On This Date: Knicks sign Clarence Weatherspoon

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.

On This Date: The NBA Retires Nate Robinson’s Summer League jersey

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.

On This Date: Knicks decline to match Jackie Butler’s offer sheet

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.

On This Date: Knicks sign Jason Smith

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.

On This Date: Knicks don’t match Jeremy Lin’s offer sheet

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.

On This Date: Knicks sign Metta World Peace

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.

On This Date: Nate Robinson wins Summer League MVP

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.

On This Date: Knicks sign Allan Houston, Chris Childs, and trade for Larry Johnson

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.

On This Date: Knicks Re-Sign Melo to a 5 year Contract Extension

July 13th 2014: The New York Knicks re-sign Carmelo Anthony to a 5 year extension

The New York Knicks re-signed Carmelo Anthony to a 5 year extension worth $124 million contract that officially defined both Melo and Phil Jackson’s legacy with the organization. Melo came off a season where he averaged 27.4 points/game and a career high 8.1 rebounds/game in a career high 38.7 minutes/game. He also scored a Knick record 62 points against the Charlotte Bobcats.

When Phil Jackson joined the organization, one of the shared edicts between him and James Dolan was to bring a championship to New York. They both shared that it would be accomplished with Carmelo Anthony. While Melo temporarily pondered joining the Bulls and Lakers, he could not resist the 5 years and $124 million the Knicks offered him. Additionally, it was the addition of the no-trade clause that defined both Melo and Phil’s reputation with the organization.

Unfortunately, the contract proved to be a disaster for both the Knicks & Phil Jackson. Melo continued his scoring prowess with 24.2 points/game during the 2014-15 campaign, but knee soreness early on in the season eventually led to knee surgery shortly after the 2015 NBA All Star Game held in New York. To make things worse, Melo delayed the surgery beyond the All Star Game so that he could play in the game as a starter. That decision proved to be costly to Melo’s career.

Melo received another All Star starter berth during the 2015-16 season and averaged a career high 4.2 assists/game under the principles of the triangle offense. Unfortunately, the knee surgery limited a lot of Melo’s offensive touches to the perimeter. His ability to explode to the rim and get to the line were all but diminished.

Melo started the 2016-17 season with a 3rd head coach and another round of an overhauled roster. He came off 3 straight seasons where the Knicks missed the playoffs. With expectations to reach the playoffs high, the Knicks started the season at a near .500 record and within reach of the 8 seed. However, a public feud with Phil ultimately torpedoed the season and destroyed his relationship with the New York Knicks. This was the beginning of the end of Melo’s tenure in New York.

Months after Phil left the organization, the Knicks sought suitors for Melo. The no-trade clause severely limited their trading options as Melo desired to join a contender, particularly in Cleveland or Houston. The Knicks had the workings of a deal with the Rockets in early July, but called off the trade after Scott Perry joined the organization. Shortly before the beginning of training camp, Perry convinced Melo to accept a trade to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Knicks traded Melo 2 days before training camp to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott, and the 2018 Chicago Bulls 2nd round pick. The Knicks dealt McDermott at the trade deadline in a 3 team deal that netted Emmanuel Mudiay. The 2018 Bulls 2nd round pick became Mitchell Robinson.

Perhaps the shining point of Melo’s tenure in NY was being able to net Mitchell Robinson.

On This Date: Knicks sign Raymond Felton (the first time around)

July 12th 2010: The New York Knicks sign Raymond Felton to a two-year contract

The 2nd biggest splash for the New York Knicks in the 2010 NBA Free Agency was not LeBron James, but rather Raymond Felton. The Knicks signed him to a 2 year contract worth nearly $15 million. Felton was the top free agent point guard on the market. Felton, drafted 5th overall by the Bobcats in the 2005 NBA Draft, missed only 11 games during his first 5 years in the league. His best season with the Bobcats came in the 2007-08 season where he averaged 14.4 points/game and 7.4 assists/game. Larry Brown coached Felton in the previous 2 seasons, leading the Bobcats to the playoffs in the preceding year.

With the Knicks, Felton joined forces with Mike D’Antoni, who attempted to unleash his scoring and passing abilities in a fast-paced offense. Alongside Amare Stoudemire, Felton proved to be an adroit pick and roll partner. In his first season, Felton averaged a then career high 17.1 points/game and 9.0 assists/game in a career high 38.4 minutes/game.

The Knicks ultimately dealt Felton to the Denver Nuggets in the Carmelo Anthony trade. The team eventually re-acquired him in a sign-and-trade before the 2012-13 season, albeit at a lower contract value of 3 years/$10 million. Unfortunately, Felton’s production in his second roundabout with the team never matched his half-a-season performance under Mike D’Antoni.

On This Date: Knicks re-acquire Marcus Camby

July 11th 2012: The New York Knicks re-acquire Marcus Camby

The New York Knicks and Marcus Camby officially reunited on this date in a sign-and-trade deal with the Houston Rockets. In return for Camby, the Rockets received Toney Douglas, Josh Harrellson, Jerome Jordan, and two future 2nd round picks. The Knicks signed Camby to a 3 year contract worth $13.2 million

Camby re-joined the Knicks after the disastrous 2002 trade with the Denver Nuggets. After leaving the Knicks, Camby expressed frustration with both James Dolan and the Knicks medical staff. Camby’s issues with Dolan resulted from the implementation of his media policy in 2001. The issues with the medical staff dated from not properly diagnosing the various injuries during his tenure.

The Knicks continued their push to surround Carmelo Anthony with veterans. For some reason, that meant surrounding him with the oldest of oldest veterans possible. It meant giving 39 year old Jason Kidd a 3 year $9 million contract. It also meant reuniting Camby’s teammate Kurt Thomas with the organization. Giving a 38 year old Camby a $13 million contract seemed odd then and looks just as odd now. The contract is baffling despite Camby playing 59 of 66 games during the lockout 2011-12 season.

Although the veteran presence helped the Knicks win 54 games, the energy wasn’t sustainable through the playoffs. Many of those veterans, including Camby, couldn’t last the entire season. Camby only played 24 games during the regular season and was dealt after the season in the disastrous Andrea Bargnani trade.

As for the players dealt, only Douglas managed to play in the NBA after the trade. Douglas stayed in the NBA through the 2016-17 campaign. However, he never achieved some of the highs he reached while in New York.

On This Date: Knicks hire Stu Jackson as the next head coach

July 10th 1989: The New York Knicks pick Stu Jackson as the next head coach

Nearly 6 weeks after Rick Pitino left the New York Knicks to coach the University of Kentucky basketball team, the team decided to hire Stu Jackson as the next head coach. Jackson, then 33 years old, became the 2nd youngest NBA coach in history at the time. Jackson previously was an assistant coach for Pitino with the Knicks and at Providence College.

Jackson brought a slower pace of basketball compared to the bomb squad teams that Pitino employed. The pace of play was more half court oriented and didnt emphasize the three point shot.

Jackson was 45-37 in his first season and made it to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. However, the Knicks fired him in the next season after starting the year 7-8. Internal tensions with the coaching staff and various players led to his demise as the head coach.

On This Date: The Knicks sign-and-trade David Lee to the Golden State Warriors

July 9th 2010: The New York Knicks signed-and-traded David Lee to the Golden State Warriors

In response to the Amare Stoudemire signing, the New York Knicks signed and traded David Lee to the Golden State Warriors. In return, the Knicks received Anthony Randolph, Kelenna Azubuike, Ronny Turiaf, and a 2012 and 2013 2nd round pick. Lee signed a 6 year contract worth near $80 million.

Lee was a rare Knick that lasted through his original rookie contract and his qualifying offer. Lee made the NBA All Star Team in the prior season and proved to be a double double machine with the capability of hitting the midrange basket at ease. Ultimately, the Knicks’ pursuit of superstars made Lee expendable.

Lee had 4 solid seasons with the Warriors including an All Star berth in 2013. A strained left hamstring during the 2014-15 preseason completely changed the fortunes for the Warriors team. The injury opened up an opportunity for Draymond Green. After that, the rest was history. Lee won a championship in 2015, but spent his final 3 seasons between the Boston Celtics & San Antonio Spurs.

As for the Knicks acquired in the trade, Turiaf made an immediate impact as both a starter and as a backup center. Randolph played sparingly with the Knicks and Azubuike missed the entire season due to a knee injury he suffered in the previous season. He never played with the Knicks as the team waived him shortly after the trade deadline.

Randolph was sent to the Timberwolves as part of the Carmelo Anthony trade. The two 2nd round picks acquired went to the Denver Nuggets in the trade. The Knicks dealt Turiaf in the Tyson Chandler sign-and-trade.

On This Date: Amare Stoudemire agrees to join the Knicks

June 8th 2010: Amare Stoudemire agrees to sign with the New York Knicks

The Knicks are back! The 4 words that undeniably changed the trajectory of the Knicks franchise heading into the next decade. With the Knicks’ back against the wall in the LeBron James sweepstakes, the team agreed to a 5 year $99.7 million contract. The hope was that Amare would be the second piece needed to lure LeBron to NY. The Knicks spent basically two years doing whatever was possible from a salary cap perspective to lure LeBron. Unfortunately, the Knicks didn’t foresee the Miami Heat, who ended up freeing up enough space to team LeBron with Dwyane Wade & Chris Bosh.

The Phoenix Suns, then run by General Manager Steve Kerr, were hesitant to offer Amare a 5 year contract due to his previous knee issues from 2005. Kerr believed that there was a minimal shelf life for players that underwent microfracture surgeries like Amare did. Kerr also wanted to fully insure Amare’s contract. Donnie Walsh, on the other hand, didn’t find his knee issues to be much of an issue and gave him a full 5 year maximum contract uninsured.

At the same time, the Knicks spent 2 years dumping assets and salaries all for the pursuit of LeBron. Striking out on all the star free agents was not a good look for the franchise. The team needed to sell sponsorships and tickets. Amare could do that and, no offense, bringing back David Lee wasn’t the answer anymore.

As Kerr predicted, the Amare era didn’t last that long on the court. After having a near MVP first season with the Knicks, multiple injuries limited Amare to only 76 of a possible 148 games over the next 2 seasons. Back injuries first surfaced during the 2011 playoffs during a pregame dunk. He then suffered a bulging disk in his back during the lockout campaign that kept him out for almost a month. To add insult to injury, Amare injured his wrist after punching a fire extinguisher in the playoffs against the Miami Heat. A knee injury suffered in training camp eventually forced Amare to miss most of the 2012-13 season.

By the time the 2013-14 season began, Amare (at the age of 31) was essentially a shell of his former shelf. His presence as a dominating #1 or #2 option were long gone. He was not a 30+ minute player anymore. His offensive explosiveness was reduced to occasional dunks and the more routine midrange buckets. Although Amare played 65 games in the campaign, he was seen as an albatross as the Knicks missed the playoffs for the first time in his Knicks tenure.

The 2014-15 season proved to be a dumpster fire from the get-go. After the decision to tank early in January, Amare’s days with the Knicks were just about finished. The Knicks eventually bought him out well before the deadline for him to sign with a playoff contender. Amare signed with the Dallas Mavericks and played limited minutes with the team. He spent his final NBA season in his native state of Florida with the Miami Heat.

Amare left two lasting legacies with the Knicks: his MVP-esque season and Carmelo Anthony. Amare had an undeniably historic start with the Knicks. The streak of 30 point games electrified the Garden. Amare literally carried the team. He was also instrumental in convincing Carmelo Anthony to come home in New York, even if it meant trading most of the young assets and draft picks. With Melo, the Knicks reached the playoffs for 3 straight seasons, the first such-standing streak since the late 1990s.

However, Amare was never a true fit on the floor with Carmelo Anthony. Amare’s offensive game suffered as Melo’s prospered over time. The acquisition of Tyson Chandler also hurt Amare’s role on the team on both ends of the floors. In the end of the day, Amare did help bring the Knicks back to a level or relevance missing for nearly a decade.

On This Date: Knicks acquire Truck Robinson

July 7th 1982: The New York Knicks trade for Truck Robinson

The New York Knicks opened up their 1982 offseason by acquiring Truck Robinson in trade with the Phoenix Suns for Maurice Lucas.

Before joining the Knicks, Truck was known as one of the top forwards in the league. The combination of his strength and quickness allowed him to play both forward positions with ease. His ability to make jump shots allowed him to attack the paint with ferocity. He was a two-time NBA All Star, with the New Orleans Jazz & Phoenix Suns respectively.

His best season was in 1978 when he averaged 22.7 points/game and 15.7 rebounds/game. He was the NBA rebounding champion that season and also made the All-NBA First Team.

At the time of the trade, Robinson averaged 19.1 points/game and 9.7 rebounds/game with the Suns in the previous season. With the Suns, Robinson still had the onus of carrying the team offensively and defensively. New coach Hubie Brown anticipated Truck to be a versatile forward for the team.

With Bernard King on the roster, Hubie decided to reduce Truck’s role to prioritize defense over offense. Unfortunately, his entire game suffered as a result. Truck’s points and rebounds per game both significantly declined. He averaged a near career worst 9.5 points/game and 8.1 rebounds/game in his first full season with the Knicks. Fans complained that they had a “truck with four flat tires” and would deride him with chants of “Dump Truck.”

Truck played another full season with the Knicks before retiring at the end of the 1984-85 season after missing all but two games with a broken bone in his foot.

On This Date: The New York Knicks hire Don Nelson

July 6th 1995: The New York Knicks hire Don Nelson as their next head coach

Weeks after Pat Riley abruptly resigned, the Knicks went ahead to hire Don Nelson as their next head coach. Nelson came off a campaign where he resigned from the Warriors mid-season after starting the year 14-31. He spent much of the 1993-94 season embroiled in a conflict with their #1 pick Chris Webber.

Nelson sought to bring an uptempo pace to a Knick roster largely built in their halfcourt motions. The match was basically doomed from the start. Although starting the season on a high note, the Knicks hit a rough patch after the New Year. Tensions arose between Nelson, Patrick Ewing & John Starks.

Nelson de-emphasized Ewing’s role in the offense and made Anthony Mason the focal point. Although Mason had a then-career year with the Knicks showcasing his point forward abilities, Ewing was frustrated with his role on offense. Additionally, Nelson reduced Starks’ playing time for Hubert Davis.

The climax occurred when word got out that Nelson wanted the Knicks to trade Ewing in order to pursue Shaquille O’Neal in free agency. This point marked the beginning of the end of his coaching tenure with the organization.

The Knicks fired Nelson midseason after posting a 34-25 record. The conflicts proved to be too much to overcome. The Knicks appointed Jeff Van Gundy as the interim head coach. Van Gundy remained the head coach through the 2001-02 season. Additionally, Van Gundy retained Don Chaney, an original Nelson assistant, as his main assistant coach. Chaney took over as head coach in 2001 after Van Gundy abruptly resigned.

In hindsight, Nelson sought to implement a modern offense that teams would eventually replicate. However, the older personnel on the roster were not equipped to run his offense at the time.

On This Date: The Knicks agree to sign Kyle O’Quinn

July 5th 2015: The New York Knicks agree to sign Kyle O’Quinn

The Knicks agreed to bring Queens native Kyle O’Quinn home on a 4 year contract worth $16 million. It took a sign-and-trade to officially bring O’Quinn home. The Knicks sent cash and the right to swap a 2019 2nd round pick utilized in this past draft.

During his tenure with the Magic, O’Quinn proved to be an efficient backup center with a knack to pass the ball and defend his position. Phil Jackson especially envisioned his passing abilities when signing him to a contract.

One of O’Quinn’s motivations to come home was to be close to his family. Unfortunately, O’Quinn suffered tragedy shortly after his signing when his father passed away in an automobile crash.

O’Quinn had an okay first season, but it was largely clouded by the tragedy surrounding his father. He showed marked improvement in his 2nd season under new coach Jeff Hornacek. O’Quinn not only blocked more than 100 shots, but showcased some of his signature backdoor passes to the Knicks wings.

In the 2017-18 season, O’Quinn cemented a role as the Knicks’ primary backup center due to his defense. He posted career highs in nearly every category including points, FG%, rebounds, and assists.

In addition to his performance on the floor, O’Quinn proved to be an exemplary citizen off the court. He appeared at plenty of Knicks community events, G-League games, and even New York Liberty games. O’Quinn basked in being back home in New York and embraced the local basketball scene in any way possible.

After the 2017-18 season, O’Quinn opted out of his final season to sign a 1 year contract with the Indiana Pacers. Overall, this was probably one of Phil Jackson’s best acquisitions. I hope O’Quinn comes back home this season.

On This Date: Knicks agree to sign Brandon Jennings

July 4th 2016: The New York Knicks agree to sign Brandon Jennings to a contract

The Knicks completed their blockbuster 2016 offseason by signing Brandon Jennings to a 1 year $5 million contract using their midlevel exception. Jennings spent much of the previous season recovering from the Achilles injury he suffered during the 2014-15 campaign.

Jennings publicly desired to play in New York dating back to the 2009 NBA Draft. He expressed frustration after the Knicks didn’t draft him and often sought revenge whenever facing the team in Madison Square Garden.

Jennings entered the season as the team’s backup point guard. He occasionally dazzled the MSG crowd with his flashy passing. Unfortunately, his offensive and defensive abilities clearly didn’t recover from before the Achilles injury.

After desiring an opportunity to join a playoff contender, the Knicks waived Jennings before the March 1st deadline to sign Chasson Randle. Jennings subsequently signed with the Washington Wizards for the remainder of the season. Since that season, Jennings hopped between playing with the Milwaukee Bucks organization (both G-League and NBA), and overseas in China and Russia.

On This Date: Knicks agree to sign Robin Lopez

July 3rd 2015: The New York Knicks agree to sign Robin Lopez to a 4 year contract

The Knicks made their first big splash in the 2015 free agency by agreeing to sign Robin Lopez to a 4 year, $54 million contract. The Knicks went into free agency looking for a big man to complement both Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis. After striking out on Greg Monroe, the Knicks agreed to a contract with Lopez.

Lopez had a solid 2014-15 campaign with the Trailblazers even after missing 23 games with a broken hand. Lopez showed durability over the previous few seasons and proved to be a serviceable rotational player in the lineup.

Lopez played all 82 games for the Knicks and had a solid season with 10.3 ppg and 1.6 blocks/game in 27.1 minutes/game. Outside of his presence on the floor, Lopez showed to be a solid member in the Knicks community and was often a frequent target of the NBA mascots. Knicks fans learned a lot about his affinity for Disney and Star Wars.

Unfortunately, the Knicks only got 1 year out of Lopez. The team dealt Lopez to the Bulls in a package for Derrick Rose. Unfortunately, the trade forced the Knicks to sign Joakim Noah. The rest is history.

On This Date: The Knicks agree to sign Arron Afflalo

July 2nd 2015: The New York Knicks agree to sign Arron Afflalo to a 2 year $16 million contract

The Knicks agreed to sign Arron Afflalo to a 2 year $16 million contract. Afflalo reunited with Carmelo Anthony, whom he played with for 1.5 seasons in Denver. Afflalo spent the previous season with the Nuggets & Trailblazers.

Afflalo started the season on a slow note with a hamstring injury that sidelined him for the first 8 games of the season. He slotted into the starting SG position and had an overall decent season. For some bizarre reason, interim head coach Kurt Rambis decided to bench Afflalo in March to supposedly “provide offensive firepower” off the bench. With the Knicks’ season already on a downward spiral, the benching didn’t help.

After the season, Afflalo declined his $8 million player option. He made a smart gamble because he received a 2 year $25 million contract from the Sacramento Kings. The Kings waived him in the following offseason and he played a season with the Orlando Magic. He didn’t play in the NBA in the previous season.

On This Date: Knicks agree to sign Joakim Noah

July 1st 2016: The New York Knicks agree to sign Joakim Noah to a 4 year $72 million contract

The Knicks agreed to sign Joakim Noah to a 4 year $72 million contract in what now looks like one of the worst decisions in franchise history. Noah only played 25 games in the prior season after undergoing season-ending left shoulder surgery. However, Phil Jackson, alongside an endorsement from Derrick Rose, believed that Noah would return to his old self and that his defense and passing skills would be valuable in a Knicks offense that balanced principles of the triangle offense. Rose himself vouched for Noah to come home to reunite together after spending their entire careers together in Chicago.

Unfortunately, the reunion and overall tenure in New York turned out to be a disaster. Noah missed parts of the preseason with a nagging hamstring injury. Noah only played 46 games in his first season with the Knicks. He clearly lost a step or two on defense and lacked the fire and intensity he had while with the Bulls. Unfortunately, his season ended early with a knee surgery further compounded by a 20 game PED suspension and a subsequent rotator cuff surgery.

After beginning the 2017-18 season suspended, the Knicks tried to ease Noah into playing shape. However, the center position was occupied by Enes Kanter & Kyle O’Quinn. Willy Hernangomez already sat in the doghouse due to his poor defense. Noah only played 7 games before effectively ending his Knicks career after fighting with Jeff Hornacek in practice.

The Knicks stretched Noah’s contract before the beginning of the 2018-19 season officially ending his tenure with us. His impact still lasts as his contract has stretched through the 2021-22 season. Although the cap hit still remains on the books, the Knicks now become a team with cap space to sign 2 max free agents.

The main issue of the Noah signing was the contract. Many GMs failed to properly evaluate the free agent market and overestimated the potential of revenue sharing on the NBA salary cap. Many players received excessive contracts including Timofey Mozgov, Luol Deng, Noah, Ian Mahinmi, and Bismack Biyombo, amongst many others. The perspective was that the contract would represent a smaller % of the cap as the latter would eventually spike in the upcoming seasons. As of 2018-19, the cap % did not spike up to their initial expectations.

On This Date: The New York Knicks draft….. Frederic Weis?

June 30th 1999: The New York Knicks draft Frederic Weis

The New York Knicks did the unthinkable on this date and drafted Frederic Weis with the 15th overall pick. Players such as Ron Artest, James Posey, or even anyone else were still on the draft board. The pick made absolutely no sense to anyone but the INTERIM General Manager Ed Tapscott.

Tapscott believed the team needed to draft Patrick Ewing’s replacement. In doing so, he reached for Weis instead of taking a more impactful player in Artest or anyone else. Matter of fact, the Knicks could have drafted Jeff Foster and got a solid center in their rotation.

Instead, the Knicks chose Weis. Weis participated in Summer League, but went back to Europe after Jeff Van Gundy was very iffy on his prospects to play in the NBA. Weis re-appeared on the main scene in the 2000 Olympics where Vince Carter performed the “Dunk of Death” over his poor soul. Ultimately, Weis never recovered from that moment.

A combination of the factors above led to a serious bout of alcoholism and depression. It’s a generally sad tale of a foreign prospect who couldn’t live up to his expectations. As of 2015, Weis owned a tobacco store near his home in France.

As for Artest, his new Showtime documentary “Quiet Storm” perfectly explained why he wasn’t a Knick. According to Artest, he skipped a pre-draft workout with the Knicks after getting too drunk the night before. As another maligned former NY Knick and native New Yorker once put it, Artest was the original definition of being “too lit for NY.”

On This Date: Knicks draft Charlie Ward & Monty Williams

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.

On This Date: The 2005 NBA Draft

June 28th 2005: The New York Knicks 2005 NBA Draft – Channing Frye, Nate Robinson, David Lee

Isiah Thomas’ first draft with 1st round draft picks turned out to be quite a haul for the Knicks organization. With the 8th overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, the Knicks drafted Channing Frye out of Arizona. Frye was a relatively safe selection and filled an important need for the Knicks in the frontcourt. While Andrew Bynum & Danny Granger were both on the board, neither player warranted a selection in the top 8 picks before the draft.

The Knicks acquired the 21st overall pick from the Phoenix Suns on a draft day trade. The Knicks traded Kurt Thomas and the 54th overall pick (Dijon Thompson) to the Suns for Quentin Richardson & the 21st overall pick. The Knicks used the pick to select Nate Robinson. Robinson was a supreme athlete even though listed at below 5’9. He originally played football at Washington, but focused solely on basketball beginning his sophomore season. Richardson developed into a premiere three point shooter in his lone season in Phoenix, winning the three point competition and making 226 three point shots.

The Knicks acquired the 30th overall pick earlier in the year during a trade deadline trade with the San Antonio Spurs that also netted them Malik Rose. The Knicks used the pick to draft David Lee from Florida. Lee won the SEC’s men’s basketball tournament with Florida in his final season. Lee was an athletic forward who was also ambidextrous and could rebound with dexterity.

The three rooks provided the Knicks with a good return during their tenures. Frye had a successful rookie season, earning Rookie of the Month in November and earning a selection to the NBA All Rookie First Team. He suffered a season ending injury in March which cut his season short. Lee’s minutes were sporadic throughout the season, but he had a stretch of 13 starts between December and January. He became a double double threat during that short stretch. Robinson had more exciting stretches, but also showed inconsistency and immaturity during his rookie campaign with various locker room altercations. He did hit a game-winning three pointer against the Philadelphia 76ers after Thanksgiving. Additionally, Nate won the 2006 Slam Dunk Contest.

Quentin Richardson never regained his elite three point touch in Phoenix. As we learned later in a touching piece with the Players Tribune, Richardson’s brother was shot and killed in Chicago during his first season with the Knicks. The tragedy led to a bout of anger, depression, and binge drinking. His Knicks tenure was scarred by team dysfunction, injuries, and personal tragedies.

The Knicks dealt Frye to the Trailblazer on the 2007 NBA Draft. Lee & Robinson both remained with the team near the end of their first rookie contracts. Lee became a double double machine in his sophomore season and won the Rookie/Sophomore game MVP. Under Mike D’Antoni he became an All-Star in 2010. Robinson became into a scoring threat off the bench that excited fans with occasional in-game dunks. Under D’Antoni, Nate even became a 6th man of the year candidate after he averaged 17 points/game. Unfortunately, tensions with D’Antoni and overall immaturity led to his trade during the 2010 Trade Deadline.

On This Date: Bill Cartwright/Charles Oakley trade

June 27th 1988: The New York Knicks trade Bill Cartwright for Charles Oakley in a draft-day trade

The New York Knicks completed one of the more successful draft-day deals in franchise history when they traded Bill Cartwright to the Chicago Bulls for Charles Oakley and a 1st and 3rd round pick swap in the 1988 NBA Draft.

Cartwright largely felt out of place in New York as Patrick Ewing cemented his role as the franchise cornerstone at center. While Charles Oakley had dominant rebounding seasons with the Bulls, he was deemed expendable after the team drafted Horace Grant in the previous season. As the Knicks needed a true power forward and the Bulls needed a formidable center, this swap made perfect sense.

Additionally, the pick swap gave the Bulls the 11th pick and the Knicks the 19th pick. To further shore up the frontcourt, the Bulls drafted Will Perdue. The Knicks drafted Rod Strickland, despite having Rookie of the Year Mark Jackson as the team’s main point guard. Strickland was traded to the Spurs in his sophomore season after demanding a trade due to a lack of playing minutes.

Ultimately, the trade proved to be a win-win for both teams. Cartwright enjoyed several productive seasons with the Bulls including winning 3 championships during Jordan’s first three-peat. Oakley served as the Knicks’ power forward for 10 seasons and was the perfect frontcourt partner for Ewing. Some of his accomplishments included making an NBA All Star Game and earning a selection to the NBA All Defensive Team in 1994.