"We felt like with Zach, he's a heck of a player. He's probably
going to be an All-Star in the East. But with [Greg] Oden and
LaMarcus [Aldridge] and Channing Frye we have a group of young guys
we can build around. ... We felt we were going in a different
direction,'' Blazers general manager Kevin Pritchard said.
"We really felt we had to give those two guys [Oden and
Aldridge] a chance to develop," Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. "And the only way to do that is to get out and play."
Francis has only two seasons left on his contract, worth just over $34 million, but possesses the option to become a free agent after next season. The Blazers, however, are planning to buy out Francis' contract and make him a free agent this summer, sources said.
Yet even if they changed course and decided to keep Francis, his arrival would still provide Portland with some long-term payroll relief, since Randolph has four seasons left on his contract worth more than $61 million.
Randolph averaged 23.6 points and 10.1 rebounds in a breakout season in 2006-07 but has faced an uncertain future in Portland since late May, when Portland won the No. 1 overall pick in the draft lottery and the right to select Greg Oden. But the Blazers, who continue to put a premium on good citizenship after years of turmoil, prefer to jettison Randolph and build around a front line of Oden and LaMarcus Aldridge.
But neither Randolph's troubled off-court past nor the fact that New York already has a low-post presence in Eddy Curry appears to concern Knicks president Isiah Thomas.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.