Inside Fiz’s Mind As He Considers Lineup Possibilities

I recently reached out to Coach Fizdale requesting a one-on-one interview about the upcoming season – his goals, his rotation, coaching adjustments he planned to make – and he said, “I’ll do you one better! How ’bout you hook my brain up to a psychological supercomputer and read my thoughts while I work!” I thought it was an odd request but, of course, agreed.

What follows is a live transcript – August 19th, 2019 – as he works on his rotation:

*

Alright, baby! This is the year! I got the green light from Pat for true positionlessness, so here we go: ‘Bron at the one, D at the…

[Realizes where he is, sobs for approximately 46 minutes]1

Get it together, Fiz. I mean, bright side – at least you’re not in Memphis. Right? You good? Good. Back to Fizness. New York Knickerbockers. Go New York Go New York Go. We on our way up, and Step One is beating last year’s win total. Shouldn’t be hard with the talent we added. Just gotta find the right combinations. Let’s go. Starting five…

Payton / Barrett / Knox / Randle / Robinson

Duh. Now, rest of the ten-man…wait a second. Uhh, Allan Houston, we have a problem. We’re trying to win games, and I’m pretty sure to do that someone’s gonna have to stick a jump shot. I mean, Julius is the best three-point shooter in this lineup! 2 Nah. Can’t do it. Yeah, Knox looked good in Vegas, but lots of stuff looks good in Vegas; then you sober up and you’re…never mind. Point is, until he does it in a real game, it ain’t real…

And who’s playing defense in front of Mitch here? Payton’s alright, and Julius’s 8-pack might scare some people, but no. No good. Ball-handling and play-making, sure, but no shooting and very little D. Can’t win that way.

mubarakmalik/IG

Payton / Trier / Barrett / Randle / Robinson

Shooting’s up at least. I love Zo. Love him. His near-40% from deep should help us do some things. Four guys who can get into the paint, two-and-a-half that’ll create for others, the best rim-runner in basketball…but…ahhhhhh.

I love Zo but I don’t love him and RJ together, at least not to start. Both need the ball, and so does Elf since he can’t spot up, and Julius is going at his man off the bounce…

Payton / Dotson / Barrett / Randle / Robinson

Dot’s good without it, and he’s probably our best perimeter defender, except wasn’t their some French dude? Is he still on the team? Anyway, this is more balanced. Let’s settle here for now. So who does that…well, might be easier to do it this way: who’s out of the rotation altogether?

Reggie B – street clothes for a while.

Big Taj – I like him, and I’m gonna play him, but spot minutes.

IGGY – I LOVE this kid. And how’s that saying go? Love means never having to spell his last name properly? But where are the minutes coming from? We’ll bring him along slow. Wait for injuries. Turn him loose in 2020.

Wayne – The guard version of Taj – just lead and stay ready and I’ll get him PT when I can.

Knick-a-leena?That’s his name! Frank whatever. Great defender, unselfish, leadership qualities…but he drives blindly into four defenders so…

That leaves these reserves:

Smith / Trier / Knox / Morris / Portis

Okay, shooters in the frontcourt – think of the space that’ll create for DSJ and Zo! And if Kev’s shot is fallin’, that’s four good shooters! And you seen those videos of Denny working on his mechanics? This ain’t bad. Defense still an issue, though. Lots of pressure on Twin to lead this unit, but that’s what the 15 mil is for…

Who passes in this lineup? I’m not even talking, like, a good passer – who’s a willing passer? I mean, yeah, I love reckless aggression as much as the next guy, but you need at least one…

A ha! I got it:

STARTERS: Smith / Dotson / Barrett / Randle / Robinson
RESERVES: Payton / Trier / Knox / Morris / Portis

If he’s finally put the J back in DSJ, then this works. Slight step back on defense, maybe, but Junior did average almost a steal-and-a-half with us last year. What he lacks in actually stopping guys he makes up for in pressure and steals, right? Right?

And that second unit now – a pure facilitator surrounded by shooters! Done. Let’s not overthink it. Let’s not worry about what the media will say about Kev bumped from the starters, or the fact we got $38 million in free agency money coming off the bench…

*This was completed prior to official signings of Marcus Morris and Ignas Brazdeikis and re-structuring of Reggie Bullock*

…this is the most balanced these lineups are gonna get: facilitators and scorers, shooters and drivers, defense and, well, no defense…maybe it changes after watching these guys work out and scrimmage, maybe it changes in training camp, maybe injuries force me to change things, but for now, this is what we’re going with! Boom!

Now the fun sh**: specialty lineups!

BIG AS BIG GETS
Barrett / Knox / Morris / Randle / Robinson

Part of me wanted to play Randle at the two or three to make room for Portis, but that’d be ridiculous. Or would it? #positionless

BIG BUT MORE TRADITIONAL
Barrett / Dotson / Knox / Randle / Robinson

BIG WITH MORE SHOOTING
Barrett / Dotson / Morris / Portis / Robinson

I can’t wait to turn RJ loose at the one. It’ll be Harden-esque. This writer sitting next to me would call my Harden-RJ comparison insanely premature and unreasonable…just don’t get so excited that you say it out loud, Fiz!

SMALL
Payton / Trier / Barrett / Knox / Randle

#positionless

I really wanna see the Knox-Randle frontcourt. I know, revolving door on D, but that offense? Watch out, now. Five athletes, five ball-handlers…I can run my offense through my center!

Maybe I should put in an offense…

ALL SHOOTING, ALL THE TIME
Trier / Ellington / Dotson / Morris / Portis

Or as I like to think of them:

39.4% / 40.3% / 36.8% / 37.5% / 39.3%

In an ideal world, Knox will shoot his way into this, and then, my boy: IGGGGGYYYYYYY!!!! Man, I can’t wait for trade season to make room for Ignatius. Ignacio. Ig – whatever. Bro-zeikis. Love that kid.

NO PASSING…AS IN, WILL TRY TO INBOUND TO HIMSELF
AFTER MADE BASKETS TO GO COAST TO COAST

Trier / Barrett / Knox / Morris / Portis

Hell yeah, this is what I’m talking about. Keep-what-you-kill thoroughbreds, forget about the white noise and go get me buckets. RJ’s got the potential to grow out of this lineup, but my four guys with NBA experience? Averaged a COMBINED 5.9 assists per last year. That stat can’t be right, can…yep. Yep, it’s right. Four men. 5.9 assists. WOW.

#KNICKSTAPE – HIGHLIGHT REEL
Smith / Trier / Barrett / Knox / Robinson

Adding an ACC-record-breaker to the flashes we saw last year? Am I drooling?

EXPERIENCE
Payton / Ellington / Morris / Randle / Gibson

Years of service: 5 – 10 – 8 – 5 – 10

We got a 24-year-old and a 25-year-old in our “Experience” lineup, and media will still find ways to kill us for late-game meltdowns. This city is a beast, man.

Bullock, if healthy, would be in here somewhere, since he’s going into Year Six, but I don’t see him suiting up at all this season if I’m being honest with myself. At least not for us. Weird deal, the way that all went down.

YOUTH
Ntilikina / Barrett / Brazdeikis / Knox / Robinson

How did the French guy get in here? I meant to put Dennis, but…whatever…since I broke the seal…

DEFENSE
Ntilikina / Dotson / Bradzeikis / Morris / Robinson

No one will score. Not us. Not them. No one.

PASS-FIRST
Payton / Ntilikina / Dotson / Randle / Robinson

Gimme a second, just trying…okay, sorry…almost threw up. Too much unselfishness. Can’t stomach it.

Actually, now that my nausea’s subsiding, I kinda like this lineup. Enough defense to hide Julius, I can run the offense through him and Payton, got Dot working off the ball for open jumpers, Prince coming off a World Cup run and some summer Instagram workouts…you know what? These Frankie lineups are interesting. Maybe I’ve had him all wrong. Maybe he belongs in the rotation. Maybe I need to rethink my starting lineup…

On This Date: Knicks use Amensty Provision…. on Jerome Williams

August 15th 2005: The New York Knicks use their Amnesty Provision on Jerome Williams

As part of the 2005 NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement, the NBA agreed to include an Amnesty Provision to rid teams of one of their biggest contract regrets. This rule was colloquially known as the Allan Houston Rule due to the $100 million contract the Knicks offered him. Knee injuries forced Houston to miss 94 games over the previous 2 seasons. Houston also had 2 years and $40 million remaining on his contract.

However, in somewhat typical Knicks fashion, the Knicks decided not to amnesty Houston. Instead, the Knicks amnestied Jerome “Junkyard Dog” Williams. Williams had 3 more years remaining on a 7 year $40 million deal he signed with the Toronto Raptors back in 2001. The amnesty allowed the team to save $21 million in future luxury tax payments. Williams never played another game in the NBA.

The biggest surprise was not amnestying Houston. To make things even more baffling, Houston announced his retirement shortly before the beginning of the 2005-06 season. Saving $20 million would have got the Knicks closer out of the salary cap hell that plagued the team for most of the 2000s.

On This Date: The Knicks sign Michael Beasley & Ramon Sessions

August 8th 2017: The New York Knicks sign Michael Beasley & Ramon Sessions

Two of the first few acquisitions under the Scott Perry Era were Michael Beasley & Ramon Sessions. The Knicks signed both players to one year contracts. Beasley spent the previous season with the Milwaukee Bucks. He played serviceable minutes off the bench backing up Giannis Antetokounmpo and proved to be a consistent 6th man with his offensive prowess. Sessions played 50 games with the Charlotte Hornets in the previous season before missing most of the 2nd of the year recovering from a lateral meniscus tear in his knee.

For Beasley, the Knicks envisioned his role as a backup to either Kristaps Porzingis or Carmelo Anthony. After the Melo trade, Beasley easily became the team’s most consistent 6th man off the bench. Colloquially known as the “Walking Bucket,” Beasley shot over 50% from the field off the bench. After Kristaps Porzingis suffered a Torn ACL, Beasley took over as the team’s starting power forward. While not as efficient starting, Beasley continued to play effectively.

The Knicks envisioned Ramon Sessions to be the veteran point guard presence for Frank Ntilikina. Additionally, the Knicks signed Jarrett Jack shortly before training camp to reinforce that role. Sessions originally was the team’s starting point guard. However, he was ineffective at that role and quickly fell out of the rotation as Jack became the team’s starting point guard and Ntilikina became his backup. The Knicks waived Sessions to allow the team to promote Trey Burke to the NBA squad.

Beasley spent last year with the Los Angeles Lakers before being traded crosstown to the rival Los Angeles Clippers. The team waived him shortly after the trade. After the Knicks waived Sessions, he signed with the Washington Wizards. He spent a few months last year with Maccabi Tel Aviv, but left the team due to personal reasons.

Both players are currently free agents.

On This Date: The Knicks sign Jared Jeffries

August 7th 2006: The New York Knicks sign Jared Jeffries

The Knicks signed Jared Jeffries to the mid-level exception of 5 years and $30 million. While Isiah Thomas clearly overpaid for Jeffries, he attempted to bring in a defensive and versatile presence to a roster that not only didn’t defend and was often one dimensional on both ends of the floor.

Jeffries’ impact was often beyond the stat sheet. This included properly setting screens, switching on defense, and taking charges. However, that impact was not characterized in stats and thus many often ignored it and focused on his lack of scoring and rebounding for a big man. Losing the number of games the Knicks did certainly didn’t help. He was often the joke amongst Knicks fans for his hilarious attempts at scoring the ball on offense.

A left wrist fracture delayed Jeffries’ start to his Knicks tenure. However, he made an impact early on after his return, most notably during the Nuggets/Knicks brawl where he choked future teammate Carmelo Anthony and almost went to punch him after Melo sucker punched Collins. For that effort, the NBA suspended Jeffries 4 games.

Coach Mike D’Antoni attempted to maximize Jeffries’ versatility in his high paced system. He was often utilized in a positionless scheme the same way D’Antoni took advantage of players such as Boris Diaw. He guarded anyone from big men to point guards and was the ultimate hustle player. Unfortunately, the Knicks quest for stardom during the 2010 NBA Free Agency meant sacrificing Jeffries during the 2010 trade deadline.

However, the Knicks didn’t forget about Jeffries’ impact on the team. After the Carmelo Anthony trade, Jeffries returned to the Knicks as a free agent on a minimum contract. Without the burden of his big contract, Jeffries continued to do what he did best: hustle, work hard, and do the dirty work. He experienced the playoffs with the Knicks that season.

Jeffries spent one more year with the Knicks and retired after the 2012-13 season.

On This Date: The Knicks sign Jeremy Tyler

August 6th 2013: The New York Knicks sign Jeremy Tyler

After a nice summer league performance, the New York Knicks signed Jeremy Tyler to a training camp contract. However, Tyler underwent foot surgery a month later that would sideline him for 8-10 weeks. For some strange reason, the Knicks cut Tyler before the regular season started to keep Chris Smith, JR Smith’s brother, on the roster.

Fortunately, saner minds prevailed as the Knicks cut Smith and re-signed Tyler after the latter rehabilitated from his injury. Tyler played 41 games with the Knicks and hand some decent highlights with the team. Tyler played in Summer League in 2014, but was traded to the Sacramento Kings in a cap-clearing deal. Since the deal, Tyler spent his career on various teams overseas.

On This Date: The Knicks acquire Jamal Crawford

August 5th 2004: The New York Knicks acquire Jamal Crawford

The New York Knicks acquired Jamal Crawford in a sign-and-trade with the Chicago Bulls. The Knicks acquired 24 year old Crawford and Jerome “Junkyard Dog” Williams from the Bulls for Dikembe Mutombo, Othella Harrington, Frank Williams, and Cezary Trybanksi. Crawford signed a 7 year $56 million deal.

Crawford quickly inserted himself as the starting shooting guard alongside Stephon Marbury. While not the most efficient scorer, Crawford was a walking bucket with a penchant to hit 3s at a very high rate and a decent passing ability for a combo guard. Under Larry Brown, Crawford reverted into a 6th man role. While not fully comfortable in the role, Crawford foreshadowed his future in the league.

Despite the turmoil within the Knicks, Crawford had several highlight moments with the team including some game-winning baskets, a highlight self-pass and dunk, and a career high 52 points against the Miami Heat.

To clear up cap space for 2010, the Knicks traded Crawford to the Golden State Warriors for Al Harrington. Crawford cemented his role as a proficient 6th man and won the award 3 times. Over his entire NBA career, Crawford has built a reputation of being a great teammate and consummate professional.

On This Date: Happy Birthday Mardy Collins

August 4th 1984: Mardy Collins’ Birthday

Mardy Collins was born on this date. The New York Knicks used the 29th overall pick (acquired in the Malik Rose trade) in the 2006 NBA Draft to draft Collins. Outside of some moments in the end of the year, Collins is best known for his role in the infamous Knicks/Nuggets brawl. Collins was suspended 6 games for his role in the brawl.

The Knicks traded Collins in the 2008-09 season to the Los Angeles Clippers in a cap-saving deal that netted Tim Thomas and Cuttino Mobley. Collins spent most of the 2010s overseas. He most notably spent a season with SIG Strasbourg and was teammates with current Knick Frank Ntilikina.

On This Date: The NBA is officially formed

August 3rd 1949: The creation of the modern NBA

The National Basketball League (NBL) merged with the Basketball Association of America (BAA) to form what is now the National Basketball Association (NBA). The NBL originally formed in 1937 and consisted of nearly 38 teams. The BAA consisted of 16 teams and formed in 1946.

Since the formation of the BAA, there was competition amongst leagues for both teams and players. One of the more notable players included George Mikan, who ended up playing in both leagues at different times. Unlike the NBL, the BAA was unique in that it presented an opportunity to play in larger arenas, including both the Boston Garden & Madison Square Garden. Coincidentally, the initial BAA franchises included the current day Boston Celtics & New York Knicks.

Due to cannibalized competition, both leagues met in New York City to finalize a merger. Many of the teams in the NBL folded or merged with existing teams in the BAA or NBL. Interestingly, 5 of the current teams in the NBA can directly trace their roots back to the NBL. For example, the Minneapolis Lakers migrated to the NBA from the NBL. The Lakers eventually moved to Los Angeles in 1958 and are well known as the Los Angeles Lakers. The Rochester Royals of the NBL are now known as the Sacramento Kings.

On This Date: Knicks sign Jerome James

August 2nd 2005: The New York Knicks sign Jerome James

In one of the most questionable moves of Isiah Thomas’ Knicks tenure, the New York Knicks signed Jerome James to a 5 year contract worth nearly $30 million. Isiah felt the need to offer James a contract after a solid performance in the 2005 NBA Playoffs with the Seattle Supersonics.

James was slated to split center minutes with rookie Channing Frye. However, Isiah doubled down on centers by acquiring Eddy Curry in a sign and trade that nearly crippled the franchise during the mid 2000s.

James appeared in his first Knicks training camp out of shape. Coach Larry Brown admonished him to get into playing shape and suspended him at a point for not being ready to play. Throughout the duration of his Knicks tenure, he seemed to make a lot more money than minutes played.

James played a combined 86 games during his first 2 seasons, but totaled only 679 minutes in 19 starts. He nearly made more than $17,000 per minute played during that stretch. The final 2 years were laughable as James played only 4 more games and 15 minutes in total with the Knicks while earning another $12 million in the process.

GM Donnie Walsh attempted to negotiate a buyout with James, but couldn’t come to terms to a settlement. Instead, the Knicks traded James’ contract to the Bulls to acquire Larry Hughes. James never played a game in the NBA after the trade.

Isiah Thomas later admitted in 2011 that signing James was a mistake. However, he did originally think of him as an up-and-coming center. That thought alone is inexcusable.

On This Date: Knicks sign Ron Baker

August 1st 2016: The New York Knicks sign Ron Baker

The New York Knicks officially inked Ron “Ron Burgundy” Baker to a contract. Without a draft pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, Phil Jackson immediately invited Burgundy to the Summer League squad. The Knicks subsequently signed Baker to a non-guaranteed contract.

The Wichita State alum, and former teammate of Cleanthony Early, came into the league with a reputation as a tough defensive guard who could also hit the open 3. Burgundy was a combo guard who had PG skills. Despite being only 6’3, his 6’8 wingspan allowed him to defend taller guards and small forwards.

Baker made the Knicks opening night roster. He split his time between the Knicks roster and the G-League team. He played 52 NBA games in his rookie campaign and started 13 of those games after the Knicks waived Brandon Jennings & Derrick Rose suffered a season ending knee injury.

His rookie season led Steve Mills to give Baker a 2 year contract worth $8.9 million. Due to Mills’ other more infamous move that offseason3, this contract went under the rug. This was one of the more questionable signings, but somewhat justifiable due to his defensive efforts.

Unfortunately, Baker’s 2017-18 was marred by multiple injuries. An ankle sprain kept him out of the beginning of the season. Additionally, Baker suffered a shoulder injury rehabilitating from his ankle sprain that would foreshadow his downfall later in the year. To add insult to injury, Burgundy was the victim of a nasty Anthony Davis poster that resulted in a fractured orbital bone. The final nail to the season was when he tore his right labrum diving for a loose ball against the Nets in January 2018. He missed the remainder of the season.

Due to the plethora of Knick guards on the roster, Baker received minimal playing time to start the 2018-19 season. The Knicks later waived him to create room to sign Allonzo Trier to an NBA contract. Baker later signed with the Wizards, but eventually underwent surgery again on his torn right labrum.

Burgundy recently signed with CSKA Moscow to regain footing in his young basketball career.

On This Date: Happy Birthday to some of our fellow former Knicks

July 31st: Happy Birthday to our fellow former Knicks

Henry Akin was born on July 31st 1944. He played one season with the New York Knicks and averaged 3.8 points/game in 50 games. He subsequently was an inaugural member of the Seattle Supersonics franchise in the 1967-68 season. His most memorable moment as a Knick was making his first two buckets over Wilt Chamberlain in his first ever NBA game.

Kostas Papanikolaou was born on July 31st 1990. He was drafted in the 2nd round by the Knicks in the 2012 NBA Draft. However, his draft rights went to the Portland Trailblazers in a trade that netted Raymond Felton. He spent parts of 2 seasons with the Houston Rockets and Denver Nuggets.

Scott Brooks was born on July 31st 1965. After winning 2 championships with the Houston Rockets, Brooks joined the Knicks for the 1996-97 season. He spent most of the time on the bench and almost got cut when Walt “Clyde” Frazier considered a return to the franchise.2

On This Date: The New York Knicks sign Anthony Mason

July 30th 1991: The New York Knicks sign Anthony Mason

In a somewhat unheralded move at the time, the New York Knicks officially signed Anthony Mason to an NBA contract. Mason, later known simply as the original “Mase,” spent the summer of 1991 on the Knicks summer league roster. A native of Queens, Mase spent his first few post-collegiate years overseas in Turkey and Venezuela. In between those stints, he spent parts of 2 seasons with the Denver Nuggets, New Jersey Nets, and the Tulsa Fast Breakers of the Continental Basketball Association.

Before joining the Knicks, Mase was heralded for his talents in the frontcourt combined with a deft passing ability unseen in many big men. New Knicks coach Pat Riley inserted Mase into the 2nd unit where he helped cement the Knicks already strong frontcourt presence. His combination of toughness on both ends of the floor helped the Knicks reach the playoffs, including a finals run in 1994.

After Riley left, coach Don Nelson inserted Mase into the starting lineup. As a starter, Mase averaged career highs in all categories, with 14.6 points/game, 9.3 rebounds/game, and 4.4 assists/game. The latter showcased Mase’s skills as a point forward. It was a role that eventually became a part of the positionless basketball, highlighted by Draymond Green amongst others. Unfortunately, differences in coaching philosophies cut Nelson’s tenure short after less than 1 season with the Knicks.

After the 1996 season, a combination of off-court issues and a quest for more offensive firepower led the Knicks to trade Mase to the Charlotte Hornets for Larry Johnson. Mase harbored tensions towards the Knicks organization due to the trade. Mase displayed his point forward skills during his tenure with the Hornets and also earned an All-Star berth in 2001 with the Miami Heat after reuniting with Riley.

Mase eventually reconciled with the Knicks and was often seen courtside at games or chatting with several of the Knicks players during the years. Sadly, Mase passed away in 2015 due to congestive heart failure at the age of 48.

On This Date: Sonny Hertzberg’s Birthday

July 29th 1922: Sonny Hertzberg was born

Sidney “Sonny” Hertzberg was born on this date in 1922. A Brookyln native, Hertzberg played college basketball with future Knick coach Red Holzman at the City College of New York. Sonny was part of the inaugural Knicks team in the 1946-47 season. He was the team captain and leading scorer with 8.7 points/game.

Sonny later joined the Washington Capitols, playing for future Celtics legend Red Auerbach. Similaryl, Hertzberg joined the Celtics and later retired in 1953.

After his basketball career, Sonny returned to the Knicks to become a scout and assistant coach. He spent 2 seasons on WPIX announcing Knicks games as a color commentator.

After his short broadcasting stint, Sonny pivoted into investment management. He rose up to the managing director title of the now defunct Bear Stearns. He retired from his position in 2003 before passing away in 2005 due to heart failure.

On This Date: Bill Bradley’s Birthday

July 28th 1943: Bill Bradley was born

New York Knicks great Bill Bradley was born on July 28th 1943. After a touted collegiate career at Princeton, Bradley spent 6 months in the Air Force before joining the New York Knicks. Bradley spent his entire NBA career with the Knicks and won 2 championships along the way. The Knicks eventually retired his number.

After retirement, Bradley embarked on a successful political career. He spent 18 years in the US Senate representing the state of New Jersey.

On This Date: Knicks hire Larry Brown

July 27th 2005: The New York Knicks hire Larry Brown

In one of the more surprising, yet unsurprising heists in team history, the New York Knicks hired Larry Brown as the next head coach. Brown took the Detroit Pistons to two straight NBA Finals, winning a championship in 2004. Brown always dreamed to coach the Knicks and was allegedly lobbying for the position during the NBA Finals. Coming off a 33-49 season, Isiah Thomas and the Knicks management made a bold splash in offering Brown a 5 year contract worth $50 million.

The marriage was doomed from the start. Expectations to make the playoffs shattered early in the season. Brown publicly complained about his roster and retaliated with his multitude of starting lineups. The tensions between Brown, the players, and the front office became public very early. Brown simply sabotaged the season.

While many Larry Brown teams bottom out in their first season together, the Knicks presented a different scenario. Not only did the team bottom out, but did so in a way that simply embarrassed the franchise, fans, and the league. The Knicks bottomed out in a season where they did not have their own lottery pick. The season was an abject disaster.

Due to the nightmare of a season, the Knicks fired Brown after only one season. Brown filed a grievance against the Knicks, but ultimately settled for $28.5 million of the $50 million owed to him in total. To be quite honest, he did not deserve one penny more than the $10 million he earned during his lone season.

On This Date: Amare Stoudemire retires as a Knick

July 26th 2016: Amare Stoudemire retires a New York Knick

Amare Stoudemire officially signed a one-day contract with the New York Knicks to announce his retirement from the NBA. The Knicks originally signed Amare to a 5 year contract worth $100 million in 2010. He was the first superstar to join the Knicks in free agency ever.

Amare had a near-MVP start to his Knicks career. The acquisition of Carmelo Anthony mid-season allowed the Knicks to make the playoffs for the first time since 2004. However, injuries prevented the Knicks from realizing Amare’s true potential.

A nagging back injury limited Amare’s explosiveness during the lockout season. Despite making the playoffs once again, Stoudemire started showing signs of decline as a player. Knee injuries limited Stoudemire to 29 games during the 54 win campaign.

Stat returned to play 65 games during the 2013-14 season. While he showed some signs of his old self, he largely accepted a supporting role on the team, including coming off the bench. He averaged a career low 11.9 points/game.2

The 2014-15 season was a disaster for the Knicks. The team decided to buyout the remainder of Amare’s contract to allow him to join a playoff contender. He joined the Mavericks for the remainder of the season. His final season, 2015-16, came with Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat.

On This Date: Knicks sign Ronnie Brewer

July 25th 2012: The New York Knicks sign Ronnie Brewer

The New York Knicks continued to add more defensive oriented pieces to the roster by signing Ronnie Brewer to a contract. Brewer played the previous 2 seasons with the Chicago Bulls and was part of coach Tom Thibodeau’s bench mob. At 6’7 with a long wingspan, the Knicks expected Brewer to provide a defensive identity off the bench.

Brewer started the season as the team’s starting small forward due to Amare Stoudemire’s knee injury. Ultimately, Iman Shumpert’s return from a torn ACL pushed Brewer out of the rotation. As the Knicks sought to shore up their frontcourt depth, the team traded Brewer mid-season to the Oklahoma City Thunder for a future 2nd round pick. The team used the spot to sign Kenyon Martin.

On This Date: Knicks sign Pablo Prigioni

July 24th 2012: The New York Knicks sign Pablo Prigioni

In one of Kevin Wilson’s more successful international discoveries, the New York Knicks signed Argentinian point guard Pablo Prigioni to a contract. After starting his professional basketball career in Argentina, Prigioni spent more than a decade playing in Spain. More notably, he was the point guard on the Argentinian basketball, playing alongside the legend Manu Ginobili.

Prigioni’s veteran savviness was a major benefit to the Knick roster that eventually reached the Eastern Conference Semifinals for the first time since 2000. He was an unselfish player, often very reluctant to shoot a wide open shot to instead find a wide open player for an alley oop, breakaway dunk, or three point shot. When he did shoot the ball, he was quite proficient from 3. Knicks fans loved him more for being a pest on defense. He simply pickpocketed point guards when they least expected it. He was the master of stealing inbound passes.

The Knicks rewarded his savviness with a 3 year extension after the season. He played 1.5 more years with the Knicks before joining the Houston Rockets midway through the 2014-15 season. He finished his NBA career with the Los Angeles Clippers before returning to Baskonia to become a player/coach.

Prigioni is now an assistant coach for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

On This Date: Knicks trade Sprewell for Van Horn

July 23rd 2003: The New York Knicks trade Latrell Sprewell for Keith Van Horn

After many months of speculation, the New York Knicks officially traded Latrell Sprewell in a four-team deal for Keith Van Horn. The 76ers traded Van Horn to the Knicks and received Glenn Robinson from the Atlanta Hawks. The Minnesota Timberwolves traded Terrell Brandon to the Hawks and acquired Spree in return.

Spree got on the bad side of James Dolan & Scott Layden during the end of his Knicks tenure. He infamously missed several media training sessions. Spree often angered coaches by arriving late to team shootarounds. The final straw came during the beginning of the 2002-03 training camp when Spree showed up with a broken hand due to a boating accident. The injury forced Spree to miss the first 8 games of the regular season. Spree averaged many career lows during the 2002-03 season. The Knicks’ pursuit for high character players led to Spree’s departure.

Ironically, Van Horn spent the preceding year with the Philadelphia 76ers. The 76ers originally drafted him, but traded him to the Nets in a draft-day deal for Tim Thomas. Van Horn had a relatively efficient year in his lone season with the 76ers even when averaging around 16 points/game. He spent most of his time playing power forward. The trade shifted him back to his natural position at small forward.

The biggest questions surrounding Van Horn related to his perceived softness and ability to handle the pressures of New York. While he had a productive half-season with the Knicks, he wasn’t truly able to answer both questions. New GM Isiah Thomas traded Van Horn to Milwaukee for Tim Thomas & Nazr Mohammed.

Spree instantly fit into a stacked Timberwolves roster featuring Kevin Garnett & Sam Cassell. Spree played all 82 games and averaged 17 points/game. He felt a major rejuvenation as he helped lead the Timberwolves to the Western Conference Finals. The WCF berth led Garnett to his first MVP award. Unfortunately, injuries in their backcourt to Cassell & Troy Hudson led to their defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers in 6.

Spree played 1 more season with the Timberwolves. Shortly after the 2004-05 season, Spree infamously rejected a 3 year $21 million extension because “he had a family to feed.” After the season ended, no NBA team offered Spree a contract and his basketball career ended.

On This Date: Knicks extend Red Holzman’s contract

July 22nd 1972: The Knicks extend Red Holzman’s contract

Heading into the 1973 championship season, owner Ned Irish made sure Red Holzman continued to coach the Knicks. Irish signed Holzman to a 2 year extension of his original contract, which expired in 1973. Holzman continued to maintain the role of both coach and general manager. He is only one of two coaches in Knicks history that retained the role of both coach and GM (Isiah Thomas maintained both roles after Dolan fired Larry Brown in 2006). At the time, Holzman was the only coach that held both roles.

At the time, owner Ned Irish did not approve of Holzman holding both roles as coach and general manager. While some of the disagreements became public, Irish did not hesitate to extend the contract due to the team success under his tenure.

After signing the extension, the Knicks won the championship in 1973. Holzman lasted as coach until 1977 before reappearing with the Knicks after a year of hiatus. Red gave up his GM post in 1975 when Eddie Donovan rejoined the organization.

On This Date: Knicks sign Clarence Weatherspoon

July 21st 2001: The New York Knicks sign Clarence Weatherspoon

The New York Knicks officially signed Clarence Weathersppon to a 5 year contract worth $27 million. The move was made in anticipation for Larry Johnson’s eventual retirement due to his chronic back injuries. Weathersppon started all 82 games for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the previous season and averaged 11.3 points/game and 9.7 rebounds/game.

Weatherspoon provided the same rebounding tenacity he brought throughout his prime, but mostly played a nondescript role on an aging, unathletic Knicks squad that missed the playoffs for the first time in nearly 15 years. The highlight of his Knick career was during Patrick Ewing’s jersey retirement when he grabbed a career high 24 rebounds.

The Knicks dealt Weatherspoon early in the 2003-04 season to the Houston Rockets for Moochie Norris.

On This Date: The NBA Retires Nate Robinson’s Summer League jersey

July 20th 2008: The NBA retires Nate Robinson’s Summer League jersey

As a funny joke to Nate Robinson’s summer league prowess, the NBA decided to retire his jersey. He miraculously played in the Summer League every year during his 4 seasons in the NBA. He won the Summer League MVP in 2007 after leading the Knicks to an undefeated record.

During halftime of the Knicks/Timberwolves game, Nate’s Summer League jersey was put up into the rafters. It was one of the memorable moments in Vegas Summer League history. Unfortunately, a maintenance guy did not seem to have any fun and decided to remove his jersey the next day.

On This Date: Knicks decline to match Jackie Butler’s offer sheet

July 19th 2006: The New York Knicks decline to match Jackie Butler’s offer sheet

The New York Knicks declined to match Jackie Butler’s offer sheet after the San Antonio Spurs offered him a 3 year contract worth $7 million. Butler originally signed with the Knicks as a 19 year old shortly after the 2004-05 trade deadline. Butler played only 3 games that season. However, Butler received more minutes at backup center under coach Larry Brown. In 55 games, Butler averaged 5.3 points/game and 3.3 rebounds/game.

Butler was viewed as a promising prospect during his Knicks tenure. Both Brown & GM Isiah Thomas often referred to him as a bonus 1st round pick. He even received clutch minutes at the center position during close games.

However, the Spurs presented a lucrative offer sheet for Butler. The Knicks decided not to match the offer due to the glut of big men on the team. Although Butler won a ring with the Spurs in the 2006-07 season, he only played 11 games and didn’t contribute much. The Spurs traded him to the Houston Rockets in the next offseason and the latter waived him shortly before the beginning of the year.

Despite showing plenty of potential, Butler never panned out in the NBA after leaving the Knicks. Issues with conditioning plagued his tenure in San Antonio. He never seemed to play with much effort or desire. After being waived, he disappeared from the spotlight and it’s unknown whether he stepped foot on a basketball court again.

On This Date: Knicks sign Jason Smith

July 18th 2014: The New York Knicks sign Jason Smith

The New York Knicks shored up some of their frontcourt depth by signing Jason Smith to a one year contract. Smith came off a season where he missed most of the season due to right knee surgery. Despite the injury, Smith came to the Knicks with a reputation of being a physical player with a decent propensity to score from mid-range.

Despite the meager expectations, Smith somehow ended up playing all 82 games in the season. He started 31 of those games and averaged 8.0 points/game and 4.0 rebounds/game. Even though the Knicks dealt with a major collapse early on in the season, Smith continued to play and eventually showed consistent effort on both ends of the floor.

After the season, Smith left to join the Orlando Magic.

On This Date: Knicks don’t match Jeremy Lin’s offer sheet

July 17th 2012: The New York Knicks do not match Jeremy Lin’s offer sheet

To the shock of many fans, the New York Knicks officially did not match Jeremy Lin’s offer sheet and thus allowed him to sign with the Houston Rockets. Lin originally signed an offer sheet worth 4 years and $28.9 million. The contract itself was guaranteed for $19 million. The Knicks previously proclaimed that they would match any offer sheet offered to Lin.

However, Rockets GM Daryl Morey added a poison pill into the contract. He revised the offer sheet to include a $15 million balloon salary in his 3rd year. Morey revised the contract to a 3 year $25 million deal. The $15 million contract. The third year of the contract would have cost the Knicks almost $40 million in luxury tax alone. After Morey revised the offer sheet, the Knicks felt hesitation in matching the contract.

At the same time, James Dolan felt betrayed that Lin and/or Morey went back to revise the contract. The lack of loyalty and trust definitely played a role in the aftermath of the offer sheet. The Knicks subsequently acquired Raymond Felton, officially putting Lin’s future with the team in jeopardy.

Due to the factors above, the Knicks didn’t match the Rockets’ offer sheet. Fans were clearly disappointed after witnessing Linsanity. In hindsight, it was the right move for the franchise. Lin only played one solid season during the contract (2012-13), but a propensity for turnovers and unease playing with both James Harden & Kobe Bryant demised him over the remainder of the deal.