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Phoenix starts rebuilding process anew after latest trade

The Arizona Republic

The Suns give up Marbury and Hardaway in eight-player deal with the Knicks.


The Arizona Republic

PHOENIX – The Phoenix Suns are starting over.


The team shipped All-Star point guard Stephon Marbury and former All-Star Penny Hardaway to New York in an eight-player trade that brings former Phoenix forward Antonio McDyess back to the team.

The Suns also get point guards Charlie Ward, who is expected to be waived, and Howard Eisley, rookie center Maciej Lampe, the rights to Yugoslavian guard Milos Vujanic, cash and two first-round draft picks.

The 2004 pick is unconditional, so if the Knicks fail to reach the playoffs, it would be a lottery pick. The second pick is a conditional future choice.

“The reasons for the deal are, effectively, as much about economic viability as they are basketball, perhaps more so,” said Suns president and general manager Bryan Colangelo. “When you look at the impact from a financial standpoint, the numbers are staggering.

“When you look at the basketball impact, you can’t argue that we haven’t taken a step back. But when you look at what the prospects for future are, you get excited.”

The big savings could come this summer when the Suns could shed more than $25 million by not re-signing all of the their free agents.

“It creates the financial flexibility that we need to move forward,” Suns chairman Jerry Colangelo said in a statement.

Depending on where the salary cap is calculated for next season, the Suns could go shopping for a major free agent, although probably without a maximum contract in hand to pursue a superstar such as the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant.

The trade comes with the Suns mired in last place in the Western Conference and less than three months since the team signed Marbury to a four-year contract extension.

With the trade, the Suns have essentially given up on the deal that sent Jason Kidd to New Jersey for Marbury.

They made the Kidd-for-Marbury deal believing Kidd would test free agency – which he did last summer – and the club would have to dole out a $100-million contract to keep him at age 31. The Nets did just that.

Now, Marbury is gone, too.

Center Cezary Trybanski was also sent to New York.

The Suns have talked often about keeping the core of Marbury, Shawn Marion and last season’s Rookie of the Year, Amare Stoudemire, together.

But Bryan Colangelo said the team is in a better position to build around Marion and Stoudemire now without the salary cap restraints.

PHOTO CAPTION: The Associated Press

Phoenix’s Penny Hardaway (front) was traded to the Knicks along with teammate Stephon Marbury.

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