On This Date: The New York Knicks acquire Antonio McDyess

June 26th 2002: The New York Knicks acquire Antonio McDyess on Draft Day

Fresh off their first season out of the playoffs, the New York Knicks were in a strange position: scouting potential lottery picks. The Knicks spent little to no time scouting 1st round picks over the past 10 seasons as the team played deep into the playoffs. Knicks GM Scott Layden, facing significant criticism from fans and analysts from his questionable signings, trades, etc., was in deep pressure to make a bold draft choice.

Hearing significant boos and “Fire Layden” chants on draft night, the Knicks drafted Maybyner “Nene” Hilario with the 7th pick. Fans immediately booed the pick as they expected anyone else including Chris Wilcox, Amare Stoudemire, UConn standout Caron Butler, and even Jared Jeffries at the minimum. Instead of dealing with the criticism of drafting Nene, Layden went even further and traded the pick.

The Knicks traded Nene, along with Mark Jackson & Marcus Camby, to the Denver Nuggets for Antonio McDyess, the 25th pick in the NBA Draft, and a 2003 2nd round pick. Layden orchestrated this trade simply because he thought this was the best chance to get back into the NBA playoffs. He thought McDyess would be that athletic frontcourt presence that would complement the Knicks core players. Camby came off a year where he only played in 29 games due to injury. Jackson, then 37 years old, was on the downside of his career.

The trade didn’t benefit the Knicks on any angle. The team had high hopes for McDyess entering the preseason. Fans thought he nearly regained most of his athleticism until he tore his patellar tendon after a putback dunk. McDyess missed the entire 2002-03 season and only played 18 games with the Knicks before the team dealt him to Phoenix for Stephon Marbury. Camby got over his injury woes to have a generally healthy and productive tenure with Denver. He was on the NBA All-Defensive teams from 2005-08, winning the NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2007. Nene’s had a productive career in the NBA as both a starting center and as a backup. He just came off a season as the backup center for the Houston Rockets.

The 25th overall draft pick in the 2002 NBA Draft became Frank Williams. After he played sparingly during his rookie season, he received decent minutes in his sophomore season and was slated to receive decent minutes as a backup PG until Isiah Thomas acquired Marbury. He was traded to the Bulls in the next season and left the NBA afterwards. The 2003 2nd round pick, however, became Maciej Lampe. Despite the cheers for the pick, Lampe turned out to be a bust in the NBA.

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