June 30th 1999: The New York Knicks draft Frederic Weis
The New York Knicks did the unthinkable on this date and drafted Frederic Weis with the 15th overall pick. Players such as Ron Artest, James Posey, or even anyone else were still on the draft board. The pick made absolutely no sense to anyone but the INTERIM General Manager Ed Tapscott.
Tapscott believed the team needed to draft Patrick Ewing’s replacement. In doing so, he reached for Weis instead of taking a more impactful player in Artest or anyone else. Matter of fact, the Knicks could have drafted Jeff Foster and got a solid center in their rotation.
Instead, the Knicks chose Weis. Weis participated in Summer League, but went back to Europe after Jeff Van Gundy was very iffy on his prospects to play in the NBA. Weis re-appeared on the main scene in the 2000 Olympics where Vince Carter performed the “Dunk of Death” over his poor soul. Ultimately, Weis never recovered from that moment.
A combination of the factors above led to a serious bout of alcoholism and depression. It’s a generally sad tale of a foreign prospect who couldn’t live up to his expectations. As of 2015, Weis owned a tobacco store near his home in France.
As for Artest, his new Showtime documentary “Quiet Storm” perfectly explained why he wasn’t a Knick. According to Artest, he skipped a pre-draft workout with the Knicks after getting too drunk the night before. As another maligned former NY Knick and native New Yorker once put it, Artest was the original definition of being “too lit for NY.”
June 29th 1994: The New York Knicks draft Charlie Ward & Monty Williams
Fresh off an NBA Finals run, the Knicks went into the 1994 NBA Draft trying to find role players who could play meaningful minutes on a playoff squad. With the 24th pick in the NBA Draft, the Knicks first drafted Monty Williams out of Notre Dame. Monty’s basketball career nearly ended before stepping foot on Notre Dame’s campus because of a heart condition. Midway through his college career, he realized all of his symptoms reversed and he was ready to resume his playing career. Monty did not play basketball in college for two seasons because of his heart ailments.
The Knicks also had the 26th pick in the draft due to a 1991 trade with the Atlanta Hawks that sent Maurice Cheeks off to Atlanta. The Knicks received Tim McCormick and the Hawks’ 1994 1st round pick. The Knicks drafted Charlie Ward from Florida State. Ward was not only the starting point guard for FSU, but was a Heisman winning quarterback.
Williams played more, albeit relatively sparingly overall, than Ward during their rookie campaigns. Williams made 23 starts in 41 games mostly due to a toe injury that sidelined Charles Oakley for nearly 30 games. However, Ward started received more minutes as Williams’ playing time dwindled under Don Nelson. Due to the lack of playing time and a subsequent trade request, the Knicks shipped Williams, along with Charles Smith, to the San Antonio Spurs in February 1996.
Ward eventually received consistent minutes as the team’s backup point guard and took over the starting role beginning in the 1997-98 season. He remains the only Knick rookie in the last 25 years to receive a contract extension after his rookie deal.
June 28th 2005: The New York Knicks 2005 NBA Draft – Channing Frye, Nate Robinson, David Lee
Isiah Thomas’ first draft with 1st round draft picks turned out to be quite a haul for the Knicks organization. With the 8th overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, the Knicks drafted Channing Frye out of Arizona. Frye was a relatively safe selection and filled an important need for the Knicks in the frontcourt. While Andrew Bynum & Danny Granger were both on the board, neither player warranted a selection in the top 8 picks before the draft.
The Knicks acquired the 21st overall pick from the Phoenix Suns on a draft day trade. The Knicks traded Kurt Thomas and the 54th overall pick (Dijon Thompson) to the Suns for Quentin Richardson & the 21st overall pick. The Knicks used the pick to select Nate Robinson. Robinson was a supreme athlete even though listed at below 5’9. He originally played football at Washington, but focused solely on basketball beginning his sophomore season. Richardson developed into a premiere three point shooter in his lone season in Phoenix, winning the three point competition and making 226 three point shots.
The Knicks acquired the 30th overall pick earlier in the year during a trade deadline trade with the San Antonio Spurs that also netted them Malik Rose. The Knicks used the pick to draft David Lee from Florida. Lee won the SEC’s men’s basketball tournament with Florida in his final season. Lee was an athletic forward who was also ambidextrous and could rebound with dexterity.
The three rooks provided the Knicks with a good return during their tenures. Frye had a successful rookie season, earning Rookie of the Month in November and earning a selection to the NBA All Rookie First Team. He suffered a season ending injury in March which cut his season short. Lee’s minutes were sporadic throughout the season, but he had a stretch of 13 starts between December and January. He became a double double threat during that short stretch. Robinson had more exciting stretches, but also showed inconsistency and immaturity during his rookie campaign with various locker room altercations. He did hit a game-winning three pointer against the Philadelphia 76ers after Thanksgiving. Additionally, Nate won the 2006 Slam Dunk Contest.
Quentin Richardson never regained his elite three point touch in Phoenix. As we learned later in a touching piece with the Players Tribune, Richardson’s brother was shot and killed in Chicago during his first season with the Knicks. The tragedy led to a bout of anger, depression, and binge drinking. His Knicks tenure was scarred by team dysfunction, injuries, and personal tragedies.
The Knicks dealt Frye to the Trailblazer on the 2007 NBA Draft. Lee & Robinson both remained with the team near the end of their first rookie contracts. Lee became a double double machine in his sophomore season and won the Rookie/Sophomore game MVP. Under Mike D’Antoni he became an All-Star in 2010. Robinson became into a scoring threat off the bench that excited fans with occasional in-game dunks. Under D’Antoni, Nate even became a 6th man of the year candidate after he averaged 17 points/game. Unfortunately, tensions with D’Antoni and overall immaturity led to his trade during the 2010 Trade Deadline.
June 27th 1988: The New York Knicks trade Bill Cartwright for Charles Oakley in a draft-day trade
The New York Knicks completed one of the more successful draft-day deals in franchise history when they traded Bill Cartwright to the Chicago Bulls for Charles Oakley and a 1st and 3rd round pick swap in the 1988 NBA Draft.
Cartwright largely felt out of place in New York as Patrick Ewing cemented his role as the franchise cornerstone at center. While Charles Oakley had dominant rebounding seasons with the Bulls, he was deemed expendable after the team drafted Horace Grant in the previous season. As the Knicks needed a true power forward and the Bulls needed a formidable center, this swap made perfect sense.
Additionally, the pick swap gave the Bulls the 11th pick and the Knicks the 19th pick. To further shore up the frontcourt, the Bulls drafted Will Perdue. The Knicks drafted Rod Strickland, despite having Rookie of the Year Mark Jackson as the team’s main point guard. Strickland was traded to the Spurs in his sophomore season after demanding a trade due to a lack of playing minutes.
Ultimately, the trade proved to be a win-win for both teams. Cartwright enjoyed several productive seasons with the Bulls including winning 3 championships during Jordan’s first three-peat. Oakley served as the Knicks’ power forward for 10 seasons and was the perfect frontcourt partner for Ewing. Some of his accomplishments included making an NBA All Star Game and earning a selection to the NBA All Defensive Team in 1994.