On This Date: Happy Birthday Mardy Collins

August 4th 1984: Mardy Collins’ Birthday

Mardy Collins was born on this date. The New York Knicks used the 29th overall pick (acquired in the Malik Rose trade) in the 2006 NBA Draft to draft Collins. Outside of some moments in the end of the year, Collins is best known for his role in the infamous Knicks/Nuggets brawl. Collins was suspended 6 games for his role in the brawl.

The Knicks traded Collins in the 2008-09 season to the Los Angeles Clippers in a cap-saving deal that netted Tim Thomas and Cuttino Mobley. Collins spent most of the 2010s overseas. He most notably spent a season with SIG Strasbourg and was teammates with current Knick Frank Ntilikina.

On This Date: Knicks trade Sprewell for Van Horn

July 23rd 2003: The New York Knicks trade Latrell Sprewell for Keith Van Horn

After many months of speculation, the New York Knicks officially traded Latrell Sprewell in a four-team deal for Keith Van Horn. The 76ers traded Van Horn to the Knicks and received Glenn Robinson from the Atlanta Hawks. The Minnesota Timberwolves traded Terrell Brandon to the Hawks and acquired Spree in return.

Spree got on the bad side of James Dolan & Scott Layden during the end of his Knicks tenure. He infamously missed several media training sessions. Spree often angered coaches by arriving late to team shootarounds. The final straw came during the beginning of the 2002-03 training camp when Spree showed up with a broken hand due to a boating accident. The injury forced Spree to miss the first 8 games of the regular season. Spree averaged many career lows during the 2002-03 season. The Knicks’ pursuit for high character players led to Spree’s departure.

Ironically, Van Horn spent the preceding year with the Philadelphia 76ers. The 76ers originally drafted him, but traded him to the Nets in a draft-day deal for Tim Thomas. Van Horn had a relatively efficient year in his lone season with the 76ers even when averaging around 16 points/game. He spent most of his time playing power forward. The trade shifted him back to his natural position at small forward.

The biggest questions surrounding Van Horn related to his perceived softness and ability to handle the pressures of New York. While he had a productive half-season with the Knicks, he wasn’t truly able to answer both questions. New GM Isiah Thomas traded Van Horn to Milwaukee for Tim Thomas & Nazr Mohammed.

Spree instantly fit into a stacked Timberwolves roster featuring Kevin Garnett & Sam Cassell. Spree played all 82 games and averaged 17 points/game. He felt a major rejuvenation as he helped lead the Timberwolves to the Western Conference Finals. The WCF berth led Garnett to his first MVP award. Unfortunately, injuries in their backcourt to Cassell & Troy Hudson led to their defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers in 6.

Spree played 1 more season with the Timberwolves. Shortly after the 2004-05 season, Spree infamously rejected a 3 year $21 million extension because “he had a family to feed.” After the season ended, no NBA team offered Spree a contract and his basketball career ended.

On This Date: Larry Hughes propels Knicks to back-to-back victories

March 11th 2009: Larry Hughes helps Knicks achieve back-to-back victories

Recently acquired Larry Hughes came through in the clutch for the Knicks on back-to-back nights in the middle of a 5 game road stretch. Hughes scored 39 points in the previous night against the Milwaukee Bucks and hit the go-ahead basket to seal the victory. On this night – against the Detroit Pistons – , Hughes drew a clutch foul against Rip Hamilton behind the 3 point arc before the end of regulation. Hughes hit all three FTs to tie the game and send it to overtime. The Knicks defeated the Pistons in overtime 116-111. Hughes scored 22 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists in the victory.

The Knicks acquired Hughes at the trade deadline for Tim Thomas, Anthony Roberson, and the ever disappointing Jerome James. From a cap perspective, the trade didn’t change anything other than help the team acquire a veteran guard to provide additional depth on the team. Hughes remained with the team until the 2010 Trade Deadline where Hughes was sent to the Kings in the infamous 3-team Tracy McGrady deal.

On This Date: Knicks acquire Tim Thomas

February 15th 2004: Knicks acquire Tim Thomas & Nazr Mohammed 

Isiah Thomas decided to make some noise during All Star Weekend, despite having no All Stars, by acquiring Tim Thomas and Nazr Mohammed in a three-way trade with the Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks. The Knicks sent Keith Van Horn to the Milwaukee Bucks and Michael Doleac and a 2005 2nd round pick (Ronny Turiaf) to the Hawks. The deal was one of the final steps in unwinding the Scott Layden era.

Isiah Thomas publicly admitted in looking for players who were young, athletic, and exciting for fans. Thomas, then 26, originally hailed from Paterson, NJ and was an athletic wing that Isiah believed could blossom in New York. Mohammed, then 26, was more of an offensive threat that could complement Dikembe Mutombo in the center rotation.

Keith Van Horn never fully meshed during his short tenure in New York. Additionally, he had a long brewing feud with Stephon Marbury dating back to their days with the New Jersey Nets. Michael Doleac was just an adequate backup center during his 1+ years with the team.

Unfortunately, neither player had a long future with the team. Tim Thomas’ two years with the Knicks were largely forgettable outside of the “fugazy” moment during the 2004 NBA Playoffs against Kenyon Martin and a slick pass he received from Stephon Marbury:

Thomas was later dealt to the Bulls in the Eddy Curry trade and re-acquired for a short period in the 2008-09 season.

Nazr Mohammed was a serviceable starting center for the team before being dealt to the San Antonio Spurs for Malik Rose and two 1st round picks that turned out to become David Lee and Mardy Collins. Ironically, Mardy Collins was dealt in the 2008-09 season in the deal to re-acquire Tim Thomas.

On This Date: Knicks trade Jamal Crawford and Zach Randolph

November 21, 2008: The New York Knicks trade Jamal Crawford & Zach Randolph in separate deals with the Golden State Warriors & Los Angeles Clippers, respectively, for Al Harrington, Tim Thomas, and Cuttino Mobley.

On the road to the summer of LeBron, Knicks GM Donnie Walsh traded Jamal Crawford to the Golden State Warriors for Al Harrington. He subsequently traded Zach Randolph for Cuttino Mobley & Tim Thomas. The contracts acquired all expired before the start of 2010 Free Agency.

At the time of the trade, Jamal Crawford had a scorching start with the Knicks under the new Mike D’Antoni speedball offense.1 Through 11 games, he was making more than 3 threes per game, at a 46% clip. Zach Randolph also started the season on a hot start averaging more than 20 points and 12.5 rebounds per game.

Cuttino Mobley never played another game after the trade. Mobley initially failed his physical due to a pre-existing heart condition discovered by the Clippers. Walsh allowed the trade to go through because his priority was getting under the cap. After visiting various doctors, Mobley announced his retirement on December 11th 2008 due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

Tim Thomas rejoined the Knicks after spending less than 2 years with the Knicks earlier in the decade.  Thomas reunited with D’Antoni, whom he played under with the Phoenix Suns. Thomas mostly came off the bench and had his biggest highlight play when he dunked on Anthony Randolph.

Al Harrington returned home (Orange, NJ) after the trade to the Knicks. Harrington enjoyed moderate success with the Knicks both as a starter and a 6th man off the bench. The transition to the Knicks was pretty smooth as he was coming from a Nellie Ball offense that prioritized speed, small ball, and threes.  To Knick fans, Harrington had a fair share of nicknames2 and baffling decisions.  To be fair, he was quite productive under D’Antoni’s system and flipped his production into a generous 5 year contract with the Denver Nuggets in the summer of 2010.