WASHINGTON - Anthony Randolph's value to the Knicks can't be measured in points and rebounds. Instead, he could be the guy who gets them Carmelo Anthony.
The Knicks have fielded calls from several Western Conference clubs regarding a deal for Randolph, according to a team source. The most compelling conversations have been with the Houston Rockets, who in one scenario would trade the Knicks the first-round pick they obtained in last year's Tracy McGrady deal.
Knicks president Donnie Walsh has admitted publicly that he regrets trading that pick and has been trying for two months to acquire a 2011 first-rounder. The pick is critical if the Knicks want to acquire Anthony, who is likely to be traded by the February deadline.
Randolph, who came to the Knicks in the David Lee sign-and-trade with Golden State and is out of Mike D'Antoni's rotation for now, acknowledged Friday that he's aware of "a couple of teams" contacting the Knicks concerning his availability.
The Knicks were hopeful that Randolph would either start at center or be the first big man off the bench. Instead, Randolph finds himself below Ronny Turiaf, Shawne Williams and rookie Timofey Mozgov on the depth chart.
"I believe in myself," Randolph said. "I've got faith in what I can do. Coaches dictate the minutes, so it's nothing I can control. Only thing I can control is how hard I work."
The general feeling is that Anthony's preferred destination is New York, and the Knicks could conceivably sign him to a free agent contract over the summer. However, if Anthony is traded in season, there is a chance that he could sign an extension with the team that acquires him.
The Knicks could feature a package that includes Danilo Gallinari, Eddy Curry (and his expiring contract) and a first-round pick. Another player would also have to be part of the deal, and the Nuggets could ask for rookie Landry Fields, whom the Knicks would prefer to keep.
Of course, one theory is that with the Knicks finally winning, Walsh may be reluctant to mess with a good thing.
"I think that's Donnie decision," D'Antoni said regarding possible trades. "He's more removed from the situation. Coaches don't have a good perspective on when you need to do it and when you don't need to do it."