Marbury lands with fourth team of career

NEW YORK -- Stephon Marbury is returning to his hometown as part of a blockbuster trade between the New York Knicks and Phoenix Suns on Monday.

The Knicks acquired Marbury, Penny Hardaway and Cezary Trybanski from Phoenix for Antonio McDyess, Howard Eisley, Charlie Ward,
Maciej Lampe, the rights to Milos Vujanic, two first-round draft picks and cash.

"Our goal is to win an NBA championship, and our goal is to put
together a team that can do that," Knicks president Isiah Thomas
said after making his first major move in his new job.

"If you're going to win a championship, you need talent, you
need players," Thomas said. "You're not going to beat the best
teams with just one or two players."

The trade is the fourth of Marbury's career. The Brooklyn native
was drafted by Milwaukee and immediately dealt to Minnesota, where
he subsequently forced a trade to New Jersey. The Nets sent him to
Phoenix for Jason Kidd, and he's now headed to the Knicks in the
first major move made by new team president Isiah Thomas.

"I think we got the best deal," Knicks center Dikembe Mutombo
said. "He's among the best point guards in the league, he's an
All-Star player."

The trade represents a major shakeup for both teams. In exchange
for its best player, Phoenix will go under the salary cap next
summer and will have at least $8 million to offer to a free agent
class that includes Kobe Bryant.

Suns owner Jerry Colangelo confirmed said the Suns will save $20 million to $25 million in
salary and luxury tax costs through the 2004-05 season. That will
allow the Suns to rebuild a team that was eliminated in the first
round of the playoffs last season after missing the postseason the
year before.

"This is a big picture kind of move, and a bold move,"
Colangelo said. "We didn't have flexibility under the cap, and we
were hamstrung by some contracts. This allows us to be a player in
free agency if we choose to. This is not a talent-for-talent

Marbury, one of the league's best point guards, is averaging a team-high 20.8 points for the Suns, who are in last place in the Pacific Division. He signed a four-year extension, worth approximately $76 million, earlier this season that kicks in with the 2005-06 season and runs through 2008-09. Counting this season, he has six years on his contract and will make $14.625 million next season, then a yet-to-be-determined figure in the first year of the extension.

Hardaway, a former All-Star, has been coming off the bench for the Suns. He has three years left on a deal that will pay him $13.5 million this season, $14.625 million in 2004-05 and $15.75 million in 2005-06.

In a statement released by the Suns, in which Suns coach Mike D'Antoni expressed his appreciation for Marbury's work ethic, he also said: "Are we probably going to take a little step backwards? Yeah, in the beginning. But with the cap room that we now have and with the draft picks we are going to have, along with the core of young players that will get a lot of playing time, we're excited about it. I think that in the long run this is the way to get to a higher level of play. In the short term a little pain, but in the long term we hope there's a big gain."

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. Eisley is under contract for three more seasons. Vujanic,
the starting point guard on the Yugoslavian team that won the 2002
World Championship, is playing in Europe.

McDyess, who played for the Suns in 1997-98, returned to action
last month after missing more than a year because of knee surgery.
McDyess took over a spot in the Knicks' starting lineup from Kurt Thomas, then lost it -- thereby becoming expendable.

Referring to McDyess and his return from injury, D'Antoni said, "He had 14 points and 11 rebounds (Sunday) night, and I don't see that from a whole lot of our big guys. So is he going to help us? God, I hope so. I'm planning on him helping. Is he the old Antonio McDyess? I don't know that."

Eisley, who recently lost his starting job to Frank Williams, did not play in the Knicks' 95-85 loss to New Jersey on Sunday night.

Ward has been with the Knicks for 10 seasons, the second-longest
current tenure of any player who spent his career with one NBA
team. He is expected to be waived by the Suns later this week.

Isiah Thomas has already turned over about half the Knicks'
roster in the two weeks since he replaced team president Scott

"It's definitely a home run hit by Isiah in terms of getting
this deal done," Knicks coach Don Chaney said.

The Knicks will give Phoenix their first-round pick in the 2004
draft and an additional first-round pick.

"I knew right after we got a new sheriff in town that we were
in for a shakeup. One of the reasons he was brought here was to
shake up the team and get us to the playoffs," Mutombo said.

Marbury will be reunited with Keith Van Horn, his teammate in New Jersey. Last summer, Marbury said the Nets didn't win when he
was there because he was surrounded with untalented players,
lumping Van Horn in with Gheorghe Muresan and Jim McIlvaine.

"No matter how long you play in this league, there's still
things that come up that are surprising, and this is definitely one
of them," Van Horn said. "Personally we never had any problems.
On the court we didn't win, and I think that was the biggest
problem that Stephon and I had."

At 14-21, the Knicks are fifth in a weak Atlantic Division. But
with a starting lineup of Marbury, Allan Houston, Van Horn, Thomas
and Mutombo, they should have enough talent to snap their two-year
streak of missing the playoffs.

"On paper, talentwise, this puts us right up there at the
top," Van Horn said. "But that's just paper."

Marbury and Hardaway were expected to join the Knicks in
Cleveland and play Tuesday night against the Cavaliers, Chaney
said. All the players in the deal must pass physicals before the
trade is official.

Thomas, who already traded Clarence Weatherspoon to Houston for Moochie Norris and John Amaechi (who was waived Monday), indicated he'll continue to pursue trades.

"I still think we need to get a little more athletic and a little
better," Thomas said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.