Friday, August 6, 2004
Isiah pleased with versatility of new acquisitions
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Isiah Thomas likes the versatility Jamal
Crawford and Jerome Williams will bring to the New York Knicks.
Crawford can play both guard positions, and Williams is a rugged
rebounder with playoff experience. Both were welcomed Friday to the
Knicks' training facility, one day after a six-player deal with the
"I definitely think [Crawford] is All-Star caliber," the
Knicks general manager said. "He and Steph [Marbury] and Allen
[Houston], those three in the backcourt, if they're all healthy,
they're just about as good as you can get."
Crawford led Chicago in scoring last season with 17.3 points per
game. Williams averaged 6.2 points and 7.0 rebounds for the Toronto
Raptors and Bulls. Both were traded for former Illinois standout
Frank Williams, center Dikembe Mutombo, forward Othella Harrington
and center Cezary Trybanski.
Coach Lenny Wilkens is pleased to acquire one of the league's
top young guards. He said he has no problem using Crawford, Marbury
and Houston at the same time in a small lineup.
"I'd like us to play a little more up-tempo, but I'd like us to
be smart enough that we know how to execute," Wilkens said. "I've
seen Jamal play since he was in high school, and I've had the
pleasure to work with Jerome [in Toronto]. I'll tell you this, we
will be exciting. We will be aggressive."
Crawford averaged 11.2 points and almost four assists in his
first four seasons in the NBA. He signed a seven-year deal worth
about $56 million with the Bulls on Thursday and was then traded to
the Knicks in a long-awaited deal.
"They have a good, young core of guys who are professionals,"
Crawford said of the Knicks. "I've been watching them for a while.
I've been a fan from afar, and I'm just happy to be a part of it.
There's a Hall-of-Fame coach here and president. I can pick their
brains at any time."
By making the trade, Chicago saves about $18 million under the
salary cap. Williams still has $25 million and four years left on
his current deal. The contracts of all of the New York players
expire after this year.
Crawford gives the Knicks some backup for Houston, who missed
much of last season and the playoffs with knee and leg injuries.
The Knicks lost in the first round of the playoffs to the New
Williams, an eight-year NBA veteran, looks forward to working
with Wilkens again.
"I had my best years under Coach Lenny," Williams said. "I
know the players I'm playing with. I know the coach, I know the
Known as the "Junkyard Dog," Williams says he's ready for New
"The Dog is built for New York," he said. "Boos. Cheers. The