Shortly after he was hired, New York Knicks president Isiah Thomas said he would take an aggressive approach in his new duties.
Apparently he was serious.
It’s uncertain if Marbury will be with the Knicks for Tuesday’s game. Even if Marbury doesn’t play, however, New York takes the court knowing it will soon have the services of one of the most dynamic point guards in the league.
The Knicks acquired Marbury, Penny Hardaway and Cezary Trybanski from the Phoenix Suns for Antonio McDyess, Howard Eisley, Charlie Ward, Maciej Lampe, the rights to Milos Vujanic, two first-round draft picks and cash.
“I knew right after we got a new sheriff in town that we were in for a shakeup,” Knicks center Dikembe Mutombo said of Thomas. “One of the reasons he was brought here was to shake up the team and get us to the playoffs.”
Marbury, who starred at Brooklyn’s Lincoln High School, averaged 20.8 points for the Suns. Hardaway, a former All-Star, averaged 8.7 points off the bench.
New York may have to worry about team chemistry, however. Marbury will be reunited with Keith Van Horn, his teammate with the New Jersey Nets. Last summer, Marbury said the Nets didn’t win when he was there because he was surrounded with untalented players, lumping Van Horn 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.”
New York is coming off its second straight loss, 95-85 to New Jersey on Sunday. Van Horn led the Knicks with 21 points and 11 rebounds.
Mutombo had 10 blocks, the most in an NBA game this season. He was two short of his career high, and it was the 13th time he has blocked at least 10. Mutombo needs 12 more blocks to tie David Robinson for fourth place on the NBA career list.
Heralded Cleveland rookie LeBron James, the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, managed just 14 points in Friday’s 97-82 loss at New Jersey. James’ point total was his lowest since scoring eight against Atlanta on Dec. 6. He had scored at least 17 points in his previous 12 games, and had averaged 27.3 since Dec. 11.
“I wasn’t as aggressive as I have been in the last 12 games,” said James, who also had nine assists and four rebounds. “It was very cold out there, but that’s no excuse. I should have been more aggressive and I should have attacked more.”
Cleveland forward Carlos Boozer had another strong game, recording his sixth straight double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds. Boozer is shooting 52 percent and averaging 10.8 rebounds to rank among the NBA’s leaders in those categories.
Cavaliers coach Paul Silas said he expects center DeSagana Diop to come off the injured list this week. The 7-footer has been out since Nov. 29 with a right knee injury.
STANDINGS (through Jan. 4): Knicks - 5th place, 6 GB, Atlantic Division. Cavaliers - 6th place (tied), 14 GB, Central Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Knicks - Houston, 20.2 ppg; Thomas, 9 rpg; Ward, 4.9 apg. Cavaliers - James, 20 ppg and 6.1 apg; Boozer, 10.9 rpg.
SEASON SERIES: Cavaliers, 1-0.
LAST MEETING: Nov. 10; Cavaliers, 94-80. At Cleveland, James had 17 points, five rebounds and four assists to lead the Cavaliers.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Knicks - 6-12 on the road; Cavaliers - 8-8 at home.