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.
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