On This Date: The New York Knicks acquire Antonio McDyess

June 26th 2002: The New York Knicks acquire Antonio McDyess on Draft Day

Fresh off their first season out of the playoffs, the New York Knicks were in a strange position: scouting potential lottery picks. The Knicks spent little to no time scouting 1st round picks over the past 10 seasons as the team played deep into the playoffs. Knicks GM Scott Layden, facing significant criticism from fans and analysts from his questionable signings, trades, etc., was in deep pressure to make a bold draft choice.

Hearing significant boos and “Fire Layden” chants on draft night, the Knicks drafted Maybyner “Nene” Hilario with the 7th pick. Fans immediately booed the pick as they expected anyone else including Chris Wilcox, Amare Stoudemire, UConn standout Caron Butler, and even Jared Jeffries at the minimum. Instead of dealing with the criticism of drafting Nene, Layden went even further and traded the pick.

The Knicks traded Nene, along with Mark Jackson & Marcus Camby, to the Denver Nuggets for Antonio McDyess, the 25th pick in the NBA Draft, and a 2003 2nd round pick. Layden orchestrated this trade simply because he thought this was the best chance to get back into the NBA playoffs. He thought McDyess would be that athletic frontcourt presence that would complement the Knicks core players. Camby came off a year where he only played in 29 games due to injury. Jackson, then 37 years old, was on the downside of his career.

The trade didn’t benefit the Knicks on any angle. The team had high hopes for McDyess entering the preseason. Fans thought he nearly regained most of his athleticism until he tore his patellar tendon after a putback dunk. McDyess missed the entire 2002-03 season and only played 18 games with the Knicks before the team dealt him to Phoenix for Stephon Marbury. Camby got over his injury woes to have a generally healthy and productive tenure with Denver. He was on the NBA All-Defensive teams from 2005-08, winning the NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2007. Nene’s had a productive career in the NBA as both a starting center and as a backup. He just came off a season as the backup center for the Houston Rockets.

The 25th overall draft pick in the 2002 NBA Draft became Frank Williams. After he played sparingly during his rookie season, he received decent minutes in his sophomore season and was slated to receive decent minutes as a backup PG until Isiah Thomas acquired Marbury. He was traded to the Bulls in the next season and left the NBA afterwards. The 2003 2nd round pick, however, became Maciej Lampe. Despite the cheers for the pick, Lampe turned out to be a bust in the NBA.

On This Date: Antonio McDyess makes his Knicks regular season debut and Stephon Marbury is banished from team

December 1, 2003: Antonio McDyess makes his Knicks regular season debut against the Detroit Pistons

Antonio McDyess finally made his Knicks regular season debut in a 79-78 overtime loss against the Detroit Pistons. McDyess was on a minutes restriction and only played 13 minutes. He had a meager statline of 2 points, 3 rebounds, 1 steal, and 1 block.

This game was 100 games into the making for McDyess. He missed the entire 2002-03 season with a broken kneecap suffered on a putback dunk in the preseason. The injury dampened the excitement heading into the season, especially after McDyess averaged more than 17 points and 13 rebounds in the preseason.1

The McDyess trade was largely meant to get the Knicks back into the playoffs and provide an athletic frontcourt presence to complement Latrell Sprewell & Allan Houston. The Knicks sorely lacked an athletic frontcourt presence that could score with explosiveness, rebound, and defend, perhaps dating back to Patrick Ewing before the wrist injuries. McDyess was expected to fill that gap.

Even though McDyess missed most of the 2001-02 season with knee surgeries, he looked healthy heading into the preseason and through half of the preseason before the injuries. The injury left the Knicks with a gaping hole in the frontcourt that badly needed a jolt of athleticism, interior scoring, and shot blocking. While Kurt Thomas played his part as the starting center, the loss of McDyess added an additional strain on Houston & Sprewell to provide the entire offense for the team.

McDyess only played 18 games with the Knicks in the 2003-04 season. He showed minor flashes of his fabled athleticism, but was largely a relic of what he once was.  Without Sprewell on the roster, traded for Keith Van Horn, the Knicks never got to fully realize the potential trio.  McDyess was subsequently traded to the Phoenix Suns for Stephon Marbury.

McDyess made the NBA Finals in the following season with the Detroit Pistons.2 He reinvented his game to rely less on athleticism and more on intellect and craftiness. Consequently, he was able to stay relatively healthy for the rest of his career, missing only 41 games over 7 years and even playing 82 games in consecutive seasons.


December 1, 2008: Stephon Marbury banished from Knicks

The Knicks officially told Stephon Marbury to stay away from the team, effectively banishing him and ending his Knicks tenure.

After coming to New York with fanfare and excitement, returning back to the city he grew up in, Marbury’s tenure as a Knick was unfortunately marred in chaos and losing. After making the playoffs in his first season, Marbury fell victim to the Knicks’ losing environment. He famously proclaimed he was the greatest point guard in the NBA in the 2004-05 season, before the Knicks’ record tanked and Lenny Wilkens concurrently resigned as head coach.

Marbury conflicted with most of his head coaches from Larry Brown to former friend, Isiah Thomas, to Mike D’Antoni. The Larry Brown saga led to the beginning of the end of Marbury’s dominance on the court. His on-court production declined and dropped to career lows in the 2007-08 season.

The 2007-08 season marked the first visible conflicts between Marbury & the Knicks. Marbury went AWOL earlier in the season and effectively ended his Knicks career in January 2008 after electing to have left ankle surgery without approval from the Knicks medical staff.

With the Mike D’Antoni hire and Marbury’s impending expiring contract, there was a great likelihood of Marbury never playing a game with the Knicks. Despite the rumors, Marbury did play well in the preseason. However, D’Antoni took Marbury out of the rotation to begin the season. The relationship became irreconcilable once Marbury refused to play in a game where the Knicks were severely undermanned following the Jamal Crawford & Zach Randolph trade.

The Knicks suspended him for a game and told him to stay away from the team on December 1st. He was later waived in February and joined the Boston Celtics to finish his NBA career. Despite the turmoil in the NBA, Marbury rejuvenated his career playing in China and will forever be known as a hero in the country after winning 3 championships in the Chinese Basketball Association.