Monday, July 2, 2007

Knicks Reel in Randolph

July 2, 2007
By Anthony Tripicchio

There are two sides to every story. The Knicks acquisition of forward Zach Randolph is no different.

For you NBA fans that have been living under a rock since Thursday, the Knicks landed Randolph, Fred Jones, and Dan Dickau for Channing Frye and Steve Francis on draft night. They also obtained the rights to Demetrius Nichols for their 2nd rounder next year.

First, lets look at the deal on the court. Offensively, Randolph adds an important dimension to the Knicks’ offensive arsenal. He can score with a mid-range jumper and in the paint. More significantly, Randolph is a 25-year-old bonafide low-post presence. Most teams in the NBA are scouring earth for one big man who can score on the block and Randolph gives the Knicks two when you couple him with Eddy Curry. He also rebounds which is a necessity for any power forward you play on this team since Curry doesn’t.

On the defensive end, the deal isn’t as promising. Randolph is not a shot blocker and never will be. He has a reputation for being lazy and he isn’t the athlete that Isiah usually covets. Critics of the trade will knock the Knicks’ overall team defense, which is certainly justified, but Frye is no defensive force himself. Randolph doesn’t help the team defense at all, but shouldn’t exacerbate it either. Portland played a lot of zones to hide their defensive deficiencies last year so Randolph should fit right in to Thomas' man to man that prominently displays all of the Knicks' vulnerabilities. The Knicks hope Randolph's prolific offensive game will mask some of his defensive inadequacies.

To be honest, no Knick fan should be upset with losing Frye or Francis. Frye regressed in his sophomore campaign and Francis was incompatible with Stephon Marbury. If there was no salary cap and Randolph was a model citizen, you would think Isiah took a page out of Marty McFly’s book to fool Portland into taking these two flawed players. “Hey Kevin Pritchard,” Isiah would say. “What the hell is that?” Then he would throw a right hook at him, and take Randolph from him while he was dazed on the ground.

Unfortunately, we know why McFly’s technique was not applicable in this case. Randolph was available for two reasons. First, he’s got four years and $61 million left on his contract. Second, Randolph has a rap sheet long enough to impress Pacman Jones. Portland says they want to clear the way for Greg Oden and LaMarcus Aldridge, but if Randolph was devoid of the aforementioned characteristics, he would still be a Trail Blazer.

His contract situation is relevant to the Knicks because, for the first time in seemingly three centuries, the Knicks would have been under the cap in 2009 before this trade was agreed upon. Now that the deal is done, the Knicks will be under the cap around the same time Lindsay Lohan trades in her acting career to become a rocket-scientist. We may never see it in our lifetimes. With that reality comes the cruel fact that the Knicks will never be able to sign a true superstar like Kobe Bryant when he is a free agent in 2009.

Randolph found trouble in Portland, so you can bet that trouble will find him in New York City. Isiah will try to convince Randolph that the art in New York’s museums is far more enticing than that of the pole dancing one would observe at Scores. I’m not sure Randolph will agree.

If the team meshes on the court and Isiah can baby-sit Randolph, the Knicks are going to be a top five team in the Eastern Conference next year with room for growth in the future. If not, all Thomas did was bury the Knicks further into oblivion. Randolph better be worth it, or it’s Isiah’s head.