On This Date: Melo’s 42 point playoff outburst against the Boston Celtics

April 19th 2011: Carmelo Anthony caries Knicks with 42 points in Game 2 loss

Without Chauncey Billups due to a knee injury and Amare Stoudemire in the 2nd half due to back spasms (after attempting dunks in practice), Carmelo Anthony single handedly willed the Knicks during this game. Melo scored 42 points and had 17 rebounds and 6 assists. He led the Knicks in just about every offensive category. However, it wasn’t enough to defeat the Boston Celtics as the Knicks lost 96-93.

In prime Melo fashion, he scored from all over the court. Whether it was in the paint, in the midrange (via his signature jab steps), or from the three point arc, Melo was proficient and neither Jeff Green or Paul Pierce could stop him alone. He kept the team in the game despite being severely outmanned by the defending Eastern Conference champions.

Ultimately, Kevin Garnett hit the go-ahead basket in the final seconds. Melo tried to feed the ball to Jared Jeffries after seeing a double team, but Jeffries fumbled the go-ahead pass and the Celtics stole the ball from him.

Melo’s performance in Game 2 made me wonder what happened if the NBA Lockout didn’t happen. Perhaps a proper offseason would have helped coach D’Antoni fully utilize Melo’s talents (especially on the passing end). We may have seen a souped up Olympic Melo, but that memory will only exist in our dreams.


April 19th 1996: Patrick Ewing records his only triple double

Patrick Ewing recorded his only triple double in his NBA career with 28 points, 15 rebounds, and 11 assists. Unfortunately, the Knicks lost to the Charlotte Hornets 115-108. The game was merely important for the Knicks to establish playoff seeding and home court advantage in the first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs. Future Knick Larry Johnson hurt the Knicks with 28 points and 18 rebounds.

 

On This Date: Mike D’Antoni resigns

March 14th 2012: Mike D’Antoni resigns

Mike D’Antoni resigned from the team on this date, days after the Knicks lost another close game on national TV on the road against the Chicago Bulls. D’Antoni, in the final year of his contract, was on the hotseat for most of the season. The NBA Lockout significantly reduced the amount of time D’Antoni could spend to create an offensive system and strengthen team chemistry. Because of the lockout, the team had little practice time and often had bouts of back-to-back-to-back games.

D’Antoni could never find a way to successfully mesh the trio of Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler. Melo & Amare in particular did not come into the season in great shape (due to the lockout) and D’Antoni was not able to find a way to build an offensive system that could take advantage of their strengths.

Additionally, the team lacked a point guard for most of the season. After the team amnestied Chauncey Billups, the team relied on Mike Bibby & Toney Douglas to reign in the point guard duties for the early stretch of the season. Both players struggled (for obvious reasons) and consequently led to Melo & Amare’s struggles.

Furthermore, the rise of Jeremy Lin added additional pressure on the team to mesh in the 2nd half of the season. Once Melo returned from injury, both he and Lin could not seem to complement each other and the team continued to lose games.

Most of the attention focused on the clash in styles between Carmelo Anthony & Mike D’Antoni. While neither of them had a public outburst, it seemed that there just was not enough time to successfully build proper synergy between the two of them. After the big trade in February 2011, the entire team basically flipped over and there just was not enough time to develop a system. D’Antoni had an uptempo offensive system while Melo preferred a system that favored more isolation-heavy options.

At the time of his resignation, the Knicks were 18-24 and just suffered a 6 game losing streak (their 2nd 6-game losing streak of the season). Mike Woodson took over interim duties and the team reverted more to an isolation-heavy offense with an emphasis on defense. The Knicks went 18-6 to end the season to reach the playoffs. The Heat defeated the Knicks in 5 games.


March 14th 1992: Dick McGuire’s jersey retired

Dick McGuire’s number 15 was retired for the 2nd time on this date. The Knicks previously retired the number in 1986 for Earl Monroe. McGuire spent more than 8 decades with the Knicks as a player, coach, scout, and team executive. He was responsible for discovering various draft picks, including the point guard duo of Mark Jackson and Rod Strickland.

 

On This Date: Mr Big Shot strikes in Miami and Ewing returns to MSG

February 27th 2011: Chauncey Billups strikes against the Miami Heat

Mr. Big Shot1 struck again, this time with the Knicks, on a 91-86 nationally televised victory against the Miami Heat in Florida.

Billups scored 16 points, but it was his clutch go-ahead three over Dwyane Wade with just over a minute remaining that made the difference in the Knicks thrilling victory. On the next possession, Billups stole a pass from Chris Bosh that led to two free throws for Shawne Williams.

This was a highly anticipated game after the Melo trade. Melo & LeBron went head-to-head the entire game; Melo led the way with 29 points and Bron scored 27. Amare Stoudemire had a double double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. He had the most pivotal play in the game with a game-saving block against LeBron to seal the victory.

The Knicks struggled in the outset trailing by 15 through the middle of the 2nd quarter. However, the team went on a 16-0 run to close the half with a 1 point lead. Billups contributed to 9 of the points with 2 threes and 1 assist during the run.


February 27th 2001: Patrick Ewing’s return to MSG

In one of the more awkward sights in Knicks history, Patrick Ewing returned to MSG wearing a Seattle Supersonics uniform. This was his first return to the Garden since the trade. Ewing scored 12 points in 32 minutes as the Knicks defeated the Sonics 101-92.

The Knicks gave Ewing a very nice tribute video thanking him for all his contributions and highlighted most of his accomplishments while with the team. The MSG faithful gave him a loud standing ovation as most of the fans and players on both teams stood and cheered for several minutes. One of those players was Ewing’s former battery mate Mark Jackson, recently acquired in a trade a week earlier. The MSG crowd chanted “Patrick Ewing” as well to much fanfare. Afterwards the MSG PA announcer introduced the Seattle Supersonics starting lineup. The PA announcer introduced Ewing first and the crowd roared. Watch more of the tribute below.

On This Date: Melo’s first game as a Knick

February 23rd 2011: Melo’s first game as a Knick

Carmelo Anthony’s first game in the Knick uniform was majestic. MSG network heavily promoted the game with a riveting commercial incorporating quotes from Melo stating how he was born in Brooklyn, NY and idolized Bernard King. The commercial used the intro from the song “I’m Coming Home” by Diddy (with the group Dirty Money) & Skylar Grey.

MSG decided to air the starting lineup featuring the commercial along with video clips of the current lineup. The end of the clips showed headshots of all the players, ending with Melo. For this game, the starting lineup entered from the hallway leading into the locker room. The Knicks PA announcer introduced Carmelo Anthony first. Melo received a huge applause from the fans.

As for the game, the Knicks beat the Bucks 114-108. While both Carmelo Anthony & Chauncey Billups struggled from the field, both scored 27 and 21 points respectively in their debuts. Melo had a double double with 10 rebounds and Billups had 8 assists and 6 rebounds. Amare Stoudemire mostly deferred to Melo in the game, but was able to score 19 points.

The Knicks were barely hovering above .500 before the trade. After being 7 games above .500 in early January, the Knicks went on a 6 game losing streak and largely struggled as the team faced various injuries (Gallinari) and fatigue. After the trade, the Knicks went through quite some difficulty integrating both Melo & Amare into D’Antoni’s system. It was tough at times because both Melo & Amare operated in the same areas on offense. Additionally, the Knicks went through a 6 game losing streak during the middle of March that seriously jeopardized their chances to make the playoffs. However, the Knicks went on a 7 game winning streak near the end of the season to push them to the playoffs.

On This Date: Knicks acquire Melo

February 22nd 2011: Carmelo Anthony finally traded to the Knicks

In one of the most anticlimactic deals of the 2011 trade deadline, the Knicks finally acquired Melo from the Denver Nuggets in what amounted to be a 3-team trade. The trade is broken down below:

Knicks traded:

Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Timofey Mozgov, Eddy Curry, Anthony Randolph, 2012 2nd round pick, 2013 2nd round pick, 2014 1st Round Pick, 2016 1st Round Pick Swap

Knicks acquired:

Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Renaldo Balkman, Corey Brewer (later waived), Anthony Carter, Sheldon Williams, 2016 1st round pick swap (Nuggets)

Nuggets traded:

Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Anthony Carter, Sheldon Williams, 2015 2nd round pick, 2016 1st round pick swap

Nuggets acquired:

Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Timofey Mozgov, 2012 2nd round pick (Knicks), 2013 2nd round pick (Knicks), 2014 1st round pick (Knicks), 2016 1st round pick swap (Knicks), Kosta Koufos

Timberwolves traded:

Corey Brewer, Kosta Koufos

Timberwolves acquired:

Eddy Curry, Anthony Randolph, 2015 2nd round pick (Nuggets)

This was a very large trade. After the Knicks lost out on LeBron James in the Summer of 2010, the team faced pressure to find a second star to team up with Amare Stoudemire to compete against the Miami Big 3. The Nuggets and Carmelo Anthony were also looking to separate as well. Melo proclaimed to his close friends, at his wedding, of his intentions to join the Knicks.

Donnie Walsh began engaging the Nuggets on various trade offers early on in the season. He was reluctant to give up significant assets for Melo because he assumed he could sign him outright in free agency. As the season progressed, the Nuggets felt a greater sense of urgency to deal Melo to acquire some long-term assets. Likewise, the Nuggets and Knicks were also aware of the impending lockout.

Melo was particularly interested in going to the Knicks before the lockout in order to lock in guaranteed money through an extension. If Melo waited until after the lockout, his market value could have decreased as well.

Heading into the All-Star Break, both Melo & the Nuggets were motivated to get the deal done. Donnie Walsh was also motivated to get the deal done, but was hesitant in giving up an exorbitant package. Melo eventually met with James Dolan during the All Star weekend to discuss the parameters of a trade. Dolan wanted to get a deal done; he was afraid of not capitalizing on the cap space generated from Donnie Walsh’s moves in the prior two seasons.

The deal finalized on February 22nd and ended up becoming a larger package due to the number of assets transferred between both teams. Melo fulfilled his dream to become a New York Knick.

While the package to acquire Melo was substantial, the trade benefitted the Knicks in the long run. Any trade package for Melo would require trading Gallo, who became a fan favorite in MSG. Both Melo & Gallo had a similar style of play. Additionally, Gallinari had several injury-laden seasons since the trade. Wilson Chandler was a free agent at the end of the season and would have to be included in any deal. Chauncey Billups eventually replaced Felton, who the team re-acquired two years later. The loss of Mozgov stung many Knick fans initially, but Tyson Chandler eventually soothed his departure over time.

The inclusion of multiple picks did sting for the franchise as the team reverted back to their losing ways in 2014. The team could have used those picks to accelerate the rebuild during those seasons. However, sacrificing those picks helped the team acquire Melo and fueled a stretch of three straight seasons in the playoffs during his 6+ year tenure. For a franchise that missed the playoffs in all, but one year since 2002, the fans were hungry to get back and compete with the behemoths in the Eastern Conference. Furthermore, the MSG faithful witnessed history with Melo’s 62 point performance in 2014.

The most controversial aspect of the Melo trade is the assertion that the team should have waited until free agency to acquire him. While that assertion sounds good in theory, it was simply not practical due to the impending lockout and the uncertainty surrounding whether they could make a deal work under the new rules.


February 22nd 2001:  Knicks re-acquire Mark Jackson

The Knicks re-acquired Mark Jackson on this date from the Toronto Raptors, along with Muggsy Bogues, for Chris Childs and a 2002 1st round pick (Kareem Rush). The team desperately needed an upgrade at the PG position and acquired Jackson to help the team get back into the playoffs. Jackson took over the starting PG role through the 2001-02 season before he was shipped to Denver in the Antonio McDyess trade.

On This Date: Knicks acquire Tyson Chandler in sign-and-trade

December 10, 2011:  Knicks acquire Tyson Chandler in a sign-and-trade with the Dallas Mavericks

The New York Knicks solidified their frontcourt defense by acquiring Tyson Chandler from the Dallas Mavericks in a three-team, sign-and-trade deal.  The deal was made in December, on the second day of the preseason, due to the NBA Lockout. Chandler agreed to a 4-year, $58 million contract with the Knicks.

In order to make the necessary cap space for the move, the Knicks used a one-time amnesty provision granted from the lockout on Chauncey Billups. While Chandler added a much-needed defensive presence to the Knicks, it was a curious move to amnesty Billups, only months after exercising his $14.2 million player option.

Donnie Walsh decided against buying out the point guard, who was acquired the previous February in the Carmelo Anthony trade. Walsh stepped down as general manager before the NBA lockout met a resolution. Glen Grunwald then decided to use the amnesty provision, which wasn’t available to Walsh, but could have been saved for Amare Stoudemire, on Billups.

In the transaction for Chandler, the Knicks traded Ronny Turiaf, acquired in the David Lee sign-and-trade deal, a 2013 2nd round pick, and cash considerations to the Washington Wizards. The team also traded Andy Rautins, drafted in the 2010 NBA Draft, to the Dallas Mavericks. The Knicks received the draft rights of Ahmad Nivins & Giorgos Printezis from the Mavericks. Nivins, a New Jersey native, spent his entire basketball career overseas and is currently a free agent. The Knicks still hold his draft rights. Printezis’ draft rights were later traded to the Portland Trailblazers in the Raymond Felton sign-and-trade deal. He is currently playing for Olympiacos in the Greek Basketball League.

The Knicks acquired Chandler to be the defensive cornerstone of a playoff team. Chandler came off a championship run with the Dallas Mavericks and was the anchor of the team’s defense. While the Knicks made the playoffs in the prior season, neither Chandler nor Anthony were great defenders or rebounders. Adding Chandler to the frontcourt gave Mike D’Antoni the defensive force to compete with the Miami Heat & Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference.

Chandler won the Defensive Player of the Year award in his first season with the Knicks.  He made the NBA All Star Team and NBA All-Defensive First Team in the following season.  A combination of a right knee injury suffered in a collision with Kemba Walker and an upper respiratory illness sidelined Chandler for a significant portion of the 2013-14 season and resulted in the fewest games played since the 2009-10 season.

Phil Jackson traded Chandler back to the Mavericks before the 2014 NBA Draft in his first major trade as President of Basketball Operations.  Knicks fans will always remember Tyson for his tenacious defense, alley-oop dunks, and his well-patented back-taps of offensive rebounds.