After all the drama and debate, the grand spectacle that has paralyzed the sports world for the last few weeks has finally come to a close: LeBron to the Heat to play with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. For New York fans, it’s an unfortunate turn of events. However, in the midst of this evening’s media circus, the Knicks were finishing up a deal of their own as David Lee was sent to the Golden State Warriors via sign-and-trade––a deal that’s worth $80 million over six years. In return, New York got Anthony Randolph, Ronny Turiaf and Kelenna Azubuike.
Lee certainly deserved the big contract. He averaged a double-double for three of the past four seasons (and this was for a 6-9 power forward playing out of position). It’s too bad Lee is moving away from the Knicks. For all the darkness and despair the team has produced in recent years, he has often been the lone bright spot.
So, who are the newest New York Knicks and how will they fit into the current roster?
Let’s start with Anthony Randolph. The 6-10 forward/center was taken by Golden State with the 14th pick in the 2008 NBA Draft. At only 21 years old, Randolph has shown a lot of promise. In his first two seasons in the league, he’s averaged a respectable 9.2 points and six rebounds in only 17 minutes per game. However, he is injury-prone, missing more than half of last season due to a serious ankle injury.
Also standing at 6-10 is forward/center Ronny Turiaf. In his five seasons in the league (two with the Warriors, three with the Lakers), he has averaged only 4.9 points and 4.5 rebounds a game. But Turiaf has shined on the defensive end, averaging 1.7 blocks a night. Coming off the bench, he brings the type of toughness and can-do attitude the Knicks desperately need.
Arguably the strongest player of the bunch is Kelenna Azubuike. The small forward out of Kentucky began his professional career in the NBA D-League and miraculously worked his way up into a regular role with the Warriors (a rarity for current D-Leaguers). Since joining Golden State midway through the 2006-07 season, his numbers have continued to improve. Although he sat most of last year with a torn patella tendon, he averaged 14.4 points and 5.0 rebounds a game the season before. He is a terrific mid-range and three-point shooter, and is also capable of handling the ball. However, the wild card in all of this is how Azubuike will respond coming off a serious knee injury.
As of now, all three will likely be coming off the bench. But if Mike D’Antoni ever decides to implement his “Seven Seconds or Less Offense” on a regular basis, Randolph, Turiaf and Azubuike will find themselves right at home. Warriors’ head coach Don Nelson runs a style of play similar to the “Seven Seconds” scheme; one that revolves around a fast-paced offense (often referred to as “Nellie Ball”).
The Knicks’ building process has seemed extremely sluggish during this off-season, but Donnie Walsh is slowly constructing a team around an already solid group of role players. So what comes next? Without the LeBron signing, the Knicks still have a significant amount of money. But one week into an already unpredictable off-season, it’s impossible to tell where things are headed.