MARBURY'S IN A NEW YORK STATE OF MIND



All-Star point guard Stephon Marbury, a Brooklyn native, has never made a secret of his love for New York. Now, 2˝ seasons after being traded from nearby New Jersey to Phoenix, "Starbury" is making his way to Manhattan.

On Jan. 5, the struggling Suns sent Marbury, Penny Hardaway and Cezary Trybanski to the Knicks for Antonio McDyess, Howard Eisley, Charlie Ward, Maciej Lampe, the rights to Milos Vujanic and two first-round picks. Phoenix waived Ward one day later.

Marbury brings his 20.8 points and 8.3 assists per game to the Knicks (14-21), who are now poised to climb into the Eastern Conference playoff picture. Hardaway, a former All-Star, should be a valuable backup to shooting guard Allan Houston.

"We've got a scoring point guard coming in, and a two-guard who's been getting it done for a number of years," Knicks forward Kurt Thomas said. "So it's going to be a different look for us out there, but it definitely should be an improvement."

Phoenix (12-22) has struggled since Amaré Stoudemire, the reigning got milk? Rookie of the Year, sprained his ankle Dec. 5. The trade with New York gives the Suns salary cap flexibility and allows them to rebuild.

Marbury and Hardaway have four and three years, respectively, left on their contracts. The contracts of McDyess and Ward expire at the end of this season, and Ward has a buyout clause that can be exercised before Jan. 10. All of which means Phoenix will have the money to make a run at a big-name free agent during the summer.

ISIAH REVAMPS THE KNICKS
Here is the Knicks roster on Dec. 22, the day Isiah Thomas took over as team president, and Jan. 5, the day of the Marbury trade (*injured list):
      Dec. 22, 2003
      Jan. 5, 2004
      Shandon Anderson
      Shandon Anderson
      Michael Doleac
      Michael Doleac*
      Othella Harrington
      Anfernee Hardaway
      Maciej Lampe*
      Othella Harrington
      Mike Sweetney*
      Moochie Norris
      Kurt Thomas
      Mike Sweetney*
      Slavko Vranes*
      Cezary Trybanski
      Charlie Ward
      Frank Williams
 
      Frank Williams
 
NEWCOMERS DEBUT
Stephon Marbury dished out eight assists in New York's 107-96 loss at Cleveland on Jan. 6.
Highlights: 56k | 300k

Antonio McDyess and Howard Eisley played limited minutes in Phoenix's 95-87 loss at Milwaukee on Jan. 7.
Highlights: 56k | 300k

NBA TV
Knicks' reaction:
Isiah Thomas: 56k | 300k | Full Allan Houston: 56k | 300k
WHO GOT WHO?
NEW YORK
PHOENIX
 
C. Ward (waived)
 
Milos Vujanic
 
Two first-rounders
GET YOUR TICKETS
New York and Phoenix meet twice:
Jan. 31 at N.Y., 7:30 p.m. ET
Feb. 25 at Pho., 9 p.m. ET
WHAT ARE THEY SAYING?
Knicks.com: 'This is a big day'
Suns.com: Dyess Man returneth
Suns.com: Eisley comments
Suns.com: Colangelo, D’Antoni
ESPN.com: Marbury overwhelmed
Daily News: Back in N.Y. groove
N.Y. Post: Return of Prodigal Sun
Republic: Suns start over again
Republic: McDyess back for now
Republic: Barbosa shines in loss
ESPN.com: Steph heads East
ESPN.com: Isiah's strongest point
ESPN.com: Fantasy spin
FANTASY NOTES
The most intriguing fallout of the Suns-Knicks trade will be how coach Mike D'Antoni addresses the point guard situation in Phoenix. Will he platoon Ward and Eisley, as Don Chaney did in New York, or will one of them get more minutes? How does rookie Leandro Barbosa (8.0 mpg) figure into the equation, if at all? Keep an eye on how this develops, as one of these players' fantasy stock could quickly rise.

Also in Phoenix, McDyess should see more minutes than he did in New York, and Joe Johnson suddenly becomes the second option on offense with the departure of Marbury and Amaré Stoudemire's injury.

In New York, Kurt Thomas -- who has seen diminished time of late -- and Dikembe Mutombo will benefit from the frontcourt void left by McDyess. Marbury will continue to put up the 20 points and eight assists he has his entire career.

AVERAGES THROUGH JAN. 4
PTS
REB
AST
MIN
6.7
2.0
4.7
22.1
8.7
2.9
2.9
25.8
20.8
3.4
8.3
41.6
8.4
6.6
1.1
23.4