The Knicks sent Ewing to the SuperSonics and received Glen Rice from the Lakers and Luc Longley from the Suns. Among the other major players moving were Horace Grant from Seattle to Los Angeles and Chris Dudley from New York to Phoenix.
Various trades involving Ewing and Rice have been in the works for the past month, including one involving Detroit that fell apart at the last moment in mid-August.
The Knicks, Lakers and Sonics then discussed a three-team deal, but the Knicks wouldn't pull the trigger because they felt they weren't getting enough in return.
Once the Suns entered the picture, the talks heated up again.
Rice, a free agent, received a one-year offer from the Chicago Bulls this week. But he wavered on signing it as his agent, David Falk, tried to broker another deal, and the Bulls finally pulled the offer off the table Wednesday.
Rice ended up with the Knicks as part of a sign-and-trade transaction in which he got a multiyear contract from the Lakers before being shipped immediately to New York.
Several other players were included in the trade to make it work under league salary cap guidelines. The Knicks got Vernon Maxwell, Vladimir Stepania and Lazaro Borrell from Seattle and Travis Knight from Los Angeles.
New York also got first-round draft picks in 2001 from the Lakers and Sonics, and two second-round picks in 2001 from Seattle.
The Lakers also get Greg Foster, Chuck Person and Emanuel Davis from Seattle. Phoenix gets the Knicks' No. 1 pick in 2001.
"Getting Patrick accomplishes a big offseason goal of ours," said Sonics general manager Wally Walker, adding that 48 trade scenarios were discussed between the Sonics, Knicks and Lakers. "Until we got on the conference call with the league this afternoon, I had no confidence that the deal would get done."
The trade brings a close to Ewing's career in New York, where he arrived as the No. 1 pick in the 1985 draft. He was expected to be the type of franchise player who could bring the Knicks their first championship since 1973, but it never happened.
The NBA champion Lakers, who were on the verge of losing Rice on the free-agent market and getting nothing in return, come out looking like the big winners. Grant fills their void at power forward, while Rick Fox will presumably replace Rice in the starting lineup
The Knicks received six players and four draft picks for a 38-year-old center.