August 7th 2006: The New York Knicks sign Jared Jeffries
The Knicks signed Jared Jeffries to the mid-level exception of 5 years and $30 million. While Isiah Thomas clearly overpaid for Jeffries, he attempted to bring in a defensive and versatile presence to a roster that not only didn’t defend and was often one dimensional on both ends of the floor. Continue reading →
August 6th 2013: The New York Knicks sign Jeremy Tyler
After a nice summer league performance, the New York Knicks signed Jeremy Tyler to a training camp contract. However, Tyler underwent foot surgery a month later that would sideline him for 8-10 weeks. For some strange reason, the Knicks cut Tyler before the regular season started to keep Chris Smith, JR Smith’s brother, on the roster.
Fortunately, saner minds prevailed as the Knicks cut Smith and re-signed Tyler after the latter rehabilitated from his injury. Tyler played 41 games with the Knicks and hand some decent highlights with the team. Tyler played in Summer League in 2014, but was traded to the Sacramento Kings in a cap-clearing deal. Since the deal, Tyler spent his career on various teams overseas.
August 5th 2004: The New York Knicks acquire Jamal Crawford
The New York Knicks acquired Jamal Crawford in a sign-and-trade with the Chicago Bulls. The Knicks acquired 24 year old Crawford and Jerome “Junkyard Dog” Williams from the Bulls for Dikembe Mutombo, Othella Harrington, Frank Williams, and Cezary Trybanksi. Crawford signed a 7 year $56 million deal.
Crawford quickly inserted himself as the starting shooting guard alongside Stephon Marbury. While not the most efficient scorer, Crawford was a walking bucket with a penchant to hit 3s at a very high rate and a decent passing ability for a combo guard. Under Larry Brown, Crawford reverted into a 6th man role. While not fully comfortable in the role, Crawford foreshadowed his future in the league.
Despite the turmoil within the Knicks, Crawford had several highlight moments with the team including some game-winning baskets, a highlight self-pass and dunk, and a career high 52 points against the Miami Heat.
To clear up cap space for 2010, the Knicks traded Crawford to the Golden State Warriors for Al Harrington. Crawford cemented his role as a proficient 6th man and won the award 3 times. Over his entire NBA career, Crawford has built a reputation of being a great teammate and consummate professional.
Mardy Collins was born on this date. The New York Knicks used the 29th overall pick (acquired in the Malik Rose trade) in the 2006 NBA Draft to draft Collins. Outside of some moments in the end of the year, Collins is best known for his role in the infamous Knicks/Nuggets brawl. Collins was suspended 6 games for his role in the brawl.
The Knicks traded Collins in the 2008-09 season to the Los Angeles Clippers in a cap-saving deal that netted Tim Thomas and Cuttino Mobley. Collins spent most of the 2010s overseas. He most notably spent a season with SIG Strasbourg and was teammates with current Knick Frank Ntilikina.
The National Basketball League (NBL) merged with the Basketball Association of America (BAA) to form what is now the National Basketball Association (NBA). The NBL originally formed in 1937 and consisted of nearly 38 teams. The BAA consisted of 16 teams and formed in 1946.
Since the formation of the BAA, there was competition amongst leagues for both teams and players. One of the more notable players included George Mikan, who ended up playing in both leagues at different times. Unlike the NBL, the BAA was unique in that it presented an opportunity to play in larger arenas, including both the Boston Garden & Madison Square Garden. Coincidentally, the initial BAA franchises included the current day Boston Celtics & New York Knicks.
Due to cannibalized competition, both leagues met in New York City to finalize a merger. Many of the teams in the NBL folded or merged with existing teams in the BAA or NBL. Interestingly, 5 of the current teams in the NBA can directly trace their roots back to the NBL. For example, the Minneapolis Lakers migrated to the NBA from the NBL. The Lakers eventually moved to Los Angeles in 1958 and are well known as the Los Angeles Lakers. The Rochester Royals of the NBL are now known as the Sacramento Kings.
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.
August 1st 2016: The New York Knicks sign Ron Baker
The New York Knicks officially inked Ron “Ron Burgundy” Baker to a contract. Without a draft pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, Phil Jackson immediately invited Burgundy to the Summer League squad. The Knicks subsequently signed Baker to a non-guaranteed contract.
The Wichita State alum, and former teammate of Cleanthony Early, came into the league with a reputation as a tough defensive guard who could also hit the open 3. Burgundy was a combo guard who had PG skills. Despite being only 6’3, his 6’8 wingspan allowed him to defend taller guards and small forwards.
Baker made the Knicks opening night roster. He split his time between the Knicks roster and the G-League team. He played 52 NBA games in his rookie campaign and started 13 of those games after the Knicks waived Brandon Jennings & Derrick Rose suffered a season ending knee injury.
His rookie season led Steve Mills to give Baker a 2 year contract worth $8.9 million. Due to Mills’ other more infamous move that offseason1he who shall not be named Timmy, this contract went under the rug. This was one of the more questionable signings, but somewhat justifiable due to his defensive efforts.
Unfortunately, Baker’s 2017-18 was marred by multiple injuries. An ankle sprain kept him out of the beginning of the season. Additionally, Baker suffered a shoulder injury rehabilitating from his ankle sprain that would foreshadow his downfall later in the year. To add insult to injury, Burgundy was the victim of a nasty Anthony Davis poster that resulted in a fractured orbital bone. The final nail to the season was when he tore his right labrum diving for a loose ball against the Nets in January 2018. He missed the remainder of the season.
Due to the plethora of Knick guards on the roster, Baker received minimal playing time to start the 2018-19 season. The Knicks later waived him to create room to sign Allonzo Trier to an NBA contract. Baker later signed with the Wizards, but eventually underwent surgery again on his torn right labrum.
Burgundy recently signed with CSKA Moscow to regain footing in his young basketball career.
July 31st: Happy Birthday to our fellow former Knicks
Henry Akin was born on July 31st 1944. He played one season with the New York Knicks and averaged 3.8 points/game in 50 games. He subsequently was an inaugural member of the Seattle Supersonics franchise in the 1967-68 season. His most memorable moment as a Knick was making his first two buckets over Wilt Chamberlain in his first ever NBA game.
Kostas Papanikolaou was born on July 31st 1990. He was drafted in the 2nd round by the Knicks in the 2012 NBA Draft. However, his draft rights went to the Portland Trailblazers in a trade that netted Raymond Felton. He spent parts of 2 seasons with the Houston Rockets and Denver Nuggets.
Scott Brooks was born on July 31st 1965. After winning 2 championships with the Houston Rockets, Brooks joined the Knicks for the 1996-97 season. He spent most of the time on the bench and almost got cut when Walt “Clyde” Frazier considered a return to the franchise.2Kidding, April Fools!
July 30th 1991: The New York Knicks sign Anthony Mason
In a somewhat unheralded move at the time, the New York Knicks officially signed Anthony Mason to an NBA contract. Mason, later known simply as the original “Mase,” spent the summer of 1991 on the Knicks summer league roster. A native of Queens, Mase spent his first few post-collegiate years overseas in Turkey and Venezuela. In between those stints, he spent parts of 2 seasons with the Denver Nuggets, New Jersey Nets, and the Tulsa Fast Breakers of the Continental Basketball Association.
Before joining the Knicks, Mase was heralded for his talents in the frontcourt combined with a deft passing ability unseen in many big men. New Knicks coach Pat Riley inserted Mase into the 2nd unit where he helped cement the Knicks already strong frontcourt presence. His combination of toughness on both ends of the floor helped the Knicks reach the playoffs, including a finals run in 1994.
After Riley left, coach Don Nelson inserted Mase into the starting lineup. As a starter, Mase averaged career highs in all categories, with 14.6 points/game, 9.3 rebounds/game, and 4.4 assists/game. The latter showcased Mase’s skills as a point forward. It was a role that eventually became a part of the positionless basketball, highlighted by Draymond Green amongst others. Unfortunately, differences in coaching philosophies cut Nelson’s tenure short after less than 1 season with the Knicks.
After the 1996 season, a combination of off-court issues and a quest for more offensive firepower led the Knicks to trade Mase to the Charlotte Hornets for Larry Johnson. Mase harbored tensions towards the Knicks organization due to the trade. Mase displayed his point forward skills during his tenure with the Hornets and also earned an All-Star berth in 2001 with the Miami Heat after reuniting with Riley.
Mase eventually reconciled with the Knicks and was often seen courtside at games or chatting with several of the Knicks players during the years. Sadly, Mase passed away in 2015 due to congestive heart failure at the age of 48.
Sidney “Sonny” Hertzberg was born on this date in 1922. A Brookyln native, Hertzberg played college basketball with future Knick coach Red Holzman at the City College of New York. Sonny was part of the inaugural Knicks team in the 1946-47 season. He was the team captain and leading scorer with 8.7 points/game.
Sonny later joined the Washington Capitols, playing for future Celtics legend Red Auerbach. Similaryl, Hertzberg joined the Celtics and later retired in 1953.
After his basketball career, Sonny returned to the Knicks to become a scout and assistant coach. He spent 2 seasons on WPIX announcing Knicks games as a color commentator.
After his short broadcasting stint, Sonny pivoted into investment management. He rose up to the managing director title of the now defunct Bear Stearns. He retired from his position in 2003 before passing away in 2005 due to heart failure.
New York Knicks great Bill Bradley was born on July 28th 1943. After a touted collegiate career at Princeton, Bradley spent 6 months in the Air Force before joining the New York Knicks. Bradley spent his entire NBA career with the Knicks and won 2 championships along the way. The Knicks eventually retired his number.
After retirement, Bradley embarked on a successful political career. He spent 18 years in the US Senate representing the state of New Jersey.
July 27th 2005: The New York Knicks hire Larry Brown
In one of the more surprising, yet unsurprising heists in team history, the New York Knicks hired Larry Brown as the next head coach. Brown took the Detroit Pistons to two straight NBA Finals, winning a championship in 2004. Brown always dreamed to coach the Knicks and was allegedly lobbying for the position during the NBA Finals. Coming off a 33-49 season, Isiah Thomas and the Knicks management made a bold splash in offering Brown a 5 year contract worth $50 million.
The marriage was doomed from the start. Expectations to make the playoffs shattered early in the season. Brown publicly complained about his roster and retaliated with his multitude of starting lineups. The tensions between Brown, the players, and the front office became public very early. Brown simply sabotaged the season.
While many Larry Brown teams bottom out in their first season together, the Knicks presented a different scenario. Not only did the team bottom out, but did so in a way that simply embarrassed the franchise, fans, and the league. The Knicks bottomed out in a season where they did not have their own lottery pick. The season was an abject disaster.
Due to the nightmare of a season, the Knicks fired Brown after only one season. Brown filed a grievance against the Knicks, but ultimately settled for $28.5 million of the $50 million owed to him in total. To be quite honest, he did not deserve one penny more than the $10 million he earned during his lone season.
July 26th 2016: Amare Stoudemire retires a New York Knick
Amare Stoudemire officially signed a one-day contract with the New York Knicks to announce his retirement from the NBA. The Knicks originally signed Amare to a 5 year contract worth $100 million in 2010. He was the first superstar to join the Knicks in free agency ever.
Amare had a near-MVP start to his Knicks career. The acquisition of Carmelo Anthony mid-season allowed the Knicks to make the playoffs for the first time since 2004. However, injuries prevented the Knicks from realizing Amare’s true potential.
A nagging back injury limited Amare’s explosiveness during the lockout season. Despite making the playoffs once again, Stoudemire started showing signs of decline as a player. Knee injuries limited Stoudemire to 29 games during the 54 win campaign.
Stat returned to play 65 games during the 2013-14 season. While he showed some signs of his old self, he largely accepted a supporting role on the team, including coming off the bench. He averaged a career low 11.9 points/game.2Yes, Amare only averaged 8.7 points/game in the 3 games he played during the 2005-06 season, but I am not counting that year!
The 2014-15 season was a disaster for the Knicks. The team decided to buyout the remainder of Amare’s contract to allow him to join a playoff contender. He joined the Mavericks for the remainder of the season. His final season, 2015-16, came with Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat.
July 25th 2012: The New York Knicks sign Ronnie Brewer
The New York Knicks continued to add more defensive oriented pieces to the roster by signing Ronnie Brewer to a contract. Brewer played the previous 2 seasons with the Chicago Bulls and was part of coach Tom Thibodeau’s bench mob. At 6’7 with a long wingspan, the Knicks expected Brewer to provide a defensive identity off the bench.
Brewer started the season as the team’s starting small forward due to Amare Stoudemire’s knee injury. Ultimately, Iman Shumpert’s return from a torn ACL pushed Brewer out of the rotation. As the Knicks sought to shore up their frontcourt depth, the team traded Brewer mid-season to the Oklahoma City Thunder for a future 2nd round pick. The team used the spot to sign Kenyon Martin.
July 24th 2012: The New York Knicks sign Pablo Prigioni
In one of Kevin Wilson’s more successful international discoveries, the New York Knicks signed Argentinian point guard Pablo Prigioni to a contract. After starting his professional basketball career in Argentina, Prigioni spent more than a decade playing in Spain. More notably, he was the point guard on the Argentinian basketball, playing alongside the legend Manu Ginobili.
Prigioni’s veteran savviness was a major benefit to the Knick roster that eventually reached the Eastern Conference Semifinals for the first time since 2000. He was an unselfish player, often very reluctant to shoot a wide open shot to instead find a wide open player for an alley oop, breakaway dunk, or three point shot. When he did shoot the ball, he was quite proficient from 3. Knicks fans loved him more for being a pest on defense. He simply pickpocketed point guards when they least expected it. He was the master of stealing inbound passes.
The Knicks rewarded his savviness with a 3 year extension after the season. He played 1.5 more years with the Knicks before joining the Houston Rockets midway through the 2014-15 season. He finished his NBA career with the Los Angeles Clippers before returning to Baskonia to become a player/coach.
Prigioni is now an assistant coach for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
July 23rd 2003: The New York Knicks trade Latrell Sprewell for Keith Van Horn
After many months of speculation, the New York Knicks officially traded Latrell Sprewell in a four-team deal for Keith Van Horn. The 76ers traded Van Horn to the Knicks and received Glenn Robinson from the Atlanta Hawks. The Minnesota Timberwolves traded Terrell Brandon to the Hawks and acquired Spree in return.
Spree got on the bad side of James Dolan & Scott Layden during the end of his Knicks tenure. He infamously missed several media training sessions. Spree often angered coaches by arriving late to team shootarounds. The final straw came during the beginning of the 2002-03 training camp when Spree showed up with a broken hand due to a boating accident. The injury forced Spree to miss the first 8 games of the regular season. Spree averaged many career lows during the 2002-03 season. The Knicks’ pursuit for high character players led to Spree’s departure.
Ironically, Van Horn spent the preceding year with the Philadelphia 76ers. The 76ers originally drafted him, but traded him to the Nets in a draft-day deal for Tim Thomas. Van Horn had a relatively efficient year in his lone season with the 76ers even when averaging around 16 points/game. He spent most of his time playing power forward. The trade shifted him back to his natural position at small forward.
The biggest questions surrounding Van Horn related to his perceived softness and ability to handle the pressures of New York. While he had a productive half-season with the Knicks, he wasn’t truly able to answer both questions. New GM Isiah Thomas traded Van Horn to Milwaukee for Tim Thomas & Nazr Mohammed.
Spree instantly fit into a stacked Timberwolves roster featuring Kevin Garnett & Sam Cassell. Spree played all 82 games and averaged 17 points/game. He felt a major rejuvenation as he helped lead the Timberwolves to the Western Conference Finals. The WCF berth led Garnett to his first MVP award. Unfortunately, injuries in their backcourt to Cassell & Troy Hudson led to their defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers in 6.
Spree played 1 more season with the Timberwolves. Shortly after the 2004-05 season, Spree infamously rejected a 3 year $21 million extension because “he had a family to feed.” After the season ended, no NBA team offered Spree a contract and his basketball career ended.
July 22nd 1972: The Knicks extend Red Holzman’s contract
Heading into the 1973 championship season, owner Ned Irish made sure Red Holzman continued to coach the Knicks. Irish signed Holzman to a 2 year extension of his original contract, which expired in 1973. Holzman continued to maintain the role of both coach and general manager. He is only one of two coaches in Knicks history that retained the role of both coach and GM (Isiah Thomas maintained both roles after Dolan fired Larry Brown in 2006). At the time, Holzman was the only coach that held both roles.
At the time, owner Ned Irish did not approve of Holzman holding both roles as coach and general manager. While some of the disagreements became public, Irish did not hesitate to extend the contract due to the team success under his tenure.
After signing the extension, the Knicks won the championship in 1973. Holzman lasted as coach until 1977 before reappearing with the Knicks after a year of hiatus. Red gave up his GM post in 1975 when Eddie Donovan rejoined the organization.
July 21st 2001: The New York Knicks sign Clarence Weatherspoon
The New York Knicks officially signed Clarence Weathersppon to a 5 year contract worth $27 million. The move was made in anticipation for Larry Johnson’s eventual retirement due to his chronic back injuries. Weathersppon started all 82 games for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the previous season and averaged 11.3 points/game and 9.7 rebounds/game.
Weatherspoon provided the same rebounding tenacity he brought throughout his prime, but mostly played a nondescript role on an aging, unathletic Knicks squad that missed the playoffs for the first time in nearly 15 years. The highlight of his Knick career was during Patrick Ewing’s jersey retirement when he grabbed a career high 24 rebounds.
The Knicks dealt Weatherspoon early in the 2003-04 season to the Houston Rockets for Moochie Norris.
July 20th 2008: The NBA retires Nate Robinson’s Summer League jersey
As a funny joke to Nate Robinson’s summer league prowess, the NBA decided to retire his jersey. He miraculously played in the Summer League every year during his 4 seasons in the NBA. He won the Summer League MVP in 2007 after leading the Knicks to an undefeated record.
During halftime of the Knicks/Timberwolves game, Nate’s Summer League jersey was put up into the rafters. It was one of the memorable moments in Vegas Summer League history. Unfortunately, a maintenance guy did not seem to have any fun and decided to remove his jersey the next day.
July 19th 2006: The New York Knicks decline to match Jackie Butler’s offer sheet
The New York Knicks declined to match Jackie Butler’s offer sheet after the San Antonio Spurs offered him a 3 year contract worth $7 million. Butler originally signed with the Knicks as a 19 year old shortly after the 2004-05 trade deadline. Butler played only 3 games that season. However, Butler received more minutes at backup center under coach Larry Brown. In 55 games, Butler averaged 5.3 points/game and 3.3 rebounds/game.
Butler was viewed as a promising prospect during his Knicks tenure. Both Brown & GM Isiah Thomas often referred to him as a bonus 1st round pick. He even received clutch minutes at the center position during close games.
However, the Spurs presented a lucrative offer sheet for Butler. The Knicks decided not to match the offer due to the glut of big men on the team. Although Butler won a ring with the Spurs in the 2006-07 season, he only played 11 games and didn’t contribute much. The Spurs traded him to the Houston Rockets in the next offseason and the latter waived him shortly before the beginning of the year.
Despite showing plenty of potential, Butler never panned out in the NBA after leaving the Knicks. Issues with conditioning plagued his tenure in San Antonio. He never seemed to play with much effort or desire. After being waived, he disappeared from the spotlight and it’s unknown whether he stepped foot on a basketball court again.
July 18th 2014: The New York Knicks sign Jason Smith
The New York Knicks shored up some of their frontcourt depth by signing Jason Smith to a one year contract. Smith came off a season where he missed most of the season due to right knee surgery. Despite the injury, Smith came to the Knicks with a reputation of being a physical player with a decent propensity to score from mid-range.
Despite the meager expectations, Smith somehow ended up playing all 82 games in the season. He started 31 of those games and averaged 8.0 points/game and 4.0 rebounds/game. Even though the Knicks dealt with a major collapse early on in the season, Smith continued to play and eventually showed consistent effort on both ends of the floor.
After the season, Smith left to join the Orlando Magic.
July 17th 2012: The New York Knicks do not match Jeremy Lin’s offer sheet
To the shock of many fans, the New York Knicks officially did not match Jeremy Lin’s offer sheet and thus allowed him to sign with the Houston Rockets. Lin originally signed an offer sheet worth 4 years and $28.9 million. The contract itself was guaranteed for $19 million. The Knicks previously proclaimed that they would match any offer sheet offered to Lin.
However, Rockets GM Daryl Morey added a poison pill into the contract. He revised the offer sheet to include a $15 million balloon salary in his 3rd year. Morey revised the contract to a 3 year $25 million deal. The $15 million contract. The third year of the contract would have cost the Knicks almost $40 million in luxury tax alone. After Morey revised the offer sheet, the Knicks felt hesitation in matching the contract.
At the same time, James Dolan felt betrayed that Lin and/or Morey went back to revise the contract. The lack of loyalty and trust definitely played a role in the aftermath of the offer sheet. The Knicks subsequently acquired Raymond Felton, officially putting Lin’s future with the team in jeopardy.
Due to the factors above, the Knicks didn’t match the Rockets’ offer sheet. Fans were clearly disappointed after witnessing Linsanity. In hindsight, it was the right move for the franchise. Lin only played one solid season during the contract (2012-13), but a propensity for turnovers and unease playing with both James Harden & Kobe Bryant demised him over the remainder of the deal.
July 16th 2013: The New York Knicks sign Metta World Peace
The player formerly known as Ron Artest returned home to New York on a 2 year minimum contract deal. Metta spent the previous 4 seasons with the Lakers and won a ring in 2010. The Lakers amnestied him shortly after the beginning of the 2013 Free Agency.
Most of the hype surrounding Metta was around the idea of returning home. At the outset, his quirky personality resonated amongst Knicks fans, beginning with an impromptu interview on MSG shortly after his signing in the Vegas Summer League.
His idiosyncrasies carried into training camp and the regular season with his funny interviews and media sessions. Unfortunately, Metta never got a fair shot with the Knicks. A combination of injuries and a downward spiraling record led to reduced minutes and frustration. In addition, Metta somewhat exposed the influence CAA had within the Knicks organization. As a result, the Knicks bought him out shortly after the trade deadline.
July 15th 2007: Nate Robinson wins the Vegas Summer League MVP
Although several Knicks rookies shined historically in the Vegas Summer League, it was Nate Robinson that redefined the thresholds of greatness in Sin City. After two relatively decent seasons in the NBA, Nate found motivation to continue to hone his skills in Vegas as he entered his third season. At the time, it was often rare to see 3rd year players return to Vegas barring a major injury or underachieving performance.
For Nate Rob, this was additional motivation. During the Knicks’ 5 game stretch in Vegas, Nate averaged 18.8 points/game and 6 assists/game on 48% from the field to win the Vegas Summer League MVP. He led the Knicks to a perfect 5-0 record in Vegas.
Nate took the Summer League energy to have a solid 3rd season in the NBA. He averaged 12.7 points/game mostly off the bench. He became a spark plug off the bench with Mike D’Antoni, averaging 17.2 points/game in the 2008-09 campaign.
July 14th 1996: The Knicks 1996 Free Agency: Allan Houston, Chris Childs, Allan Houston
In one day, the New York Knicks officially transformed their roster to make a final championship run during the final stretch of Patrick Ewing’s prime. The Knicks acquired 3 key pieces to their starting lineup, including a new backcourt. First, the Knicks signed Chris Childs to a 6 year $24 million contract. The Knicks announced that they signed Allan Houston to a 7 year $56 million contract. Finally, the Knicks acquired former #1 overall pick Larry Johnson from the Charlotte Hornets for Anthony Mason & Brad Lohaus.
Heading into the 1996 free agency, the Knicks’ main goals were to find a 2nd superstar to pair with Ewing or find a core of young players to provide more offensive firepower. The original tea leaves suggested the Knicks sought Reggie Miller & Michael Jordan, but neither option was plausible. The Knicks signed Childs, 28, after a solid sophomore season with the New Jersey Nets where he averaged 12.8 points/game and 7.0 assists/game. The Knicks appreciated his toughness and poise on both ends of the floor. Childs replaced the older Derek Harper and immediately cemented his spot as the starting point guard.
Houston, 25, was one of the top free agent shooting guards on the market. He came off a season where he averaged a then-high 19.7 points/game and 2.3 three pointers made/game. He was known as a sharpshooter with the Pistons and brought that same dexterity to a Knicks roster that needed more perimeter shooting. Houston joined Childs in the starting lineup.
The most controversial move was acquiring Johnson for Lohaus and Mason. Johnson, 27, was on a long-term contract with 7 years and $84 million remaining. He also suffered a back injury during the 1993-94 season that would later hamper him during his Knicks tenure. Mason represented the tough and gritty Knicks defense of the early 90s. However, the team sought more offensive firepower and felt Johnson provided it despite the back issues. Additionally, the team was probably frustrated with the various on and off-court issues that plagued Mason during his Knicks tenure. Johnson never regained the athletic touch and offensive firepower he had during his early Charlotte days. He instead reinvented his game to become more of a perimeter threat and a clutch performer, especially in the 1999 NBA Playoffs.