On This Date: The Knicks sign Jeremy Tyler

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.

On This Date: Knicks end up with the 4th pick in the 2015 NBA Draft

damn…

May 19th 2015: Knicks end up with the 4th pick in the 2015 NBA Draft

After ending up with the 2nd worst record overall in the 2014-15 season, the worst record in franchise history, and only 1/2 game ahead of the Minnesota Timberwolves, the NBA Draft gods decided not to be nice and gave the Knicks the 4th overall pick in the NBA Draft. The crowd immediately showed disgust after deputy commissioner Mark Tatum displayed the Knicks envelope.

Immediately after the pick, Steve Mills showed a sign of disgust after realizing the team would be out of the Karl Anthony Towns sweepstakes. The Knicks did a relatively outstanding job shifting into rebuild mode early in January after their terrible start to the season. Out were JR Smith & Iman Shumpert and in came extended minutes for both Lance Thomas & Lou Amundson.

Unfortunately, a few too many clutch baskets from Tim Hardaway Jr. & Langston Galloway helped the Knicks avoid the worst record in the NBA. On the bright side, the Knicks drafted Kristaps Porzingis and the rest is history.

On This Date: The JR Smith & Steve Novak show

April 17th 2012: The JR Smith & Steve Novak show help defeat the Boston Celtics

In one of many fun games during the 2011-12 season, JR Smith & Steve Novak came off the bench to have a 3 point extravaganza. Smith & Novak combined for 50 points off the bench – and 15 combined threes – to defeat the Celtics at home 118-110 on TNT. JR & Novak formed a unconventional dynamic duo during their tenure with their penchants to hit threes.

In the 1st half, Novak hit 4 threes and JR hit all 7 of his threes in the 1st half. Both of them had an excellent two-man game where they fed each other passes to get wide open threes on the break. Most of JR’s 6 assists & Novak’s 2 assists were to each other for threes. TNT’s Kevin Harlan got into the excitement early in the 1st half with his call of the shots. One particular call was a JR Smith three where he said “he puts it in from Schenectady.” Novak also got into the fun with a 4 point play where he fell into Mike Woodson’s lap. He also brought out his signature “discount double check” celebration.

The Knicks led by 19 in the 1st half, but the game got tighter heading into the 4th quarter. Novak saved 4 of his 8 threes in the 4th quarter to help reclaim a comfortable lead. With the Knicks up 10 with less than 6 minutes left in the 4th, Novak hit a big 3 to put the Knicks up 13. In true wrestling fashion, he brought out the championship belt and Harlan proclaimed “put on the belt.” Novak was 8-10 from three for the game and didn’t miss any of his 4 threes in the 4th quarter. Those threes helped clinch the victory.

Lost in the three point shuffle was Carmelo Anthony’s triple double. Melo scored 35 points and had 12 rebounds and 10 assists. Ultimately it was the three point show that wowed Madison Square Garden on this night.

 

On This Date: Earl Barron has a career night

April 6th 2010: Earl Barron has a career night

In the waning moments of what the Knicks expected to be the last losing season before the Summer of LeBron, it was relative newcomer Earl Barron who had a night to remember. Barron had a double double with 17 points and 18 rebounds in the 104-101 victory against the Boston Celtics.

The Knicks signed Earl Barron to a contract for the remainder of the season to see what he could bring to the team. Barron last played significant minutes with the Miami Heat in the 2007-08 season before going overseas in Italy. In the 7 games he played with the Knicks, he had 4 double digit rebounding games, including this 18 rebound night. Barron would bounce around and play sporadic minutes with several teams before having a 2nd cup of coffee with the Knicks near the end of the 2012-13 season.


April 6th 2014: JR Smith sets Knick record for most 3s in a game

JR Smith breaks John Starks & Latrell Sprewell’s Knick record for the most 3s in a game. JR hit 10-22 from downtown to score 32 points. Unfortunately, the Knicks lost the game 102-91 on National TV.

On This Date: Knicks hire Phil Jackson

March 18th 2014: Knicks hire Phil Jackson as President of Basketball Operations

The Knicks brought back Phil Jackson into the organization as the new President of Basketball Operations on a 5 year $50 million contract. The Knicks previously courted him on several occasions (back in 1999 and 2005) to coach the team, but was rejected due to a myriad of reasons (mostly related to the fact that the team wasn’t as talented). Phil spent most of his playing career with the Knicks where he won 2 championships as a player.

Ever since the team relieved Glen Grunwald of his duties, James Dolan went into full pursuit to find a full-time President of Basketball Operations. Steve Mills returned to the organization to become the interim President of Basketball Operations. At the same time, Madison Square Garden recently acquired the Great Western Forum for the main purpose to renovate the arena to serve as an entertainment venue rivaling the nearby Staples Center.

Through the entertainment business and his own musical ambitions, Dolan maintained a long-standing friendship with Irving Azoff. In 2013, both Azoff and Dolan formed a joint venture – Azoff MSG Entertainment LLC – that served to fuel MSG Entertainment’s presence in the live event industries.

It was at one of Azoff’s parties in late 2013 where Dolan met Phil Jackson. Azoff setup the courtship beforehand to help broker the relationship. Phil advised Dolan on certain basketball transactions (including not trading anymore 1st round picks and nixing the Kyle Lowry/Iman Shumpert trade) over the course of the next few months. Things further progressed in March and the team finalized the hire on March 18th.

Phil Jackson’s hire brought massive expectations to the organization. Many expected the team to re-establish their winning culture and use the influence of Phil’s 11 rings to get back to the NBA Finals. Others expected the Knicks to bring back the triangle offense.

In the months after the hire, Phil had several looming questions to answer. After Phil fired Mike Woodson and traded both Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler, he was left with a major decision involving Carmelo Anthony. Melo unsurprisingly opted out of his contract at the end of the season. It was assumed that Dolan told Phil that Melo had to be a part of the long-term future of the organization. Therefore, Melo signed a 5 year $124 million extension with a no-trade clause.

Unfortunately, the Melo signing was one of many ill-fated decisions that destroyed Phil’s tenure with the team. Phil hired Derek Fisher with the intention to run the triangle offense. However, the team was not able to grasp the offense and immediately spiraled out of contention before the new year hit. Phil quickly went on a firesale and JR Smith, Iman Shumpert, and Amare Stoudemire were all gone from the team before the All Star Break. Additionally, Melo suffered knee soreness that required surgery. Due to his desire to play in the All Star Game, he postponed the surgery to after the ASB. The injury and surgery severely impacted Melo’s game to this date on both the offensive and defensive end.

Phil seemed to strike gold in the 2015 NBA Draft with the Kristaps Porzingis selection. However, Phil made a rash decision to fire Derek Fisher midway towards the 2015-16 season after only 1.5 years with the team. Phil later hired Jeff Hornacek as the new head coach.

Phil decided to embark on a win-now mission during the 2016 offseason and traded for Derrick Rose while signing Joakim Noah to a massive 4 year $72 million contract and Courtney Lee to a 4 year $50 million contract. The 2016-17 season also proved to be a mess, but it was mainly due to the fact that Phil publicly criticized Melo throughout the entire season. The side-effect to the Melo drama was that Kristaps Porzingis became disenchanted with the organization and decided to skip the exit meeting.

The final straw occurred during the 2017 NBA Draft where Phil tried to trade Porzingis to various teams and seriously considered to buyout Carmelo Anthony. Dolan rejected both ideas and ultimately both parties agreed to part ways. Phil’s last move was drafting both Frank Ntilikina and Damyean Dotson in the 2017 NBA Draft.

The remaining remnants of Phil’s tenure are Lance Thomas, Ntilikina, Dotson, and Joakim Noah’s contract that has been stretched until 2022. Phil did not trade any 1st round picks during his tenure, though he did give up several 2nd round picks in miscellaneous trades. Ultimately it seemed that Phil was never prepared to handle the responsibilities required to be President of Basketball Operations. His mindset was stuck on being a coach and that overshadowed what everyone else was doing within the organization. His public feud with Melo and the Noah free agent signing added dark stains to his professional legacy within the NBA.

On This Date: Knicks broke team record for most 3s made in a game

March 17th 2011: Knicks set record for most threes made in a game

On St. Patrick’s Day 2011, the Knicks broke a team record with 20 three pointers made in a 120-99 blowout victory against the Memphis Grizzlies at MSG. Leading the way for the Knicks was Toney Douglas, who led the Knicks with 29 points and 9 three pointers made. The 9 threes tied John Starks & Latrell Sprewell for most threes made in a game. JR Smith eventually broke the record 3 years later with 10 three pointers made.

The 20 team three pointers made broke the record of 19 set in the 2008-09 season ironically against the Memphis Grizzlies on the road. It’s not a coincidence that Mike D’Antoni coached both those teams as the Knicks emphasized high paced scoring and high volume threes.

To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, the Knicks wore green uniforms. The team eventually discontinued those uniforms after the 2011-12 season.

On This Date: Linsanity strikes against the Mavs

February 19th 2012: Linsanity strikes against the Dallas Mavericks in MSG

In one of the final games of the magical Linsanity run, Jeremy Lin scored 28 points and dished 14 assists in a 104-97 nationally televised thriller against the Dallas Mavericks. The Knicks started off the game on a torrid run where the team scored 17 straight points in the 1st quarter. Lin scored 10 of those points as the team took a 32-20 lead. However, the Mavericks bounced back and eventually took a 12 point lead by the 3rd quarter.

The Knicks bounced back with contributions from Lin and tough pressure to cut the deficit to three by the end of the 3rd quarter. In the 4th quarter, the Knicks were able to take the lead with the help of Steve Novak. Novak scored all 14 of his points in the quarter, connecting on 4 threes. By the time Novak hit his fourth trey, the Knicks went up by 6 and he pulled out the “discount double check” in delight of the MSG faithful.

Novak’s run helped fuel Jeremy Lin through the end of the game. After Novak hit the three, Lin hit a dagger 3 over Dirk to push the lead up to 9. Dallas did cut the lead to 3 with less than a minute to go, but a couple key defensive stops resulted in transition buckets for both JR Smith and Tyson Chandler helped seal the victory.

The game marked the NBA return for JR Smith as he flew into Madison Square Garden from China. JR scored 15 points and had 3 threes despite struggling from the field. Unfortunately, this game marked the end of Linsanity as Carmelo Anthony returned shortly after and the team spiraled into a tough losing stretch.

On This Date: Knicks sign JR Smith

February 17th 2012: Knicks sign JR Smith

Desperate for some offensive firepower off the bench, the Knicks signed JR Smith using a prorated portion of the mini-mid level exception. As his contract expired after the 2010-11 season, JR spent most of the lockout period and the beginning of the season playing in China with the Zhejiang Golden Bulls. He reportedly received more than $3 million playing in China during the lockout. While in China, JR had four 50-point games including a 60 point outburst on February 1, 2012.

JR Smith obviously had ties to the city and organization in various ways. Despite being portrayed as a villain in the infamous Nuggets/Knicks brawl, JR grew up in New Jersey and played High School in Newark, NJ. JR also played with Carmelo Anthony during his stint with the Denver Nuggets. JR’s agent, Leon Rose, was also Carmelo Anthony’s agent and had a multitude of ties within the organization via CAA.

With Melo and Baron Davis still sidelined with injuries, the Knicks lacked shot creators off the bench. JR initially became one of the team’s most dangerous 3-point threats off the bench. JR initially struggled at the outset, but picked up his production near the end of the season which coincided with Mike Woodson taking over the head coaching duties. He received more minutes during the 2012 playoffs due to injuries in the guard rotation, but significantly struggled from the offensive end.

JR eventually stayed with the Knicks until midway through the 2014-15 season. JR won the 6th man of the year award after the 2012-13 season. Unfortunately, erratic shooting and on and off-court antics plagued JR’s tenure, and overall career, with the Knicks.

On This Date: Knicks acquire Stephon Marbury, and eleven years later, trade away JR Smith

January 5, 2004: The New York Knicks acquire Stephon Marbury

In the first major transaction of the Isiah Thomas era, the Knicks acquired Stephon Marbury in a blockbuster trade with the Phoenix Suns. The trade included the following players/picks:

Suns Acquire:

Howard Eisley
Antonio McDyess
Maciej Lampe
Charlie Ward
Draft Rights to: Milos Vujanic
Knicks 2004 1st Round Pick (Kirk Synder)
Knicks 2010 1st Round Pick (Gordon Hayward)

Knicks Acquire:

Stephon Marbury
Penny Hardaway
Cezary Trybanksi

The trade brought Marbury near to where he grew up in Coney Island. Marbury always showed New York a lot of support and spent his summers playing in Rucker Park. He was a part of Fat Joe’s Terror Squad team and was supposed to play in the highly anticipated 2003 matchup against Jay-Z’s S. Carter team. Unfortunately, the game never happened because of the infamous Northeast blackout.1

From a basketball perspective, Marbury completely changed the composition of the team. For one, the Knicks finally found a star PG who was young (Marbury was 26 at the time of the end) and dynamic.

The Knicks were mired in mediocrity the previous few seasons due to a roster that lacked athleticism and youthful energy. Marbury immediately brought both into the fold. Isiah – a point guard himself – understood the importance of having a playmaker. He saw the Knicks manhandled by point guards such as Jason Kidd, Sam Cassell, and Jamal Crawford, and he knew a trade was necessary to reverse the fortunes of the team.

Penny Hardaway arrived in New York as a relic of his better days. He had a relatively productive first season with the Knicks as a bench player. Injuries sidelined him for most of the following two seasons before the team traded him to the Orlando Magic in 2006 for Steve Francis. Trybanski only played 3 games for the Knicks and the team traded him to the Bulls as part of the Jamal Crawford sign-and-trade.  

The trade, along with the Lenny Wilkens hire, amongst others, helped the Knicks win 39 games and make the playoffs as the 8th seed. Unfortunately, the playoff berth marked the high point of Marbury’s career. The culmination of losses, conflicts with coaches, and off-the-court scandals ruined Marbury’s tenure with the team. His support from the front office to fans to even beat reporters (Yes, Isola had a close relationship with him too) soured as his play suffered and his controversies represented his only highlights. The combination of the above led to his release in 2009.

In retrospect, the trade, at the time, was a necessary move to reverse the direction of the team. However, Isiah neglected to consider the importance of draft picks and roster construction around Marbury. The trade immediately added a significant amount of salary and restricted the Knicks from making any major moves in free agency. The Stephon Marbury era remains a disappointing moment in franchise history.


January 5, 2015: The JR Smith era ends

Phil Jackson continued the process to clean house by trading both JR Smith and Iman Shumpert in a three-way trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers & Oklahoma City Thunder. The Knicks received Lou Amundson, Lance Thomas, Alex Kirk, and the Cavs 2019 2nd round draft pick. JR Smith, Iman Shumpert, and the OKC 2016 1st round pick (Furkan Korkmaz) went to the Cavaliers. Dion Waiters went to the Thunder in the trade.

The trade helped the Knicks clear additional salary cap space while removing the team of players that didn’t fit with their future plans. JR Smith never meshed in the triangle offense and was largely a malcontent during his years with the Knicks. Iman Shumpert was on the last year of his rookie deal and injuries mostly hampered his production on the team.

Contrary to public opinion at the time, Lou Amundson & Lance Thomas did play a role on the team. While Phil immediately cut all three players acquired, he re-signed Lou & Lance to successive 10-day contracts and eventually for the remainder of the season. For a 17-win team, both players brought a level of professionalism, toughness, and ability to run the team’s offense. With a lot of younger players on the roster, especially after the Carmelo Anthony injury, these traits were integral to the team.

Both players served as mentors to our rookies, particularly to Kristaps Porzingis & Frank Ntilikina. The Knicks rewarded Lance – a NY native – with a 4-year, $27 million extension in 2016. While he’s probably well overpaid, the Knicks valued the intangibles he brought to the team. The players in the locker room view him as the de facto captain and he’s served the role well so far.

On This Date: The Chris Smith era ends

December 31, 2013: The New York Knicks waive Chris Smith

As perhaps an auspicious start to a new year, the Knicks waived Chris “Da Gawd” Smith, the brother of JR Smith, to re-sign Jeremy Tyler.

Da Gawd initially joined the Knicks 2012 Summer League team. The team gave him a training camp invite, but was cut before the season after suffering a season-ending left patella injury that required surgery.

Smith re-appeared on the 2013 Summer League team. The Knicks subsequently signed him to a contract that guaranteed him $490,000 if he was on the opening day roster. Because Jeremy Tyler underwent foot surgery before training camp, Smith made the roster and received his guaranteed salary. Tyler was cleared to play in December for the Erie Bayhawks, the Knicks D-League affiliate.

Da Gawd played all of 2 uneventful minutes with the Knicks. He hasn’t appeared in the NBA since and is currently a free agent. He last played for the Maccabi Kiryat Motzkin of the Liga Leumit. 

After the Knicks waived Chris Smith, JR Smith posted an instagram photo alluding to “betrayal:”

View this post on Instagram

#OnceAgain

A post shared by JR Smith (@teamswish) on

Fans, media, and players alike criticized the signing as a sign of nepotism. Additionally, the move reeked of a favor made to CAA, the agency that represented both the Smiths, Carmelo Anthony, Mike Woodson, and many members of the Knicks & MSG Sports. Brandon Jennings squabbled with JR Smith on Twitter about the signing. The NBA later fined JR $25,000 after sending a tweet threatening to send “street homies” to Detroit.

When JR Smith signed a 3-year, $18 million extension in the summer of 2013, it’s possible that one of the stipulations was to sign Chris to a contract. This was also part of a larger ploy to retain Carmelo Anthony in the summer of 2014. Both Melo & JR Smith are close friends dating back to their days with the Nuggets.

Although Melo re-signed with the Knicks, the CAA influence slowly dissipated. Metta World Peace alluded to many of the issues with CAA when he was cut in February 2014. Additionally, Phil Jackson slowly removed a lot of the CAA handlers and staffers associated within the organization.

Despite the vitriol against the Smiths, the one silver lining out of this ordeal was Chris Brickley. Brickley played a year of basketball with Chris Smith at Louisville under Rick Pitino. He eventually trained both of the Smiths over the next two seasons. With the recommendation of JR Smith & Rick Pitino, the Knicks hired Brickley in 2013 as a player development coach.

Brickley confided with Melo during his tenure with the organizations. His workouts with Melo became notorious on Instagram and sparked future workouts with NBA stars alike. Due to the increased popularity, the Knicks & Brickley mutually parted ways in 2017. For Brickley, this allowed him to expand his horizons beyond just the Knicks. For the Knicks, this allowed the team to keep some of their player development protocols in secret for purposes of competitive advantage.

Brickley later formed the BlackOps basketball training and workout program. He runs sessions during the offseason for high school, college and NBA players alike. The sessions include individual drills and scrimmages. 

Most of the sessions are held at Life Time Athletic at Sky, a gym designed by Melo that opened in 2016. Coincidentally, Kristaps Porzingis rents a few penthouses in Sky that gives him unlimited access to the Life Time Athletic health club and basketball court.

 

On This Date: JR Smith hits game-winner in Phoenix

December 26, 2012: JR Smith hits game-winning basket to stun the Phoenix Suns 

In what almost amounted to be a post-Christmas Day hangover, JR Smith helped the Knicks avoid a back-to-back disappointment with the game-winner. This was his 2nd game-winner after stunning the Charlotte Bobcats earlier in the month.

JR came off the bench to score 27 points in 37 minutes. Despite not hitting a three point shot, he had 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 5 steals. Jason Kidd scored 23 points, on 8-16 from the field and 5-8 from three, with 6 rebounds and 8 assists. Tyson Chandler had a double double with 14 points and 12 rebounds.  

The team was without both Carmelo Anthony & Raymond Felton. Melo missed the game with a hyperextended right knee he suffered when Marcus Camby fell on his leg during the Christmas Day game against the Lakers. Felton injured his finger going after a loose ball in the Lakers game and was subsequently out for the next 4-6 weeks.

After the Suns took a 2 point lead in the 1st quarter, the Knicks took a 10 point lead by halftime. Jared Dudley helped lead the Suns to tie the game after 3 quarters. JR and Kidd helped keep the Knicks in the 4th until the former hit the game winning basket at the buzzer.

On This Date: Knicks-Nuggets Brawl and Patrick Ewing becomes Knicks all-time leading scorer

December 16, 2006: The New York Knicks and Denver Nuggets engage in the worst brawl since the Malice in the Palace

A game that was seemingly heading into a blowout loss for the Knicks turned into one of the most infamous days in team history.  With 1:15 left in the game and the Nuggets up 19, Knick rookie Mardy Collins flagrantly fouled future Knicks JR Smith by the neck as he was driving to the hoop for a dunk.

Both players shoved each other and Nate Robinson further instigated the brawl by shoving and tackling JR Smith.  Various players went to separate both JR and Nate including Jared Jeffries and future Knick Carmelo Anthony.

Melo inexplicably decided to punch Mardy Collins and ran away from him as both Jared Jeffries & Collins both ran up to half court to confront him.  Unlike the Malice in the Palace, the altercation didn’t involve fan interaction.  However, the refs ejected all 10 players on the court in an unprecedented move.

In the aftermath of the brawl, Nate Robinson received a 10 game suspension for instigating the fight.  Mardy Collins received a 6 game suspension for the foul by the neck and Jared Jeffries received a 4 game suspension for chasing Carmelo Anthony.  Jerome James received a 1 game suspension for leaving the bench.

The NBA suspended Carmelo Anthony 15 games for reigniting the brawl with the punch.  The NBA suspended JR Smith 10 games for tussling with Nate Robinson.

Despite the player suspensions, the NBA decided not to suspend either Isiah Thomas or George Karl for their roles in the fight.  The NBA briefly investigated Isiah for a potential role in triggering the fight.  Isiah supposedly warned Melo not to go into the paint.  However, there wasn’t sufficient evidence to suspend him.  Several outlets also criticized Karl for leaving his star players in the game during a blowout.

This was one of the last significant brawls that involved multiple punches and lengthy suspensions.2  The melee further exposed the chaos around the Knicks and Nate Robinson’s relative lack of maturity that haunted him throughout his NBA career.  However, Carmelo Anthony & JR Smith faced significant repercussions after the brawl.  The brawl pained a negative image onto Melo and it took many years for him to shed that negative depiction of him.  For JR Smith, the brawl further cemented his reputation as a headcase in the league.


December 16th 1993:  Patrick Ewing becomes the Knicks All-Time Leading Scorer

Patrick Ewing had a double double with 27 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Knicks past the Los Angeles Lakers 108-85.  Ewing became the Knicks all-time leading scorer and past Walt “Clyde” Frazier’s record of 14,617 points.

Ewing ended up with 23,665 points as a New York Knick.  To put that number in perspective, Allan Houston scored 11,165 points in just over 8 seasons as a Knick.  Carmelo Anthony scored 10,186 points in nearly 6+ seasons as a Knick.

It’s fair to say that any current Knick would need to remain with the team for more than 15 years to come remotely close to reaching Ewing’s scoring record.