New York Knicks: The 2008 Jamal Crawford trade that opened cap space

New York Knicks Jamal Crawford (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
New York Knicks Jamal Crawford (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

In the latest edition of New York Knicks Trade History, a look back at the one-for-one trade of Jamal Crawford for Al Harrington in 2008.

When Donnie Walsh took over for Isiah Thomas atop the front office, it began the New York Knicks’ push towards 2010 free agency, which was set for LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Joe Johnson and other top players to hit the open market.

So, from 2008 to the months before the 2010 offseason, the Knicks worked to open the necessary cap space to sign multiple maximum contract players.

One of the first steps was trading a fixture on Thomas’ team.

What the Knicks traded

On Nov. 21, 2008, weeks into that NBA season, the Knicks traded Jamal Crawford to the Golden State Warriors. He was only 11 games into that campaign, averaging 19.6 points on 43.2 percent shooting and 45.5 percent on three-pointers, taking seven attempts per game from behind the arc in head coach Mike D’Antoni‘s offense.

So, why move Crawford if he was arguably New York’s best player? He was contracted through the 2010-11 season, and with an eye on money that leaves the books after 2009-10, it made the Michigan product expendable.

Crawford stuck in Golden State for the rest of the season, playing 54 games and averaging 19.7 points on 33.8 percent shooting from behind the arc. It became his lone stint there, as the Warriors sent him to the Atlanta Hawks in a 2009 trade for Speedy Claxton and Acie Law.

Success and NBA Sixth Man of the Year awards followed Crawford afterward, from the Hawks to the Trail Blazers and Clippers, before most recently playing for the Timberwolves and Suns. At age 39, though, his career may be over.

What the Knicks acquired

To move up the cap clearing efforts, the Knicks acquired Al Harrington, whose contract was set to expire after the 2009-10 season. He topped out at just over $10 million for that year’s payroll.

Harrington had no long-term future in New York. He arrived to contribute to the 2010 situation, eat minutes and take a main scoring role, which happened with 19.2 points and 5.9 rebounds per game in 140 appearances.

Like other players able to space the floor, Harrington thrived in D’Antoni’s offense, shooting over 35 percent from behind the arc. He was a solid fit, despite defensive woes hurting that overall value, much like others in these points-first, defense-second systems.

As expected, Harrington left in free agency, signing with the Denver Nuggets, playing two years off the bench, before quietly wrapping up with the Orlando Magic and the Washington Wizards.

This was a straight-up trade and helped the Knicks sign Amar’e Stoudemire in July 2010. This briefly revitalized New York basketball and opened the door for Carmelo Anthony‘s arrival. They made three postseason appearances together, but never advanced past the second round, and Stoudemire’s career was derailed by injuries.

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Still, it was a worthwhile trade for the New York Knicks to make at the time. It freed cap space long before 2010 free agency and helped change the franchise’s outlook.