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The Knicks' off-season had a circuslike atmosphere, what with coach Isiah Thomas spending more time in a courtroom than on the court and point guard Stephon Marbury, having eaten one too many cannoli, declaring his intention to leave his hometown team and play in Italy after his contract expires in two years. The sideshows were unfortunate because they drew attention away from a move that should put New York in the playoffs for the first time since 2003-04: the trade for rugged power forward Zach Randolph.
One of only five players to average at least 20 points and 10 rebounds last season, Randolph was acquired from the Trail Blazers in a draft-day deal for Steve Francis and Channing Frye. Though he comically declared himself in "O.K. shape" in camp, Randolph doesn't play above the rim, so his primary goal will not be conditioning. It will be to avoid making headlines off the court.