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.