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.