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.
10. WORST: Andrea Bargnani
The Italian big man, Andrea Bargnani was on the verge of being released by the Toronto Raptors yet the Knicks inexplicably offered up Steve Novak, Quentin Richardson and their 2016 first round pick for the 2006 number one draft pick. Parting with fan favorite, “Novakaine” was understandable. Parting with Q-Rich was completely understandable. Parting with their 2016 first rounder was regrettable. Bargnani’s most memorable moment as a Knick was similar to that of Mark Sanchez’s most memorable moment (butt fumble) as a New York Jet as both are best remembered for a gaffe. Bargnani in a failed dunk attempt in a January 2014 matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers ended up tearing a ligament in his left elbow which sidelined him for the remainder of the season. Bargnani spent two seasons sporting New York across his chest and never proved to be the reliable second scoring option the Knicks thought he’d be when they acquired him. Not to mention, his defensive woes from Toronto followed him to New York as well.
9. BEST: Danilo Gallinari
The sixth pick of the 2008 NBA Draft was selected right after two former UCLA Bruins you may have heard of, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love. Gallinari’s rookie season left much to be desired as back problems plagued him throughout the year which led to him only playing in twenty-eight games. Gallo (which is Italian for rooster) was in danger of getting labeled with the oh so familiar fragile European moniker, but the former Olimpia Milano product flipped the script in his sophomore season. The then nineteen-year old Gallinari started 74 of 81 games in which he played as he averaged 15.1 PPG on 42% shooting from the field to go along with 4.9 RPG. In his third season in the City that Never Sleeps, Gallinari picked up right where he left off as he touted averages of 15.9 PPG and 4.8 RPG before he was traded midseason in the deal that brought Carmelo Anthony home to the Knicks. Gallo (along with Wilson Chandler) served as the headliners in the trade that the Knicks were sending over to the Nuggets. Injuries have continued to deter Gallinari but he had his best year statistically in 2016 as he averaged a career high 19.5 PPG and 5.3 RPG.
8. WORST: Stephon Marbury
When the Knickerbockers traded for Stephon Marbury in 2004, many New Yorkers rejoiced as they were not only acquiring a two-time NBA all-star but also a hometown kid in Marbury. He proved to be quite the prima donna as he not only feuded with one coach, not two coaches but three coaches. First, Marbury struggled to connect with Larry Brown who was no stranger to dealing with a difficult superstar (Allen Iverson). Brown only lasted in the 212 for one season. Next up was legendary Point Guard and dismal GM, Isiah Thomas. There are unconfirmed rumors that Marbury and Thomas got physical in a flight due to Thomas saying he was going to bench Marbury. Last but not least was the mascot on the Pringles can, Mike D’Antoni. After Marbury had lost a training camp battle to Chris Duhon for starting Point Guard duties, Marbury refused to play as he didn’t believe he was a bench player. Marbury was bought out in February of the 2008-2009 season.
7. BEST: Wilson Chandler
Along with Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler headlined the blockbuster trade that brought Carmelo Anthony to Gotham City. The Knicks selected Chandler twenty-third overall in the 2007 NBA Draft. The former DePaul Blue Demon spent 3 1/2 seasons with the Knicks and showed gradual improvement each and every year. Before being shipped out, Chandler was averaging 16.4 PPG, 5.9 RPG and 1.4 BPG. Up until the 2016-2017 campaign, Chandler’s PPG average in the 2010-2011 season accounted for the highest of his career; his 1.4 BPG average in the 2010-2011 season still remains his highest. The Benton Harbor, Michigan born Chandler proved to be one of the Knicks few bright spots during his 3 1/2 seasons with the Knicks from 2007-2011.Chandler currently still remains with the Nuggets and is having a career as he is touting 18.0 PPG to go along with 7.0 RPG.
6. WORST: Antonio McDyess
Coming off a 2001-2002 in which his season concluded prematurely as a result of a patellar tendon rupture, Antonio McDyess was traded to the New York Knicks in the off-season. In order to obtain McDyess the Knicks traded away Marcus Camby, Mark Jackson and their first round selection in the 2002 draft; the Nuggets selected Nene Hilario at number seven with that pick. McDyess never suited up in the 2002-2003 season for the Knicks as a preseason injury to his knee rendered him unable to play. McDyess suited up for the Knicks for the 2003-2004 season but only played in eighteen games. In the eighteen games, McDyess averaged 8.4 PPG and 6.6 RPG. McDyess was traded to Phoenix early in the season in a trade that brought Lincoln High School’s very own Stephon Marbury back home to New York. McDyess was expected to be a formidable force in the paint for the Knicks; instead, his knee did like his hometown (Quitman, Mississippi) and “quit on the Knicks, man”.
5. BEST: David Lee
The last first rounder to be drafted in 2005, David Lee was hounded by boos when then Commissioner David Stern had announced that the New York Knicks had selected the former Florida Gator. In fairness, the Knicks fanbase almost always boos their selection. Lee played for the Knicks from 2005-2010 and was a part of some absolutely abysmal Knicks teams. Lee never won more than 33 games in a season while playing for the franchise that calls 4 Penn Plaza home. Lee was never the most polished player on the defensive side of the ball but he proved to be a double-double machine as he averaged a double-double in three of his five seasons. In his final season with Spike Lee’s favorite team, Lee put up 20.2 PPG and 11.7 APG. Despite this, the Knicks decided to let Lee walk in free agency in favor of Amar’e Stoudemire. In return, the Knicks received one solid year from “STAT” and four injury plagued ones. Lee, on the other hand, won a championship with the Golden State Warriors. Karma.
4. WORST: Eddy Curry
At the ripe age of twenty-two doctors had declared that Hoover, Illinois native Eddy Curry had an irregular heartbeat. Six months later, the Knicks traded for Curry. While Curry initially proved to be a formidable presence in the paint, Curry’s weight problems forever plagued him not only as they had in the Windy City but in the Concrete Jungle of New York City as well. Curry reported to training camp so out of shape for the 2008-2009 season that he didn’t play in his first game until January of 09. From 08-10 Curry played in a minuscule 10 of a possible 164 games. The Knicks who traded away two first rounders in acquiring Curry lost out on two future NBA All-Stars. The Bulls ended up receiving the Knicks first round selections in 2006 and 2007. In 2006 they obtained the selection and selected LaMarcus Aldridge, who unfortunately for Bulls fans was flipped for at the time, promising LSU freshman Tyrus Thomas. In 2007, they received the ninth pick where they drafted now Knick and a product of NYC’s Lower Eastside, Joakim Noah. Curry, who was raised just outside of Chicago helped Bulls fans in more ways then one.
3. BEST: Jamal Crawford
The three-time sixth man of the year (2010, 2014 and 2016), Jamal Crawford spent the latter half of his twenties playing in just a hair over four years for the Empire State’s franchise. The Knicks may have been unwatchable during Crawford’s tenure; but, the man known as J Crossover was a sight for sore eyes for Knicks fans. Discounting the eleven games in the 2008-2009 season Crawford played for the Knicks, Crawford averaged 17.1 PPG in four seasons for the Knicks. Crawford had a knack for getting hot and that was never more evident then in a game against the visiting Miami Heat in January of 2007. Crawford torched D-Wade (the primary defender on Crawford) and Pat Riley’s bunch for fifty-two points. Crawford was simply unconscious from the field as he hit sixteen straight without clanking at one point. This remains Crawford’s career high to the day. Before the words “sixth man” became synonymous with Crawford, he displayed his scoring prowess as a starter (for the most part) with the Knicks.
2. WORST: Jerome James
The beneficiary of the 2005 NBA Playoffs, Jerome James played far better in the 05 postseason then he had at any point in his career. In five NBA seasons, James never averaged more than 5.4 PPG or more than 4.2 RPG. In the 2005 playoffs, James averaged 12.5 PPG, 6.8 RPG and 1.8 BPG in eleven games. Eleven games was all it took for then Knicks GM Isiah Thomas to present James with a five-year $30 million dollar deal. Upon inking, James ended up being a colossal failure for Zeke and the Knickerbockers. James reported to training camp noticeably out of shape and his level of play on the NBA hardwood reflected that. In his first season, James averaged 3.0 PPG and 2.0 RPG. To make matters worse, this was James most productive season in the Big Apple. James never played in more than 45 games in a season as a Knick and was out of the NBA outright by 2009. Although you could argue that James officially checked out once the former Indiana Hoosier, Thomas presented him with a ridiculous five-year thirty million dollar deal.
1. BEST: Carmelo Anthony
The former Syracuse Orange swingman, Carmelo Anthony is one of, if not the most polarizing players in the NBA today. Anthony, who is as dynamic a scorer as their is in the NBA has received his fair share of criticism for his playoff shortcomings and being one who is a me first player as opposed to being a team first player. Entering his sixth full season with the Empire State’s first franchise, Anthony’s numbers haven’t suffered since he was traded from the Mile-High City’s Denver Nuggets. Anthony hasn’t averaged less than 21.8 PPG and 6.3 RPG since he ditched his powder blue and yellow jersey for a royal blue and orange one. In addition, Anthony has been named to the NBA All-Star game in each season he has played for the James Dolan owned franchise and won the NBA’s scoring title for the 2012-2013 season. Melo hasn’t been able to lead the Knicks past the second round, but he has played at a high level for the Knicks for six plus seasons and counting.