Knicks fans will be wondering why Mike Bibby isn't in this deal, and the answer is this: If and when the Kings trade Bibby, they'll want a heck of a lot more long-term value than an expiring contract. This deal makes sense for Sacramento because it gets them out from under the $17.3 million they owe Thomas for '08-09 and '09-10 and the $12.8 million they owe Abdur-Rahim over those same two seasons. The Knicks like it because they get Artest without having to surrender David Lee.
Here's how the salary swap breaks down over the life of the contracts:
Sacramento even + $9M - $12.1 M
In short, the deal would require the Kings to suck up an extra $9 million in salary next year with the benefits being $12.1 million of savings in 2009-10 and a (very?) nice prospect in Renaldo Balkman. Marbury (whether bought out or not) would come off the same summer as Mike Bibby, giving Sacramento upwards of $20 million in cap room (depending on additional salaries) for a free agent market which could hold some intriguing names, as Sheridan points out.
And Sacramento does have enough room under the luxury tax going into next year to absorb the $9 million without incurring excess costs. They'd probably be restricted in using the midlevel next year, and might have to forgo a second round pick or other seemingly annual free agent rookies. It'd be tight, but if the Maloofs thought the deal helped the franchise, they wouldn't mind flirting with the tax again. And it'd just be flirtation -- this isn't like Cleveland where a deal would assuredly kick the team into Taxland (population: Knicks, Mavericks.)
Is this sort of firesale possible? Yes. Is it plausible? No... I don't think Petrie can stomach an untradeable $21 million has-been (see: Webber, Chris). Making this trade -- never mind the future flexibility or free agency aspirations -- forfeits the next two seasons. No franchise does that.