Warriors swap Harrington for Knicks' Crawford

Warriors swap Harrington for Knicks' Crawford

Warriors swap Harrington for Knicks' Crawford
November 21, 2008

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -The Golden State Warriors traded disgruntled forward Al Harrington to the Knicks for guard Jamal Crawford on Friday in a swap that addresses both the Warriors' injury problems and New York's salary cap concerns.

``I drafted Al back in 1998, and I think his talents are a great fit for our style of play,'' Knicks president Donnie Walsh said in announcing the deal in a statement. ``This trade also gives us more long-term flexibility while enabling us to remain competitive this season.''

The swap of two veteran scorers solves problems for both clubs. Harrington hadn't played for the Warriors in more than two weeks after angering coach Don Nelson with a public trade request, while the high-scoring Crawford's departure will save the Knicks about $10 million against the salary cap by 2010.

``I am really excited and energized about this opportunity,'' said Crawford, who's averaging 19.6 points per game. ``The Warriors have been one of the most entertaining and fun teams in the league the last few years, and I think my abilities are very conducive with their style and their needs.''

Golden State hosts the Chicago Bulls on Friday night, while the Knicks visit the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Knicks are attempting to excavate themselves from the heap of long-term contracts and salary-cap constraints bequeathed to Walsh by Isiah Thomas. Walsh wants enough cap space in 2010 to make a run at the league's top free agents, who might include LeBron James - and ditching Crawford's lucrative contract through 2011 is a good start, even if Harrington can't match Crawford's scoring and skill.

``To acquire a player of Al's caliber, we had to give up someone we all really liked in Jamal,'' Walsh said.

Harrington, who grew up in northern New Jersey, joined the Warriors in a trade with the Pacers in January 2007. He played a large role in ending Golden State's 12-season playoff drought later that year, but the 6-foot-9 perimeter shooter grew disenchanted with his role in Nelson's offense last year.

Harrington, whose scoring average declined in each of the last two seasons from his career-best 18.6 points for Atlanta in 2006, is making $9.2 million this year. He's scheduled to get just over $10 million next season, the final year of his deal.

Crawford led the Knicks with a career-best 20.6 points per game last season, and the streak-shooting guard thrived this season in the uptempo offense of Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni. But he is scheduled to earn $9.36 million in 2009-10 and $10.8 million in 2010-11 unless he exercises an early termination clause in his contract next summer.

``We think he is an excellent fit for our style, and the fact that he can play multiple positions as a combo guard is a big plus,'' said Chris Mullin, the Warriors' embattled top basketball executive. ``Additionally, he is a player who can help us immediately due to some of our injuries and, looking down the road, would have the ability to play with any combination of players in the backcourt.''

Crawford will join a team already rich in talent at shooting guard, but he could provide a short-term solution to Golden State's woes at point guard, where the team expected Monta Ellis to begin this season after Baron Davis' defection to the Clippers. Instead, Ellis is out until at least mid-December after injuring his leg in a motorized scooter accident, leaving the Warriors without a strong ball-handler.

Golden State's last two first-round draft picks have been forwards Brandan Wright and Anthony Randolph, who both play Harrington's position but have more potential as inside players and rebounders.

Harrington hasn't played for the Warriors since Nov. 5, when Nelson criticized his effort and announced the club would play Wright more. Wright still isn't playing much, but Stephen Jackson is logging major minutes as the Warriors' power forward in a small-ball lineup while Harrington sits out with what the team claims is a sore back.

It's the first major deal for Walsh, who replaced Thomas in April, and D'Antoni expects more.

``The thing is, I think this will happen a few times during the year, because I think Donnie has got his plan, and he will execute it as he sees fit,'' D'Antoni said.

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