On This Date: The Knicks trade Patrick Ewing

September 20th 2000: The New York Knicks trade Patrick Ewing

In what seemed like a long time coming, the New York Knicks finalized a four-team trade that dealt their franchise player Patrick Ewing to the Seattle Supersonics.  The full trade details are shown below:

The New York Knicks trade:

Patrick Ewing, Chris Dudley, 2001 1st Round Pick

The New York Knicks acquire:

Lazaro Borrell, Travis Knight, Luc Longley, Vernon Maxwell, Glen Rice, Vladimir Stepania, 2001 1st Round Pick via the Los Angeles Lakers, two 2001 2nd Round Picks via the Seattle Supersonics, 2002 1st Round Pick via the Supersonics

The Phoenix Suns trade:

Luc Longley

The Phoenix Suns acquire:

Chris Dudley, 2001 1st Round Pick via the New York Knicks

The Los Angeles Lakers trade:

Travis Knight, Glen Rice, 2001 1st Round Pick

The Los Angeles Lakers acquire:

Emanuel Davis, Greg Foster, Horace Grant, Chuck Person

The Seattle Supersonics trade:

Lazaro Borrell, Emanuel Davis, Greg Foster, Horace Grant, Vernon Maxwell, Chuck Person, Vladimir Stepania, two 2001 2nd Round Picks, 2002 1st Round Pick

The Seattle Supersonics acquire:

Patrick Ewing

 

The Ewing trade was in the works for most of the offseason. Ewing requested a trade after not receiving a two-year extension he requested early in the offseason. He was also uncomfortable being a supporting player at the age of 38 and felt the toll of acrimonious relationships between the team, fans, and media after not being able to lead the Knicks to an NBA championship. The divorce seemed inevitable after the 1999-00 season ended. The team almost felt hampered by Ewing’s presence on the floor both offensively and defensively. The team played much faster, and even better, without him on the floor.

For most of August that year, the Knicks worked the phone lines to formulate a trade. The original trade that almost went through involved the Detroit Pistons and would have resulted in the Knicks acquiring both Glen Rice & Vin Baker. However, the Pistons got cold feet and the Knicks tried to find another team to finish the deal. That team eventually became the Phoenix Suns.

As we all know now, the Ewing trade didn’t help any of the parties involved. Ewing never received his contract extension or played any meaningful playoff minutes in his final two seasons with the Sonics & Magic.

The Knicks perhaps wished they acquired Baker. Glen Rice never seemed to fit in New York and was dealt in the subsequent offseason. Luc Longley only played 25 games in New York before retiring due to a degenerative condition in his left ankle. Of the remaining potpourri of players acquired in the trade, only Travis Knight remained on the team past the 2000-01 season. He played minimal minutes in New York through the 2002-03 season before retiring from the NBA. The remaining players were waived shortly before the beginning of the 2000-01 season.

To add insult to injury, the Knicks did not capitalize on any of the draft picks acquired. The Knicks dealt both of their 1st round picks in separate deals to acquire Othella Harrington & Mark Jackson. Additionally, none of the 2nd round picks played in the NBA.

In hindsight, Ewing admitted he should not have requested a trade. He was better off finishing his career in NY after the 2000-01 season. Instead of acquiring albatross contracts, the Knicks could have let Ewing’s $18 million salary expire and acquire more premier free agents in the 2001 off-season. Perhaps the team would not have fallen in a cycle of failure and mediocrity

 

On This Date: The Knicks Re-Acquire Ray Williams

September 17th 1983: The New York Knicks re-acquire Ray Williams

The New York Knicks re-acquired their former 1st round pick Ray Williams via two separate trades. The Knicks first traded backup shooting guard Vince Taylor and a 1984 1st round pick to the Indiana Pacers for future Hawks GM Billy Knight. The Knicks subsequently traded Knight to the Kansas City Kings for Williams.

Unlike his first go-around with the Knicks, Williams played more of the shooting guard role alongside Rory Sparrow. The backcourt, alongside Bernard King, helped lead the Knicks to the playoffs. He only spent one season with the Knicks in his second go-around before joining the Boston Celtics for an NBA Finals run in 1985 and then a few more pit-stops with the Atlanta Hawks, San Antonio Spurs, and New Jersey Nets. He retired from the NBA in 1987.

Ray Williams was one of the more unheralded guards during the post-Clyde Frazier era. He was drafted 10th overall in 1977 as the replacement for Clyde. As a native of Mount Vernon, it was a great opportunity to shine at home. He showed a penchant for scoring nearly 20 points a game and averaged nearly 6 assists a game and more than 2 steals a game as the starting point guard. He split guard duties with Micheal “Sugar Ray” Richardson to temporarily become of the more potent backcourt duos in the NBA. Williams even became captain of the team in 1980.

Williams suffered many hardships, including homelessness and bankruptcy, after his NBA career ended. His life came full circle in 2010 when then-Mount Vernon Mayor Clinton Young Jr. connected with Williams to hire him as the city’s Recreation Specialist. His task was to rejuvenate the recreational activities provided to inspire the youth.

Though he passed away in 2013 due to colon cancer, his legacy still lives on in Knick history and in Mount Vernon.

 

 

 

 

On This Date: The Knicks sign Jarrett Jack

September 15th 2017: The New York Knicks sign Jarrett Jack

Days before the beginning of training camp, the Knicks signed Jarrett Jack as insurance at the point guard position. Along with Ramon Sessions, Jack was initially meant to mentor Knick rookie Frank Ntilikina.

While Jack served a great role as mentor, no one expected Jack to start 56 games. Ramon Sessions was the opening day starter, but was benched after only 3 games due to ineffectiveness. Jack became the starting point guard while Ntilikina cemented himself as his backup. The Knicks sat at a near .500 record with Jack as the starter through Christmas day.

The Knicks collapsed after Christmas due to Kristaps Porzingis’ annual post-Santa struggles1 and his season-ending ACL tear. After the All-Star break, the Knicks sat Jack to let Ntilikina and some of the new point guards develop and play.

On This Date: The Knicks acquire Tony Campbell

September 13th 1992: The New York Knicks acquire Tony Campbell

Fresh off Xavier McDaniel joining the Boston Celtics, The New York Knicks proceeded to fill the gaping hole at the small forward position when they acquired Tony Campbell from the Minnesota Timberwolves for a future 2nd round pick. Campbell previously played for coach Pat Riley during his time with the Los Angeles Lakers between 1987-89. Additionally, Campbell was also a native of New Jersey and got his wish to come play at home.

During his previous 3 seasons with the expansion Minnesota Timberwolves, Campbell showed an ability to get buckets and play both the shooting guard and small forward positions. Only 30 years old, Campbell was also another player in his prime who could have impact minutes with the team.

However, the Knicks made a subsequent move before training camp to acquire Charles Smith from the Los Angeles Clippers. The acquisition eventually forced Campbell out of the rotation early in the season. His minutes were cut from starter minutes to less than 20 minutes/game off the bench. He only played 2 playoff games with the Knicks during the 1993 playoff run.

The Knicks eventually traded Campbell to the Dallas Mavericks in the subsequent season for Derek Harper to shore up their point guard depth after Doc Rivers’ season-ending injury.

 

On This Date: The Knicks sign Ernie Grunfeld

September 10th 1982: The New York Knicks sign Ernie Grunfeld

The New York Knicks signed Ernie Grunfeld to a contract on this date. Grunfeld reunited with his former college teammate Bernard King.2 Grunfeld backed up King at the small forward for most of his tenure with the Knicks. Grunfeld spent his final season in the NBA alongside then-rookie Patrick Ewing.

After his NBA career ended, Grunfeld remained within the Knicks organization in various capacities. He first became the Knicks radio analyst for the MSG network between 1986-89. He then transitioned into an assistant coach on Stu Jackson’s bench (alongside future head coach Jeff Van Gundy) before moving up to the front office in the 1990-91 season.

He remained in the front office after the Knicks hired Dave Checketts in 1991. He eventually became the Knicks GM in 1993. During his tenure within the front office, the Knicks were perennial playoff contenders, including two NBA Finals runs in both 1994 and 1999.

However, the Grunfeld’s tenure with the Knicks took a turn for the worse with the 1998-99 lockout season. His long-simmering feud with Jeff Van Gundy came to a boil throughout the season. Van Gundy wasn’t happy with the departure of team veterans Charles Oakley & John Starks. Grunfeld acquired Marcus Camby & Latrell Sprewell before the season in the aftermath of the 1998 NBA Playoffs. Both the Indiana Pacers & Miami Heat showed Grunfeld that the Knicks needed to get more athletic at all positions in order to help Ewing get one more Finals run. Clearly, Van Gundy thought otherwise.

As expected, the 1998-99 lockout season got off on a rough note. Grunfeld & Van Gundy publicly disagreed on playing time with regards to Camby & Sprewell. Their feud became public as the team struggled to win games. Their disputes funneled into the press as each faction (Grunfeld, Van Gundy) used the various beat reporters (NY Times, NY Post, NY Daily News) to air their frustrations with each other.2

The disagreements angered and frustrated the new Knicks ownership. Then-vice chairman James Dolan & the late Marc Lustgarten gave Checketts an ultimatum to fire one of Grunfeld or Van Gundy. Checketts kept Van Gundy and Grunfeld’s time as a Knick executive ended.

Grunfeld immediately became the new Milwaukee Bucks GM for the 1999-2000 season. The Bucks made the playoffs for 3 of the 4 seasons under Grunfeld’s watch. They went to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2001, losing to the Philadelphia 76ers. Unfortunately, Grunfeld couldn’t propel the Bucks into a Finals contender and thus was let go after the 2002-03 season.

Grunfeld became the GM of the Washington Wizards beginning in 2003. He remained with the team until 2019. His tenure as Wizards GM was highly controversial. Despite various splashes over the years (Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler, John Wall, Bradley Beal, etc.), the team was largely mediocre during the Grunfeld era. His teams never propelled past the 2nd round of the NBA playoffs during his first 5 years as GM. Afterwards, there was a long spell of rebuilding between the end of the Gilbert Arenas era that ushered in a new core of John Wall, Bradley Beal, & Otto Porter.

Unfortunately, poor draft picks (Jan Vesely), general negligence of draft picks, and bad contracts (Ian Mahinmi, Andrew Nicholson) ruined the future of the new core. Grunfeld could never build a team around Wall & Beal that would help them reach the Eastern Conference Finals. The beginning of the end was the supermax given to John Wall. After John Wall’s devastating injury during the 2018-19 season, the Wizards went on a rebuilding mode. Out went Otto Porter and ultimately the Wizards finally fired Grunfeld after the season ended. For many Wizards fans, it was a long time coming.