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: Knicks acquire Derrick Rose

June 22nd 2016: The New York Knicks acquire Derrick Rose

In somewhat of a surprising move, the New York Knicks acquired Derrick Rose, Justin Holiday, and a 2017 2nd round draft pick from the Chicago Bulls for Robin Lopez, Jerian Grant, and Jose Calderon (later waived). The move was even more emotional and surprising for Rose, who learned about it while in Los Angeles filming a documentary.

Phil Jackson hurried the developmental process to try to win now at all costs during Carmelo Anthony’s final years of his prime. Acquiring Rose, while he 201 games over the previous 4 seasons, showed to be a harried attempt to do so. Despite being a shell of his MVP self, Rose still played 66 games during the 2015-16 season and was an upgrade to the Knicks point guard troupe that was significantly outmatched over the last several seasons.

Acquiring Rose meant sacrificing both Jerian Grant & Robin Lopez. Grant played 76 games in his rookie campaign and was under the impression to receive more minutes in his sophomore campaign. Unfortunately, Phil determined his acquisition, at the cost of Tim Hardaway Jr., to be a mistake. Lopez, who proved to be a decent value center in his only season with the Knicks, was a sacrifice required to send off Jose Calderon’s contract.

Looking back, the results of the deal were conflicting at best. Rose played 64 games and averaged 18 points/game, but was a sieve defensively and had several off-the-court incidents, including a rape investigation and going AWOL midyear, that were part of a multitude of distractions for the Knicks team. The acquisition of Rose pushed Phil to go all-out in making the playoffs. Unfortunately, due to trading Lopez, he subsequently signed Joakim Noah to a disastrous 4 year/$72 million contract that still hurts the Knicks to this date. Noah played all of 53 games with the Knicks and was most noted for fighting with Jeff Hornacek in practice.

The Knicks ultimately started the season around .500, but a chain of distractions and an unfortunate losing streak after Christmas derailed the roster. Phil Jackson sparred with Melo throughout the season while the latter continued to show the decline in his game. The Knicks only won 31 games and Melo, Phil, & Rose were all gone after the season. The Joakim Noah contract remains on the Knicks’ books for another two seasons.

Furthermore, Kristaps Porzingis voiced his displeasure with the Knicks by skipping out on the exit meeting after the season. His dissatisfaction was largely due to the controversy surrounding this team. Ultimately, Phil tried to trade him before the 2017 draft and was fired for doing so. Porzingis still held contempt for the organization until the infamous trade in February 2019.

For the few bright sides, Justin Holiday showed to be a consummate professional with the Knicks. Holiday averaged 7.7 points/game and played all 82 games. He left after the season to rejoin the Bulls. The 2017 2nd round pick became Damyean Dotson.

On This Date: Knicks win Double OT MLK thriller

January 18th 2016: The New York Knicks defeat the Philadelphia 76ers in a double overtime Martin Luther King Day thriller

The New York Knicks perhaps didn’t expect a MLK Day matinee against the five win Philadelphia 76ers to extend into double overtime. The Knicks held a 18 point lead in the 3rd quarter. However, the Philadelphia 76ers clawed back into the game, led by Ish Smith, Robert Covington & Nerlens Noel to tie the game and took a 96-93 lead with 3.4 seconds left in the 4th quarter.

Carmelo Anthony came to the rescue by connecting on a three pointer to tie the game. The game went into double overtime, but the Knicks, led by Langston Galloway and Robin Lopez, took charge in the period to get the 119-113 victory.

Melo played more than 49 minutes on a sore ankle, but had a respectable statline of 19 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists. He struggled from the field (7-28), but had the pivotal three before the end of regulation. Arron Afflalo led the Knicks with 25 points. Kristaps Porzingis had a double double with 16 points and 12 rebounds, but left the game in the 4th quarter with a right foot injury.

The win brought the Knicks to a 19-11 record on MLK Day.

On This Date: Knicks beat the Nets and Robin Lopez outduels his brother

December 4, 2015: In a battle of the Lopez brothers, Robin beats Brook as the New York Knicks beat the Brooklyn Nets 108-91 in MSG.

In an ESPN-televised broadcast1, the Knicks went on a three point barrage to beat the Nets in a wire-to-wire victory. The Knicks scored 42 points in the 1st quarter to build a 21 point lead that proved insurmountable to the Nets. The win put the Knicks at a 10-10 record to start the season.

Carmelo Anthony led the team with 28 points and 5 three pointers made. Kristaps Porzingis had a double double with 19 points, 3-4 from the three point arc, and 10 rebounds. Robin Lopez (RoLo) only scored 7 points, but had 3 blocks to beat his brother Brook (BroLo).  This was the first matchup of the Lopez rivalry in New York.

Contrary to popular thought, the Lopez brothers did not live together in their one shared season in New York. The issue was not between brothers, but rather their respective cats.

Kirsten Fleming of the New York Post documented the catfight during the 2015-16 season.  Fleming spoke to RoLo to discuss the genesis of the rivalry:

“Brook’s cat is very two-faced,” Robin tells The Post. “Everybody loves Brook’s cat. To everybody’s face, he’s such a nice cat. And it may sound like I’m joking, but I am dead serious. He acts like a lazy, sweet cat when everybody is looking. But when their heads turn, he’ll try to chase after [my cat] Edward. The second I lay eyes on him, he’ll act like, ‘I’m a cherub. I’m innocent.’ I’m not buying it.”

Clearly the cats had the utmost priority in their sibling rivalry.