Embarking on their 70th season in the NBA, the New York Knickerbockers are one of the league’s most renowned franchises. Despite only having two NBA titles to their name (1969-1970 and 1972-1973), the allure and mystique of the Knicks rivals that of much more successful franchises, such as the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Knicks haven’t been title threats since the 1990s, and if it weren’t for a certain guy “from North Carolina, at guard, 6’6”, Michael Jordan” (in Bulls’ PA announcer Ray Clay’s voice), the Knicks may have another banner, or more, to accompany their 1969-1970 and 1972-1973 ones.
While the Knicks continuously came up short in the nineties, they were certainly a joy to watch. The same cannot be said for the majority of teams the blue and orange have rolled out since the millennium. Since 2000, the Knicks have only made five playoff appearances and have only once made the conference semifinals. Suffice to say, the Knicks haven’t had the best teams or players during this tenure.
Here, we take a look at the eight best and seven worst New York Knicks since 2000.
15. BEST: Zach Randolph
The Knicks were swinging for the fences for 2010 free agency as names such as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, A’mare Stoudemire and Joe Johnson were free agents. As a result, the Knicks had to diminish their payroll. One of those casualties was Zach Randolph. Randolph played for the Knicks in the 2007-2008 season and just played in eleven games in the 2008-2009 season before being traded cross country to the Los Angeles Clippers. The Knicks were woeful; Eddie Winslow’s doppleganger was not. Randolph averaged 17.6 PPG and 10.3 RPG in his only full season with the Knicks. In his small sample size in his second season in the five boroughs, Randolph averaged 20.5 PPG and 12.5 RPG. The Knicks struck out mightily in 2010 free agency as the A’Mare Stoudemire experiment proved to be a colossal failure. Hindsight is twenty twenty and if the Knicks could have this one back they would surely have held on to the double double machine, Z-Bo.
14. WORST: Amar’e Stoudemire
Stoudemire’s former team, the Phoenix Suns were reluctant to pay him as a result of his injury woes pertaining to his knees. The Suns wouldn’t present Stoudemire with a long term deal without insurance; the Knicks were willing to give Stoudemire a long term deal without insurance. Hence, Stoudemire inked a five-year $100 million dollar deal with the Knicks. Stoudemire had a remarkable first season with the Knicks as he averaged 25.3 PPG, 8.2 RPG and 1.9 BPG. The Knicks looked like they had found themselves a franchise player. In his second season in New York, A’mare missed a concerning nineteen games. In his next two seasons, Stoudemire missed 68 out of a possible 162 games. Stoudemire’s last season didn’t even end in him playing out his contract; it ended in him being bought out. The end of Stoudemire’s run is best remembered for him being the NBA’s highest paid bench player and for losing a battle with a fire extinguisher in Miami.
13. BEST: Tyson Chandler
When the Knicks had signed Tyson Chandler in December of 2011 many pundits had declared that the Knicks had finally gotten their own big three as Chandler would pair with Carmelo Anthony and A’mare Stoudemire. With Melo and Stat expected to carry the scoring load, Chandler was expected to be the team’s defensive anchor. In his first season, Chandler showed he was up to the task as he averaged 11.3 PPG, 9.9 RPG and 1.4 BPG. Chandler won the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award in his inaugural year and by doing so became the first Knick to do so in the team’s sixty-six year history (at the time). Chandler had a strong second season as he put up double-double averages of 10.4 PPG and 10.7 PPG to go along with a swatted shot per game. In his third and final season with the Knicks, Chandler was plagued by the injury bug and only played in 55 of 82 games. Chandler was traded to his former employer, the Dallas Mavericks, in the 2014 offseason.
12. WORST: Renaldo Balkman
Isiah Thomas’ tenure with the Knicks is marred with immense flack and rightfully so. However, one thing that Isiah did particularly well was draft well. In 2004, Thomas selected Trevor Ariza forty-third overall; in 2005 Thomas selected David Lee thirtieth overall; in 2007 Thomas selected Wilson Chandler twenty-third overall. But, in 2006 Thomas reached for Renaldo Balkman with the twentieth pick. Balkman was expected to go in the late first round at best and was much more likely to be a early and possibly even mid second rounder. To make matters worse, one pick after Rajon Rondo was selected; five picks later Kyle Lowry was selected. Balkman lasted two seasons in New York averaging 4.2 PPG, 3.8 RPG and .6 APG. Balkman’s such a colossal failure that his basketball career is most renown for him choking his own teammate in the PBA (Philippine Basketball Association) which led to his ban from the league.
11. BEST: Kristaps Porzingis
In the 2015 NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Lakers surprised many when they select D’Angelo Russell with the second overall pick. The Philadelphia 76ers held the third pick and already had two promising bigs in former Kansas Jayhawk Joel Embiid and former Kentucky Wildcat Nerlens Noel. The Knicks fanbase hoped that big man Jahlil Okafor would fall to number four so the Knicks could select him. Unfortunately for the Knicks, the 76ers selected Okafor at three. Fortunately for the Knicks, Porzingis or PorzinGod or the unicorn (as Kevin Durant refers to him) falling to number four has proven to be quite the blessing in disguise for the franchise once referred to as the “Knickstape” by notorious underachievers in the Big Apple, Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith. Porzingis finished second in rookie voting in the 2015-2016 season behind Karl-Anthony Towns as he averaged 14.6 PPG, 7.9 RPG and 1.9 BPG. The Latvian big man has been even more impressive as a sophomore as he is currently averaging 20.0 PPG to go along with 7.7 RPG and 1.9 BPG. Porzingis figures to be a key cog for the Knickerbockers for years to come.