Knicks welcome in Randolph, may not be done with moves
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- New Knicks forward Zach Randolph took a couple of swings with the hockey stick he'd just been handed, then grabbed a spot alongside the Rangers' two new additions for a photo.
It's shopping season in New York, and the Knicks might not be done yet.
Acquired from Portland in a draft-night trade, Randolph was introduced Monday by the Knicks, who will pair him with center Eddy Curry to form what they hope will be a powerful frontcourt.
"I'm not going to have a problem playing team ball and helping this team win, because that's what I want to do," Randolph said. "I started out in Portland when it was good, we made it to the playoffs and I stayed there when it went bad. And I'm just ready to go to a winning team and make the playoffs."
The Knicks haven't done that since 2004, but Randolph's arrival should move them in the right direction. And he might not be New York's last move of the summer.
Coach and team president Isiah Thomas said the Knicks have been "active" since the NBA's free agency period opened Sunday in hopes of landing another star from the Pacific Northwest, Seattle's Rashard Lewis.
"We've had discussions with his agent," Thomas said. "He's a person of interest."
The other Madison Square Garden tenants had a big day Sunday when the Rangers signed free agents Scott Gomez and Chris Drury. Thomas wouldn't say how hopeful he was of landing another big name of his own, but plans to try.
"If a player's out there that can make us better and we have an opportunity to get him, I'll try to do that," he said.
With guards Fred Jones and Dan Dickau also coming from Portland, the Knicks have the maximum 15 players under contract, and still have to sign first-round pick Wilson Chandler and possibly Demetris Nichols, a second-round pick of the Blazers whose rights were acquired in a separate deal Thursday night.
Randolph was the centerpiece of the deal after averaging a career-best 23.6 points and 10.1 rebounds -- the second 20 and 10 season of his career. But his record on the court often gets overlooked because of the one he's built off it with a number of legal problems.
But Jones thinks that will all change with Randolph out of Portland, where the Blazers were the only game in town and couldn't hide from the spotlight.
"He just needs a change of scenery, he needs to just come out and let the people respect him for his game," Jones said. "I don't think he got all the stuff for his game because of all the stuff that people have portrayed of him off the court. Twenty and 10 guys are All-Stars in the league every year, he's never been an All-Star. So that was the problem in Portland."
Some of it was Randolph's own doing.
His past troubles have included an arrest for driving under the influence of intoxicants after a police officer said he smelled marijuana in Randolph's car; and a guilty plea to a charge of underage drinking in his Indiana hometown. A woman filed a $2 million civil lawsuit against Randolph last season, claiming he sexually assaulted her.
"I'm a man. I made mistakes when I was young, but that's all over with," Randolph said. "I'm on a fresh start and just try to bring this team back to the playoffs."
Randolph knew he was likely to be traded after the Trail Blazers won the draft lottery and the right to pick Greg Oden. But Dickau, a Portland native, and Jones, who took less money last season for a chance to play in his hometown, were surprised to be moved.
Thomas said neither player was a "throw-in," and Dickau is hoping for a chance to contribute as he joins his sixth different NBA team.
"I love a challenge, and there's no bigger challenge than playing in New York," he said.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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