On the day Donnie Walsh was finally able to complete his first major player transaction as president of the New York Knicks, one trade wasn't enough.
After striking a deal earlier Friday to ship guard Jamal Crawford to Golden State for forward Al Harrington, Walsh reached an agreement with the Los Angeles Clippers that will shed Zach Randolph's long contract from the Knicks' payroll.
All three of the players coming to the Knicks -- Harrington, Thomas and Mobley -- have contracts which expire before the highly anticipated free-agent summer of 2010, when the likes of LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade are expected to be on the open market.
"I think that opening up cap space down the road for us is a big plus on our side and I hope our fans understand that that can give us an opportunity to make the team better according to the plan that I've outlined," Walsh said on a conference call. "So I'm trying to be true to what I said from day one, and that's what I'm doing."
The Knicks have had serious interest in Harrington since the 28-year-old went public with a trade demand just before the start of the season, after privately urging Golden State to move him for months. They see the versatile and mobile Harrington as an ideal combo forward under new coach Mike D'Antoni, while Walsh -- who drafted Harrington in 1998 and reacquired him in a deal with Atlanta in the summer of 2006 -- might be Harrington's biggest fan in the league.
"Al is a true NBA veteran who possesses multi-positional skills," D'Antoni said in a statement. "He will fit perfectly into our system and will help us win some games immediately."
Yet it's clear that future financial flexibility, more than Harrington's potential on-court impact, is foremost in Walsh's thoughts, given how quickly he has parted with two of the most effective contributors in New York's surprising 6-5 start.
"I think this is an unfortunate time to make this kind of trade because you're introducing three new players into the system and in addition to that you're taking out the two guys who are our most successful players in the beginning of the season in Zach and in Jamal," Walsh said. "So this will be a difficult time for our coach, but I think we we're all on the same page as far as trying to get this done."
The Warriors have pegged Crawford as a versatile guard who, although not a pure floor leader, can function well in coach Don Nelson's system while Monta Ellis recovers from ankle surgery and also in tandem with Ellis once he returns.
"[Randolph's] good for us now and in the future," said Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy, whose team had been lacking an inside presence since Elton Brand left in July to sign with the Philadelphia 76ers. "It was something we felt like we had to do.
"Other than Chris Kaman right now, we probably don't have a guy who should be dominant in the low post. This gives us two big guys that are pretty proficient in the low post. Marcus Camby is a great complement to both of those guys."
Harrington's contract pays him $9.2 million this season and $10 million next season if Harrington exercises his option. Either way, Harrington's deal would be off New York's payroll by the summer of 2010, which meshed with New York's intent to slice as much payroll as possible, no matter how it impacted the current team.
Mobley and Thomas each have this season and next season to go on their contracts, worth a total of $18.4 million and $12.5 million, respectively.
Crawford is scoring 19.6 points a game this season after averaging a career-best 20.6 points per game and 5.0 assists last season. Assuming Crawford declines a player option to become a free agent in July 2009, his deal would run through the 2010-11 season, paying $8.6 million this season, $9.4 million in 2009-10 and $10 million in 2010-11.
Harrington has played only five games this season, averaging 12.4 points and 5.6 rebounds before missing Golden State's past six games with a back injury. Nelson told ESPN.com on the first weekend of the season that the Warriors would "try to accommodate" Harrington, but not when the Knicks were only willing to part with center Eddy Curry as opposed to Crawford.
Randolph is averaging 20.6 points and 12.5 rebounds, having adapted to D'Antoni's up-tempo system better than many observers anticipated. Like Crawford, Randolph has a contract with two more seasons to run after this one and which will pay him $17.3 million in 2010-11.
"Cuttino and Tim are two veteran players that will help us work towards our joint goal of remaining competitive this season while also improving our long-term cap flexibility," said Walsh. "Zach is an extremely talented player who produces numbers that few players can and we thank him, and Mardy, for their efforts as Knickerbockers."
Mobley has averaged 16 points and 3.9 rebounds in 11 NBA seasons with Houston, Orlando, Sacramento and the Clippers. He is averaging 13.7 points and 2.6 rebounds this season.
Thomas has averaged 11.8 points and 4.2 rebounds in 12 NBA seasons with Philadelphia, Milwaukee, New York, Chicago, Phoenix and the Clippers. In 10 games this season, Thomas is averaging 9.5 points and 4.6 rebounds.
"Tim enjoyed a lot of success in our system a few years ago in Phoenix when he was a key part of a run to the Western Conference finals," D'Antoni said. "I am also very familiar with Cuttino and his knowledge of the game, and his ability to spread the floor and defend."
ESPN.com senior writer Marc Stein, ESPN The Magazine senior writer Ric Bucher and The Associated Press contributed to this report.