York, which could work against the Knicks.
It’s possible that Harrington praised the professionalism of Knicks management (Donnie Walsh), but then again, he is also almost sure to recount his turbulent relationship with the Knicks coaching staff.
Harrington would not reveal what exactly he has addressed with Anthony regarding New York, just simply that such conversations have already occurred. He did mention, however, that he felt as though Danilo Gallinari was given favored star treatment by Knicks brass, which led to tension in the locker room.
Although Harrington praised Gallo for not letting the immense praise go to his head, he certainly won’t let that stop him from attempting to convince Anthony to stay with the Nuggets.
If Harrington and the Nuggets can play well enough to stay in contention for the NBA title, perhaps they can convince Anthony to stay. Currently, the Knicks are not proving to be in contention for anything more than the NBA Draft Lottery.
Despite experiencing those same types of struggles during his two seasons in New York, Harrington wanted to show loyalty and was willing to stay in New York until the team finally found success.
Instead, he has already seemingly found success elsewhere as the Knicks still struggle to get wins.
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