Suns send first-round pick Robinson to Knicks

Updated: June 29, 2005, 12:52 AM ET
Associated Press

PHOENIX -- The Phoenix Suns used their first-round pick to select Nate Robinson on Tuesday night, then sent him to New York to complete the trade of Quentin Richardson to the Knicks for Kurt Thomas.

 Quentin Richardson
 Kurt Thomas

The deal has been in the works for some time, but wasn't finished until the Suns selected the dynamic 5-foot, 9-inch University of Washington guard with the 21st pick. As part of the trade, Phoenix got New York's second-round pick, Dijon Thompson. Thompson, a 6-7 guard-forward from UCLA, was the 54th selection.

The Suns wanted the 6-9, 235-pound Thomas to add some inside strength and defense to their high-velocity offense and were willing to give up Richardson, a quick starter at small forward for their NBA-best, 62-win team but a streaky shooter whose accuracy went awry in the playoffs.

"Q was a piece of what we were doing last year and helped us put up 62 wins," Suns president Bryan Colangelo said, "but we're shooting for something more now."

The Suns knew that they couldn't rely on speed and shooting alone to get past the new NBA champion Spurs, who defeated Phoenix 4-1 in the Western Conference finals.

"We're shooting for everything," coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We're not building for the future. The future's right now. We're trying to get over the mountain of San Antonio now, and this helps us."

Thomas, 32 and a 10-year NBA veteran, ranked sixth in the NBA in rebounds at 10.4 per game last season while often playing center for the undersized Knicks. He averaged 11.5 points per game, and his ability to shoot from the outside fits into the Suns' system.

"He'll take it out and run down the floor and we'll have four stallions going ahead of him," D'Antoni said. "He'll follow up with some smart basketball and be able to shoot. Defensively we're better, at rebounding we're better. I mean, the guy's good."

Thomas' presence will allow Amare Stoudemire to slide more often into his natural power forward role and have Thomas defend the opponent's best offensive inside player.

"We pledged to Amare after the season we were going to go out and get someone to help inside, and this is certainly going to do that," Colangelo said.

Shawn Marion could shift back to small forward, and would not have to guard the bigger, more physical power forwards, as he did last season.

Knicks president Isiah Thomas envisions Richardson as part of a remodeled, up-tempo Knicks team.

"He fills a void we had in the backcourt. We had a hard time with the bigger guards," Thomas said. "I love the talent that right now is on our roster I love the completeness now of our roster."

Richardson is entering the second year of a six-year, $45 million contract he signed with the Suns as a free agent a year ago after spending his first four seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers. Richardson altered his usual post-up game to adapt to the Suns' fast-breaking style. He led the NBA in 3-pointers with 226 and 3-point attempts at 631.

Richardson, who averaged 14.9 points per game for the Suns, set a franchise record with nine 3-pointers against New Orleans last Dec. 29. He averaged 11.9 points in 15 playoff games.

Robinson, leaving college after his junior season, was a third-team all-American, averaging 16.4 points per game for the Huskies.

Thomas is due about $22 million over the next three years, the last year at his option.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press