With Stephon Marbury’s contract falling off the books of the New York Knicks in a few short months, the Knicks knew they had one max-contract to offer during the summer of 2010.
After Donnie Walsh was done dealing Friday, they had two.
The theme of the day was not so much about addition, but subtraction.
By the time Walsh was done, Jamal Crawford, Zach Randolph, and Mardy Collins were all gone. And so was one other very important thing—$27.5 million dollars from the Knicks’ 2010-11 payroll.
The first deal saw Jamal Crawford and his $10 million dollar 2010 salary shipped to the Golden State Warriors for Al Harrington, whose contract expires following the 2009 season.
But Walsh wasn’t finished, later in the day, Zach Randolph and Mardy Collins were also west coast bound, as they were traded to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for Cuttino Mobley and Tim Thomas.
Randolph is due $17.5 million in 2010, while Mobley and Thomas both have deals that expire, like Harrington’s, after next season.
"I think that opening up cap space down the road for us is a big plus on our side, and I hope our fans understand that they can give us an opportunity to make the team better according to the plan that I've outlined," Walsh said following the trades.
"So I'm trying to be true to what I said from day one, and that's what I'm doing."
Twenty months from now may seem like a long way off, but Donnie Walsh and Mike D’Antoni have had the summer of 2010 circled on their calendars since joining the Knicks.
That’s when the biggest crop of free-agent talent in basketball history hits the open market.
LeBron James. Dwayne Wade. Chris Bosh. They’ll all be available. And now, the New York Knicks can not only afford LeBron, but also one of his friends.
Let the countdown begin!
As you can imagine, the rumors and speculation have already begun. And so has the positioning among NBA franchises, which will surely be looking to add one of these superstars when the time comes.
Detroit Pistons President of Basketball Operations, Joe Dumars, recently traded Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson—not only to help this year’s team, but primarily to free up cap space two years from now.
All over the NBA, teams are gearing up, realizing that the first step towards having a shot in 2010 is to have money in 2010.
This is why Walsh should be given a medal.
In one fell swoop, he reversed all of the countless mistakes made by his predecessor Isaiah Thomas.
How bad was it?
When Walsh got to New York, he inherited the highest payroll in the NBA and a seemingly insurmountable salary-cap nightmare for the ages.
This is why Friday afternoon could end up being one of the most memorable in Knicks’ history.
Not for acquiring Al Harrington, Cuttino Mobley, and Tim Thomas within hours of one another, but for finally freeing themselves from the salary-cap hell Isaiah Thomas left behind.
Now Knick fans can dream big, real big, of a day when they might acquire LeBron James and Chris Bosh within hours of one another.
If that happens, New Yorkers will never forget the wheeling and dealing that took place on November 21, 2008. It will forever be remembered as Donnie Walsh’s finest hour.