It's a crying same that the New York Knicks have been been so bad for so long. Knicks fans are among the most passionate, loyal, and educated basketball fans in the world, and their allegiance has been rewarded by a decade and a half of one unmitigated management disaster after another.
It wasn't always like this, of course. The Knicks were once one of the teams to beat throughout the 1990's. The team boasted lineups that included John Starks, Charles Oakley, and their long time centrepiece Patrick Ewing. All of which were weapons in the arsenal of one of the most iconic and legendary coaches of all time, Pat Riley.
Almost the equivalent of the Oklahoma City Thunder of today, supremely competitive but just not enough to slay the runs of some all-time greats. The team would run into the unstoppable forces of Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajawon and a possessed Reggie Miller hell-bent on destruction.
However, at the turn of the century, the Knicks made the fatal error of constantly swinging for the fences for quick fix solutions instead of building up a young core. This direction has continued on until today. From treating first round draft picks like Halloween candy to tossing out multi-million dollar deals like dollar bills at a gentleman's club to being on the paddle end of almost every trade they've made, I will rank these moves from the minor head-scratchers to the full blown nuclear disasters.
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20 Sign Amar'e Stoudamire to a 5 Year, $100 million Contract
Looking at this particular move in a vacuum, paying Stoudamire that money in 2010 after he helped lead the Phoenix Suns to the Western Conference Finals wasn't a bad move in of itself. The issue with this move was the Knicks' direction and motive behind this move. For over a year prior to the 2010 offseason, the basement dwelling Knicks stopped at nothing to clear their books with the hopes of assembling a super team in the Mecca. Bringing in STAT with the hopes of selling LeBron James illusions of Madison Avenue grandeur ended up leaving them with Stoudamire as their lone big catch of that historic offseason. After a few good seasons in Manhattan, Stoudamire's game quickly fell off a cliff which resulted in him becoming one of the leagues largest albatrosses.
19 Drafting Jordan Hill After Losing Out on Stephen Curry
Not like the Knicks or anyone could predict Steph Curry reaching the mythological heights he is currently eclipsing, but the Knicks were very enamoured with the second generation sniper. The Warriors would scoop up the Davidson product one slot ahead of the Knicks to the ire and dismay of the MSG crowd. The Knicks followed it up by picking Jordan Hill, a low upside, hustle big who they would deal away just after half a season on broadway. The next pick? DeMar DeRozan. Wow.
18 Dumping Patrick Ewing
After 15 Hall of Fame worthy seasons as the centrepiece of some of the most successful teams in franchise history, the Knicks traded Ewing to the Seattle SuperSonics after their relationship went sour. It was a curious move as the team had just come off an appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals with Ewing still a key contributor. The Knicks only pulled in sharpshooter Glen Rice and stopped a legend from being a team lifer.
17 Giving Away Iman Shumpert Just to Dump J.R. Smith
The Knicks, at rock bottom once again at the beginning of 2015, decided to shake up their roster. In a three way deal involving the Cavaliers and Thunder, the Knicks decided to use young swingman Iman Shumpert to dump talented malcontent J.R Smith to the Cleveland Cavaliers. In return, the Knicks received three non-guaranteed contracts, creating cap room for no real rhyme or reason. Already in full blown tank mode, the team could have just either dumped Smith off for an equally bad deal or waived him. This would have allowed the Knicks to hold onto Shumpert or perhaps cut the middle man in Cleveland and dealt him directly to the Thunder for the 2015 first rounder that the Cavs acquired. Smith ended up opting out after all and the Knicks used the cap on largely nothing of consequence.
16 Trading Tyson Chandler for Jose Calderon
The opening shot in the Phil Jackson regime as the team's Zen Master saviour was an underwhelming one. The Knicks trading Tyson Chandler back to the Dallas Mavericks stayed with the trend of making moves "just cause." While Chandler certainly wasn't a long term fit, he was a recent Defensive Player of the Year winner and on a cap friendly expiring contract. Chandler could most certainly have been kept into the season and moved for young assets. Instead, the Knicks decided to take on two extra years of Jose Calderon, a certified back-up point guard on the wrong side of 30.
15 Attempting to Mesh Zach Randolph and Eddy Curry
At the 2007 draft, the Knicks swung a deal with the Portland Trail Blazers, sending Channing Frye and Steve Francis and receiving talented but troubled young big man Zach Randolph. Looking at this move from a pure value standpoint, the Knicks won this move considering the course Randolph has taken today. However, the plan behind the move was nothing short of baffling. Pairing two lumbering slower big man with limited range and and trouble defending turned out to be a disaster, as expected. Randolph was jettisoned to the Clippers and later to the Grizzlies where he morphed into an All Star.
14 Allowing Jeremy Lin to Walk
In 2011, from the shadows of the D-League emerged an international icon, Taiwanese American Jeremy Lin. Lin captured the imagination of a nation with his out of nowhere spectacular play as well as reigniting an entire culture's love for NBA basketball. Lin was key in the Knicks' playoff runs in both the 2011 and 2012 seasons. Owner James Dolan, however, would ensure that the relationship with the Harvard graduate would go sour. Dolan felt insulted that Lin would sign an offer sheet with Houston, even though the team publicly announced it wouldn't pay Lin until hearing what another team would offer, thus driving up his price. The Knicks would opt to reacquire Raymond Felton instead.
13 Signing Jerome James
Long before the Knicks honed in on bringing in the King, they paid another James an egregious sum of money to be a saviour. After a largely anonymous career, James had the series of his life for the Seattle SuperSonics, averaging over 17 points and 9 boards to knock the Sacramento Kings out in the first round. This seven game sample size was more than enough for the Knicks to anoint him their centre of the future, doling out $30 million over five years to do so. As expected, James rode the bench for four seasons before his contract was dealt to the Bulls.
12 Signing Jared Jeffries
The Knicks poached Jeffries from the Wizards, who decided not to match their five year, $25 million deal. Much like teammate Jerome James, he had a minimal impact on the floor, never cracking anything above six points per game over the course of his time in New York. The highlight of his tenure happened later that year, when he was sucker punched in a brawl at MSG by future Knick Carmelo Anthony.
11 Not Using the Allan Houston Provision... on Allan Houston
The provision was a one time luxury tax amnesty clause the NBA allowed after the new CBA in 2005. It was named after Houston because it was tailor made to forgive teams of large contracts for players unable to contribute. Houston who was paid almost $20 million while on the IR was surprisingly not a causality of his own rule. Jerome Williams was the one who was given the walking papers instead.
10 Giving Carmelo Anthony a No-trade Clause
Funny enough, the Knicks would be in a pretty decent position without this deadly little condition. With franchise cornerstone and "unicorn" Kristaps Porzingis in for the long haul, the Knicks could put Melo on the block and likely receive a pretty decent haul for the vet. For instance, the Knicks could dangle Melo to the rising Celtics for a package of a few of their Cayman Island worthy stash of future draft picks and really start to build a real core around the PorzinGod. Alas, Anthony is content with perpetual mediocrity.
9 Trading Anthony Mason for Larry Johnson
After winning Sixth Man of the Year in 1995, the Knicks decided to send the late Mason to the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for Grandmama, Larry Johnson. Johnson who was once one of the game's brightest stars, ended up being a very average player due to chronic back injuries. Mason ended up as a revelation for both the Hornets and later the Heat, even making it to an All Star game while in Miami.
8 Signing 38 Year Old Marcus Camby
In trying to raise the collective age of the 2012-2013 Knicks to historic levels of geriatrics, the Knicks reunited with Marcus Camby, giving him a three year, $13 million deal, stretching him into his 40s. Camby was barely a factor, but he would be an important component of an important deal that you will read about later on in this list.
In the end, Camby would play 24 games with the Knicks, averaging a meager 1.8 points per game.
7 Dumping More Young Assets in Pursuit of the 2010 Dream
Seeing Tracy McGrady in a Knicks jersey was a total trip, but the deal that sent the former scoring champ from Houston to New York had nothing to do with T-Mac's play. The Knicks sent the aforementioned Jared Jeffries' long term contract, along with Jordan Hill, the rights to a pick swap in 2011, and a 2012 1st rounder to the Rockets. Luckily for the Knicks, Hill never really amounted to a whole lot and the Rockets chose the now retired Royce White with the pick, but that doesn't mean it was a good trade either.
6 Trading Penny Hardaway and Trevor Ariza for Steve Francis
Long before the famed "Splash Brothers," there were the "Cash Brothers" of Steve Francis and Stephon Marbury, the highest paid backcourt in the association. In 2006, the Knicks sent the large expiring of their former superstar Hardaway, along with a young rock solid role player in Trevor Ariza, for Stevie Franchise, who still had three years and $50 million remaining on his deal. He'd be hugely ineffective in New York, only lasting a year and a half there.
5 Trading a Future Lottery Pick for Andrea Bargnani
After the Brooklyn Nets basically pooled their lifesavings on a craps table in Atlantic City by getting Garnett and Pierce from the Celtics, the Knicks saw their future Hall of Famers and raised them a Bargnani. The Knicks sent the less favourable of their 2016 first round draft choice that was tied up in a swap with the Denver Nuggets to the Raptors in exchange for "Il Mago." Bargnani was either injured or making Knicks fans cringe in his two seasons in the Big Apple.
4 Selling the Farm to Get Melo
Carmelo Anthony was dead set on heading to the Big Apple as his contract with the Nuggets was running out, as rumours were rampant that the Syracuse product wanted to the marquee player for the New York Knicks and his adopted hometown. Rather than waiting for the 2011 offseason to pry him away for free, the Knicks jumped the gun at the deadline, sending a kings ransom to the Mile High City. The Knicks would surrender Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Timofey Mozgov, Anthony Randolph and what would become a top 10 pick in 2014 and the rights to swap in 2016. The bank was emptied, the roster was gutted and the team is still reeling from this move five years ago.
3 Trading for Antonio McDyess
At the Draft in 2002, the Knicks decided to send three solid players for the often injured and over the hill Antonio McDyess. Of course, that swap alone wasn't enough as the Knicks would throw in the minor sweetener that was the #7 pick in the draft, who became longtime Nugget, Nene. McDyess would only play 18 games for the Knicks while Camby and Nene were longtime fixtures in a number of successful Nuggets teams.
2 Trading for Stephon Marbury
In 2003, the Knicks were dead-set on getting a superstar player to build around. They were convinced they had him in "hometown hero" Stephon Marbury. The deal would send Antonio McDyess and other pieces along with two first round draft choice to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for "Starbury" and the bloated contract of Penny Hardaway. Marbury would clash with every coach he player for until he was finally paid to sit at home to finish out his tenure. If his bloated contract wasn't enough, one of the picks sent to Phoenix was the Knicks unprotected 2010 1st rounder, which found its way to Utah where they would choose Gordon Hayward.
1 Trading for Eddy Curry
The biggest and most costly blunder in the team's history came when Isiah Thomas decided Eddy Curry would be the team's franchise center, sending their 2006 1st rounder and a right to swap in 2007 to the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls were eager to dump the young big man after he was diagnosed with a serious possibly life-threatening heart condition in 2005. While Curry would have his career year in 2006/07, posting 19.5 points and 7 boards per game, it was all downhill from there as he would come to camp totally out of game shape the next season and rarely touched the court from that point on.
As if having an eight figure player warm the bench wasn't bad enough, the price paid to bring him to New York would prove to be catastrophic. The Knicks would bottom out in 2006 and 2007 surrendering the #2 pick (LaMarcus Aldridge) and the #4 pick (Joakim Noah) respectively. The Bulls would swing Aldridge to Portland for Tyrus Thomas, so some karmic mercy would prevail.
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