By Shannon McKeown
RotoWire Staff Writer
The Knicks Enter 2010 Free-Agent Battlefield
On Friday, Knicks general manager Donnie Walsh completed two trades that created the necessary cap space for his team to join the super sweepstakes that is the 2010 offseason. The first trade sent Jamal Crawford packing to the Golden State Warriors in exchange for Al Harrington. The second deal – which is temporarily on hold due to a heart problem with Cuttino Mobley - saw Zach Randolph and Marty Collins headed to the Clippers for Mobley and Tim Thomas.
By now, everyone knows the summer of 2010 marks the arrival of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and a handful of other supremely talented NBA stars hitting the free-agent market. Unloading the contracts of Randolph and Crawford would give the Knicks around $27 million to throw at King James and others.
The fallout from the trades can be found below, along with other risers and fallers in the ever-shifting NBA stock market.
Around the League
Every week, we'll use this space to track players whose fantasy value is improving, declining or uncertain. We're not particularly concerned with hot or cold streaks - all players toss up a 2-for-10 every now and again - unless they're extreme or seem to indicate an underlying problem or injury. Instead, we'll be looking at changes in playing time or role or skill level.
Al Harrington (NYK) – The biggest winner coming out of the Knicks' deals should be Harrington. After rotting away on the Warriors bench for the majority of the season, Harrington finally got his wish with a ticket out of town. He should thrive in coach Mike D'Antoni's up-tempo offensive scheme, using his Rasheed Wallace-like skills to play an inside-outside game. The Knicks are extremely thin in the frontcourt after trading Randolph, so look for Harrington to get plenty of run from the moment he puts on a Knicks jersey.
Cuttino Mobley (NYK) – Through 11 games with the Clippers, Mobley was seeing decent run, averaging 33 mpg and scoring 13.7 ppg. While the minutes will probably hover around the same amount in New York, Mobley should see an increase in production under D'Antoni. Mobley's ability to stretch the court form beyond the arc is a talent that D'Antoni won't let go to waste, so look for a spike in 3pm from the 12-year vet - assuming his heart condition checks out.
Tim Thomas (NYK) – Under coach Mike Dunleavy in Los Angeles, Thomas was seeing an inconsistent 22 mpg. He should see a boost in the Big Apple as he fits the mold of a big man with an outside game that should thrive in D'Antoni's system. Look for Thomas to be in the mix for minutes at power forward as the Knicks till surely run a small lineup the majority of the time.
Eric Gordon (LAC) – In the Clippers first two games after trading away Mobley and Thomas, Dunleavy went with Ricky Davis at shooting guard. After two subpar outings from the 11-year vet, Davis was replaced in the starting lineup by Gordon. The rookie took advantage of the opportunity, scoring 25 points in the first start of his career. Gordon relies on his jump shot, so his play will be inconsistent, but if he continues to start, fantasy attention will be warranted.
Damien Wilkins (OKC) – Interim coach Scott Brooks has revamped the lineup, opening the door for Wilkins to start at shooting guard. It's unlikely he'll light the world on fire, but given consistent minutes, Wilkins could produce similar to last year's numbers while starting (11.1 points, 3.8 boards).
Nick Collison (OKC) – Here's another lineup change by Brooks. Collison is expected to start at center, sliding over from power forward. The move could open up more minutes for Collison, allowing him to come closer to his averages of 9.8 points and 9.4 boards from a year ago.
Russell Westbrook (OKC) – The Thunder's firing of P.J. Carlesimo was at least partly due to his handling of the team's young talent, so we figure Westbrook is in line for a boost of playing time. Westbrook's shooting percentage (32 percent) has been horrific, but he has still managed to average 12 points through his first 14 games as a pro. Once his shooting woes get worked out, don't be surprised if Westbrook becomes another rookie making a significant fantasy impact this season.
D.J. Augustine (CHA) – Coach Larry Brown decided to experiment with his rookie point guard last week, inserting him into the starting lineup alongside Raymond Felton in the Bobcats backcourt. The results have been great as Augustine has averaged 21 points, seven assists and 3.3 three-pointers in his three starts. With the return of Jason Richardson (knee) looming, Augustine's stay in the starting lineup might be short lived, but there's no doubt that his recent play has earned him more minutes.
Jamal Crawford (GS) – Crawford finds himself in the "Check Status" section because his value isn't likely to change with the move to Golden State. Coach Don Nelson's offensive scheme is similar to D'Antoni's, so Crawford should still be able to chuck from anywhere at anytime with his new squad.
Jason Richardson (CHA) – Richardson (knee) returned to practice on Tuesday and should be seeing game action in the near future. He should slide right back into a starting role, so feel free to play him as soon as he returns
Kevin Martin (SAC) – The Kings still haven't announced a timetable for Martin's return from a sprained ankle, but he should return soon. He worked out on Monday and is feeling "a lot better".
Francisco Garcia (SAC) – After missing the first 16 games of the season, Garcia (calf) is eyeing Friday's tilt against the Jazz as his return date. If he is floating on your waiver wire, now would be the time to snag him.
Jameer Nelson (ORL) – The Magic's point guard left Monday's game against the Bucks after straining his groin. He is listed as day-to-day, but is expected to miss at least a week. Make sure you get him to your bench.
Zach Randolph (LAC) – The resurgent Randolph was playing the best ball of his career under D'Antoni in New York, so a move to a slower-paced offense will surely cause a drop in his production. Another issue that Randolph will have to deal with is the Clippers suddenly deep frontcourt, as he'll have to battle Chris Kaman and Marcus Camby for minutes. Now would be the best time to sell Randolph if you can find a willing taker.
Kelenna Azubuike and Anthony Morrow (GS) – Coach Don Nelson's rotations are an annual frustration for fantasy owners, and Friday's acquisition of Crawford figures to further complicate things from a fantasy perspective. One of these two will be relegated to bench duty once Crawford suits up for the Warriors, but it's anyone's guess which one it will be. Temper your expectations for both and keep in mind that when Monta Ellis returns, both will be playing with the second unit.
Johan Petro (OKC) – Petro was one of the casualties of the Carlesimo firing as he received a DNP-Coach's Decision in the first game coached by Brooks. He was only receiving 18 mpg, so owners in deep leagues should be able to find a worthy replacement.
Kevin Love (MIN) – The Timberwolves are playing well with Love coming off the bench, so look for the rookie big man to continue seeing a reserve role for the near-term. With averages of 5.7 points and 5.6 boards in his past seven games, you can probably find better options than Love in the free-agent pool.
Article first appeared on 11/25/08