On This Date: Knicks draft Trevor Ariza

June 24th 2004: The New York Knicks draft Trevor Ariza with the 43rd pick in the 2004 NBA Draft

Isiah Thomas’ first draft pick as a Knicks executive turned out to be a gem in the big picture. The Knicks drafted Ariza in the 2nd round with the 43rd overall pick. Ariza was a freshman out of UCLA who was the 3rd youngest player in the draft ahead of Dwight Howard & Shaun Livingston. It was now assistant GM (and UCLA alum) Gerald Madkins that advised Isiah to draft Ariza in the 2nd round.

Ariza, while entering the league very raw and skinny, played 80 games and started 12 of them. He showcased a combination of athletic potential and defensive upside as a rookie. He often electrified the MSG crowd with his vicious dunks.

Unfortunately, Larry Brown got in the way of Ariza’s future in NY. After calling Ariza “delusional” after the latter questioned why he wasn’t in the team rotation. Eventually, Brown sought more more veterans and Isiah dealt him at the trade deadline for a near washed Steve Francis.

While Francis’ NBA career ended in 2008, Ariza went on to win an NBA championship with the Lakers in 2009 and became a solid role player in the NBA for various organizations including the Houston Rockets, New Orleans Pelicans, & Washington Wizards. This is the prime example Knicks fans use to why the team should exercise patience with young players.

On This Date: Knicks fire Larry Brown

June 23rd 2006: The New York Knicks fire Larry Brown

The New York Knicks fired Larry Brown, less than 1 year after signing a 5 year $50 million contract to coach the team. The team bottomed out to an embarrassing 23 wins amidst way more internal turmoil than victories.

The Larry Brown era was simply disastrous. The team gave Brown a $50 million to return home, less than 2 years after winning a championship with the Detroit Pistons. Brown privately lobbied to return home to New York while in the 2005 NBA Finals with the Detroit Pistons.

However, shortly into the regular season, Brown complained that the roster was not a fit for him. This wasn’t a new phenomenon with some of his previous stops. Brown would often bottom the team out as the front office eventually acquired players to fit into his offensive and defensive systems. The team would eventually turn around, win games and make the playoffs.

Unlike some of his previous stops, Brown publicly argued and embarrassed his players. The feuds embroiled the tabloids throughout the entire season. Stephon Marbury’s career was forever tarnished after the season. He even called sophomore Trevor Ariza “delusional.”

He came into odds with GM Isiah Thomas early on in the tenure. Brown wanted more veterans on the roster and Isiah stood pat only until the trade deadline. By that time, the Knicks were far out of the playoffs. Due to Brown’s requests, Isiah acquired Jalen Rose & traded Trevor Ariza for Steve Francis. The latter move was painful and short-sighted at the same time. Francis only lasted one more season with the Knicks while Ariza won a championship with the Lakers and remains a productive player in the NBA.

Near the end of the 2005-06 campaign, it looked like Brown publicly tried to sabotage the season. The 42 starting lineups was already strange, but Brown just embarrassed the Knicks organization with his public feuds. It left James Dolan with no choice but to fire Brown with 4 more years remaining on his contract. Fortunately, Dolan only had to pay Brown $18.5 million due to a settlement reached by both parties.

Brown has a reputation for leaving teams on a bad note. Like millennials today, Brown is quite nomadic in the coaching circles and organizations often got tired of his antics quickly.

After the firing, Dolan mandated Isiah Thomas to be the next head coach. He gave him the mandate to fix the team and show progress. For some crazy reason, Isiah got an extension in March 2007 and ended up coaching through the 2007-08 season before Donnie Walsh fired him.