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Trade Retrospective: Stephon Marbury To Knicks

With the Kevin Love trade saga now finally over, fans of all the teams involved are left to wonder whether or not their franchise got the better end of the deal. The Wolves dealt away their franchise player for a number of intriguing pieces, and the Cavs nabbed another star to pair alongside LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, while the Sixers chances to nab the No. 1 overall pick have improved markedly. It’s always a risky undertaking when dealing a top-tier player away, as many past trades have demonstrated. It’s with that in mind that I’ve been looking back at other blockbuster trades and how they have worked out for all involved.

So far I’ve examined the trades that sent Dwight Howard to the Lakers; Deron Williams to the Nets; Kevin Garnett to the Celtics; Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks; Chris Paul traded from the Pelicans to the Clippers; and the trade that sent Shaquille O’Neal from the Lakers to the Heat. Next up is a look at a trade that occurred on January 5th, 2004–the deal that sent Stephon Marbury from the Suns to the Knicks.

I’ll begin by running down the assets involved:

This trade had all the makings of a great story–a hometown star returns to change the fortunes of the Knicks franchise. Marbury was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and was a lifelong team fan. The Knicks were firmly mired in mediocrity, and this trade was intended to be a major step towards reversing the franchise’s fortunes.

Here are the Knicks’ records prior to trade:

  1. 2000/01: 48-34 (Lost in first round to Raptors)
  2. 2001/02: 30-52
  3. 2002/03: 37-45

The Knicks used this trade to acquire the star point guard they desperately needed, plus it also helped correct the less-than-stellar results of the franchise’s big move from the year before. I’m referring to the ill-fated deal that sent the draft rights to Nene; Marcus Camby; and Mark Jackson to Denver for Antonio McDyess and Frank Williams. McDyess was intended to be an anchor for the franchise, but instead he just added to his injury history, and only played in a total of 18 games in New York. Nene and Camby were much more productive over the years, and this trade ended up being one of the more imbalanced ones that you’ll see.

When New York made the Marbury deal, which was the first major move made during the Isiah Thomas regime, the Knicks hoped this would lead to a change in culture and a reversal of fortune. Things didn’t quite work out that way. Here are the Knicks’ records during the Marbury years:

  1. 2003/04: 39-43 (Lost in first round to Nets)
  2. 2004/05: 33-49
  3. 2005/06: 23-59
  4. 2006/07: 33-49
  5. 2007/08: 23-59

Not all the blame can rest on Marbury’s shoulders for the franchise’s lack of success. The Knicks didn’t have much talent around him, and a number of personnel moves ended up backfiring spectacularly during this era. But Marbury didn’t exactly perform up to the levels he did in Minnesota and New Jersey, either. Here are Marbury’s numbers during his time in New York:

  1. 2003/04: 19.8 PPG, 3.1 RPG, and 9.3 APG. His slash line was .431/.321/.833.
  2. 2004/05: 21.7 PPG, 3.0 RPG, and 8.1 APG. His slash line was .462/.354/.834.
  3. 2005/06: 16.3 PPG, 2.9 RPG, and 6.4 APG. His slash line was .451/.317/.755.
  4. 2006/07: 16.4 PPG, 2.9 RPD, and 5.4 APG. His slash line was .415/.357/.769.
  5. 2007/08: 13.9 PPG, 2.5 RPG, and 4.7 APG. His slash line was .419/.378/.716.

His first two years with the Knicks were excellent statistically, but he tailed off significantly starting with the 2005/06 campaign. Marbury’s lack of productivity led to him spatting publicly with then-coach Larry Brown.

Brown claimed that Marbury refused to take responsibility for his part in the team’s disastrous 2005/06 season. Marbury responded by saying, “I think it’s personal now. I don’t think it’s about basketball anymore. Now it’s to the point where he’s [Brown] putting his 30-year career against my 10-year career. You know, coach is a great coach is what everyone says. We’re supposed to be better than what we are. Did it happen now? No.”

Brown responded by saying, “So, you’re the best guard in the league and the team is 17-45, yeah, it’s the coach’s fault. I don’t know why you play a team sport and not be concerned about making your teammates better and helping your team win games. That’s the only thing that really matters, and if you’re the best player, surely you’re going to have some effect on the game’s outcome.”

That was Brown’s only campaign on the New York bench, and he was replaced the following season by Thomas, who also ended up clashing with Marbury, whose popularity was on the decline with the Knicks’ fan base thanks to all the issues and losing seasons. This player-coach feud culminated with rumors that Marbury and Thomas had allegedly gotten into a physical altercation at practice. Marbury further angered the organization and fans when he elected to have season-ending ankle surgery in February of 2008, which the team had deemed unnecessary at the time.

The Knicks explored potential trades for Marbury, but there wasn’t much interest in the then-31-year-old guard, who still had two years, and nearly $42MM remaining on his contract. Mike D’Antoni took over as head coach in 2008, and New York signed Chris Duhon as a free agent, and Duhon in turn won the starting point guard job during training camp. Marbury was placed on team’s inactive list. He and the team debated over his role and playing time, and when they were unable to come to an accord on a potential buyout, Marbury was banned from attending any practices or games.

The Knicks and Marbury finally reached a buyout arrangement in February of 2009, and after clearing waivers, he signed with the Celtics. Marbury finished out the season with Boston, averaging 3.8 PPG and 3.3 APG. The Celtics offered him a contract for the veteran’s minimum of for the 2009/10 season, which Marbury declined. He has been out of the league ever since.

Penny Hardaway was a shell of the superstar player he was during his years with the Magic. Injuries had taken their toll on his production and ability to remain on the court. Hardaway hadn’t lived up to the seven-year, $86MM contract he had inked in 1999 as part of the sign-and-trade deal that sent him from Orlando to Phoenix.

Hardaway was productive for the remainder of the 2003/04 season, and he played well in the Knicks’ first round playoff series loss to the Nets, averaging 16.5 PPG, 5.8 APG, 4.5 RPG, and 1.5 steals. After that he would only appear in 41 contests over the next two seasons due to injuries. Hardaway’s numbers with the Knicks were:

  1. 2003/04: 9.6 PPG, 4.5 RPG, and 1.9 APG. His slash line was .390/.364/.775.
  2. 2004/05: 7.3 PPG, 2.4 RPG, and 2.0 APG. His slash line was .423/.300/.739.
  3. 2005/06: 2.5 PPG, 2.5 RPG, and 2.0 APG. His slash line was .286/.000/1.000.

His time in New York ended in February of 2006 when he was traded back to Orlando, along with Trevor Ariza, for Steve Francis. Hardaway was then waived by the Magic in a cost-cutting move.

Cezary Trybanski only appeared in three games for the Knicks, averaging 0.3 PPG. He was then traded to the Bulls along with Othella Harrington; Dikembe Mutombo; and Frank Williams, for Jamal Crawford and Jerome Williams. Trybanski was waved by Chicago prior to the start of the season and he has been out of the league ever since.

The Suns made this deal to free up cap space for the summer of 2004, when they hoped to make a splash in free agency and build around their core of Amar’e Stoudemire, Joe Johnson, and Shawn Marion.

The Suns records prior to the trade were:

  1. 2000/01: 51-31 (Lost in first round to the Kings)
  2. 2001/02: 36-46
  3. 2002/03: 44-38 (Lost in first round to Spurs)

This deal is an odd one in that the Suns gave up the best player, didn’t receive much long term value in return, essentially squandered the draft picks they acquired, yet still came out ahead in the end. This is all thanks to the free agent signing of Steve Nash in July of 2004. All Nash did was win the MVP award in his first season and lead the Suns to the Western Conference Finals.

The Suns’ records post trade:

  1. 2003/04: 29-53
  2. 2004/05: 62-20 (Lost conference finals to Spurs)
  3. 2005/06: 54-28 (Lost conference finals to Mavs)
  4. 2006/07: 61-21 (Lost in second round to Spurs)
  5. 2007/08: 55-27 (Lost in first round to Spurs)

Howard Eisley finished out the rest of the 2003/04 season with Phoenix, averaging 7.1 PPG and 3.4 APG, then reached a buyout arrangement with the Suns for the remaining two years of his deal. Eisley then signed a one-year, $1.1MM contract with the Jazz that summer.

Charlie Ward was waived the day after the trade by Phoenix and was picked up shortly after by the Spurs for the rest of the 2003/04 season, when he averaged 3.3 PPG and 1.3 APG. Ward appeared in 14 games for the Rockets during the 2004/05 campaign, and then retired after the year.

Milos Vujanic was originally selected by the Knicks with the No. 36 overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft. He never appeared in an NBA game, and played eight seasons in the Euroleague and Italian League before retiring in 2009.

Maciej Lampe was another second-round selection by the Knicks, taken with the No. 30 overall pick back in 2003, but he never appeared in a game while with New York. After the trade Lampe averaged 4.6 PPG and 2.1 RPG for the Suns. Lampe’s time in the desert came to an end in January of 2005, when he was traded along with Casey Jacobsen and Jackson Vroman to the Pelicans for Jim Jackson and a 2005 second-rounder (Marcin Gortat).

Antonio McDyess finished out the 2003/04 season with the Suns, averaging 5.8 PPG and 5.8 RPG. After the season he became a restricted free agent and signed with the Pistons, where he stayed for five seasons, and he became a valuable contributor off of the bench.

Both first round draft picks that the Suns acquired in the Marbury trade were later packaged along with Tom Gugliotta and a 2005 second-rounder (Alex Acker) and sent to Utah for Keon Clark and Ben Handlogten. This ended up being a terrible trade for Phoenix, as neither Clark or Handlogten appeared in an NBA game after being acquired by the Suns.

Utah used the 2004 first-rounder to select Kirk Snyder with the No. 16 pick. Snyder was a bust and was traded after one season to the Pelicans. His career numbers in four NBA seasons were 6.3 PPG, 2.3 RPG, and 1.1 APG. Some notable players that Utah could have had with that selection instead of Snyder were Josh Smith, J.R. Smith, Jameer Nelson, Kevin Martin, Anderson Varejao, and Trevor Ariza.

It’s the other draft pick from the Marbury trade that is more haunting to both Knicks and Suns fans. With the No. 9 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, the Jazz selected Gordon Hayward. Let’s look at Hayward’s numbers since entering the league:

  1. 2010/11: 5.4 PPG, 1.9 RPG, and 1.1 APG. His slash line was .485/.473/.711.
  2. 2011/12: 11.8 PPG, 3.5 RPG, and 3.1 APG. His slash line was .456/.346/.832.
  3. 2012/13: 14.1 PPG, 3.1 RPG, and 3.0 APG. His slash line was .435/.415/.827.
  4. 2013/14: 16.2 PPG, 5.1 RPG, and 5.2 APG. His slash line was .413/.304/.816.

Hayward signed a four-year, $62,965,420 offer sheet with the Hornets this summer, which the Jazz quickly matched in order to keep Hayward in Utah for the foreseeable future.

Like I mentioned earlier, this is an odd trade in how it worked out. This became another failed deal during the Isiah Thomas years for the Knicks. The franchise could have benefited long term from retaining those two first-rounders, and saved themselves a number of headaches and public relations hits that resulted from Marbury’s presence on the team.

The Suns came out OK here, despite not receiving any long term assets besides salary cap room. Their signing of Nash away from the Mavs was a turning point in the franchise’s fortunes, and it wouldn’t have been possible if Phoenix hadn’t dealt away Marbury’s and Hardaway’s contracts. But it’s still hard to give them too much credit, seeing as they later gave up the two valuable first rounders they had acquired to Utah for essentially no return.

The Suns win this by default, but it’s interesting to imagine what might have happened had they held on to those picks and nabbed Josh Smith and Hayward instead. That would have truly been a landslide victory for them in regards to this deal, rather than winning it by default. The Marbury trade is a prime example of the risks involved for all franchises when making blockbuster deals. Knicks fans are still feeling the pain from all the misfires during 2000s, which included this one.

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