On This Date: Knicks agree to sign Joakim Noah

July 1st 2016: The New York Knicks agree to sign Joakim Noah to a 4 year $72 million contract

The Knicks agreed to sign Joakim Noah to a 4 year $72 million contract in what now looks like one of the worst decisions in franchise history. Noah only played 25 games in the prior season after undergoing season-ending left shoulder surgery. However, Phil Jackson, alongside an endorsement from Derrick Rose, believed that Noah would return to his old self and that his defense and passing skills would be valuable in a Knicks offense that balanced principles of the triangle offense. Rose himself vouched for Noah to come home to reunite together after spending their entire careers together in Chicago.

Unfortunately, the reunion and overall tenure in New York turned out to be a disaster. Noah missed parts of the preseason with a nagging hamstring injury. Noah only played 46 games in his first season with the Knicks. He clearly lost a step or two on defense and lacked the fire and intensity he had while with the Bulls. Unfortunately, his season ended early with a knee surgery further compounded by a 20 game PED suspension and a subsequent rotator cuff surgery.

After beginning the 2017-18 season suspended, the Knicks tried to ease Noah into playing shape. However, the center position was occupied by Enes Kanter & Kyle O’Quinn. Willy Hernangomez already sat in the doghouse due to his poor defense. Noah only played 7 games before effectively ending his Knicks career after fighting with Jeff Hornacek in practice.

The Knicks stretched Noah’s contract before the beginning of the 2018-19 season officially ending his tenure with us. His impact still lasts as his contract has stretched through the 2021-22 season. Although the cap hit still remains on the books, the Knicks now become a team with cap space to sign 2 max free agents.

The main issue of the Noah signing was the contract. Many GMs failed to properly evaluate the free agent market and overestimated the potential of revenue sharing on the NBA salary cap. Many players received excessive contracts including Timofey Mozgov, Luol Deng, Noah, Ian Mahinmi, and Bismack Biyombo, amongst many others. The perspective was that the contract would represent a smaller % of the cap as the latter would eventually spike in the upcoming seasons. As of 2018-19, the cap % did not spike up to their initial expectations.

On This Date: The 2015 NBA Draft AKA we drafted Porzingis

June 25th 2015: The New York Knicks’ 2015 NBA Draft: Kristaps Porzingis, Jerian Grant, Willy Hernangomez

The 2015 NBA Draft was quite special to me for various reasons. The main one was that I personally attended the draft at the Barclays Center with my cousin. We initially enjoyed the draft selections from the top section of the Barclays Center with a bunch of crazed 76ers fans, Lakers fans, and Knicks fans. Additionally, we also scrolled on Twitter to see what Shams & Woj had to say.

After the Timberwolves drafted Karl Anthony Towns, the question was who would go 2 and 3. In a bit of a quagmire, D’Angelo Russell & Jahlil Okafor went 2 and 3. The question now was who should the Knicks pick.

Fans had various thoughts on the pick. Some wanted us to take Willie Cauley Stein. Others wanted Justise Winslow. Some wanted Kristaps Porzingis. A few stray fans shouted Emmanuel Mudiay to troll us.

Then Adam Silver came to the podium and he proclaimed that the Knicks selected…. Porzingis. The crowd booed and cheered, some in jest. ESPN showed us the crying Porzingis fan. Sadly, this fan got a lot of attention well past the draft for his attention-seeking antics. I was a bit unsure of the pick, but was encouraged by some of the initial reaction I saw online from different pundits.

Fast forward to past the lottery and Shams & Woj broke the first trade. The Knicks acquired the rights to Jerian Grant from the Atlanta Hawks. I was like “cool, we got a point guard that’s the son of Harvey Grant. Nice!” I later realized that we traded Tim Hardaway Jr. in the process. I didn’t know at the time he was at Clyde’s Wine and Dine for the Knicks draft party. That was pretty hilarious. We started the draft with only the #4 pick, but now had 2 first round picks.

After a quick break to grab drinks, security began to escort us to the lower bowl of the Barclays Center. After the lottery picks, many fans headed to the exits leaving the lower bowls largely empty. For TV reasons, they wanted us to fill out the lower bowl. While there, we encountered some interesting people, including the family of several draft selections. I personally saw Sam Dekker’s family as well as then-girlfriend Olivia Harlan.

After the 2nd round started, the Philadelphia 76ers drafted Guillermo “Willy” Hernangomez. However, Shams & Woj stated that the pick was traded to NY for two future 2nd round picks. That was pretty cool. I knew he played with Kristaps Porzingis in Sevilla, but that was about it. We ended the draft with 3 picks, so I was pretty pumped. This was a fun draft overall.

Unfortunately, none of the three players remain on the team. Each player departed in successive seasons. At least I have the memory of the draft.

On This Date: Knicks defeat the Spurs in Spree’s return to MSG

February 12th 2017: Latrell Sprewell and James Dolan bury the hatchet as the Knicks defeat the Spurs

The Knicks snapped a 4-game losing streak with a 94-90 victory against the San Antonio Spurs on a nationally televised broadcast. Carmelo Anthony led the way with 25 points (including 3 three-pointers), 7 rebounds, and 2 assists. Kristaps Porzingis scored 16 points and blocked 4 shots. Willy Hernangomez made his second start of the season and had 12 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 steals. Willy’s minutes increased steadily after a shoulder injury sidelined Noah for the remainder of the season.

Despite the victory, it off-the-court headlines dominated the story. Throughout the 2016-17 season, Phil Jackson sent veiled shots at Carmelo Anthony expressing disappointment that he’s not a “star” in the realm of a Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant. Days before the game, Phil sent a cryptic tweet aimed at Melo:

Additionally, Charles Oakley was arrested only a few days earlier after an altercation with security personnel during the Knicks/Clippers game. Oakley allegedly hurled some parting shots at James Dolan. Dolan subsequently alerted security to escort him out. Oak was subsequently banned from MSG for one year.

To quell the PR backlash, Dolan decided to reconcile with Latrell Sprewell and ended their 13+ year feud. Spree sat courtside with Dolan, Bernard King, and Larry Johnson. Since the moment, Spree has spent plenty of games courtside at Madison Square Garden and participated in various Knicks charitable causes.

On This Date: Knicks trade Willy Hernangomez

February 7th 2018:  The New York Knicks trade Willy Hernangomez to the Charlotte Hornets

The Knicks traded Willy Hernangomez to the Charlotte Hornets for Johnny O’Bryant and two 2nd round picks in 2020 and 2021. Willy requested a trade a few days earlier after being stuck on the bench behind both Enes Kanter and Kyle O’Quinn. To add insult to injury, the trade occurred only a day before Kristaps Porzingis, Willy’s friend dating back to the Sevilla days, tore his ACL. The Knicks immediately cut O’Bryant, who’s now playing for Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Euroleague.

After making the All-Rookie 1st team in the 2016-17 season, there was hope that Willy would become the starter for the Knicks. However, those plans derailed once the Knicks traded Carmelo Anthony for Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott, and the 2018 Bulls 2nd round pick that turned out to be Mitchell Robinson. Immediately after the trade, Willy had to compete with Enes Kanter & Kyle O’Quinn for minutes at the center position.

Unfortunately, Willy was not able to separate himself from Kanter to receive minutes. The Knicks valued Kyle O’Quinn’s defense to garner minutes regardless. Kanter, however, came into camp in the best shape of his life and showed to be a better offensive threat. Willy did not come into camp in tip-top shape.

Upon hearing of the trade, many fans had mixed reactions. Some thought that Hernangomez would have been an integral piece to our core and that we should have traded O’Quinn or Kanter instead. Others were more giddy about the 2nd round picks acquired and weren’t too high of Willy’s lack of defense and his trade request. (he was a backup after all)

In retrospect, this trade ended up as an overall win for the team. It’s far less likely that Willy will blossom the way Rod Strickland did when traded to the Spurs. Since he requested a trade, it gave the front office no choice but to trade him. For Steve Mills, it meant giving up on a player that he personally scouted when visiting Porzingis before the 2015 NBA Draft. The Knicks regained 2nd round picks in 2020 and 2021 that they ironically had given up to acquire Hernangomez in the 2015 NBA Draft.

Seeing a need at the center position, the Knicks drafted Mitchell Robinson who will likely have a higher ceiling and potential than Hernangomez. Willy’s received sproadic minutes in the 2018-19 season including several DNPs. He’s been decent on the offensive end, but inconsistent on defense.

On This Date: Day 2 of Linsanity and KP’s devastating ACL injury

February 6th 2012: Jeremy Lin makes his first start and helps beat the Utah Jazz

Day 2 of Linsanity gives Jeremy Lin his first career NBA start on way to a 99-88 Knicks victory. Lin put up 28 points, 7-9 from the free throw line, and 8 assists. He continued to dazzle fans with his uncanny ability to drive into the paint and make acrobatic layups. Near the end of the 4th quarter, Lin hit a three at the end of the shot clock and stuck his tongue out and gave us a signature wink.

One recipient of Lin’s 8 assists was Tyson Chandler. While Chandler continued to be a defensive presence, Lin rewarded him with scoring opportunities on the pick and roll. Another recipient was Steve “Discount Double Check” Novak. Novak received several passes from Lin that led to wide open threes. Novak scored 19 points off the bench on 5-8 shooting from three. Beginning with this game, Novak continued to receive consistent minutes off the bench and served as a major three-point threat.

The most important story outside the victory was the absence of both Carmelo Anthony & Amare Stoudemire. Melo only played 5 minutes before pulling his groin. The injury sidelined him for the next 7 games, which represented the entire tenure of Linsanity. Amare was away from the team following the death of his brother in a car crash.


February 6th 2018:  Kristaps Porzingis tears his ACL.

In what nobody knew would represent Kristaps Porzingis final game in New York, the 7′ 3″ unicorn tore his ACL after landing awkwardly following a dunk on Giannis¬†Antetokounmpo. Due to the graphic nature of the injury, we decided not to post the video. The dunk had put the Knicks ahead by a point. The injury itself put a damper on the game and the remainder of the season.

KP’s friend Willy Hernangomez witnessed the injury firsthand on the Knicks bench. The Knicks traded Willy the next day as part of a busy trade deadline that involved acquiring Emmanuel Mudiay.

The injury put the Knicks in position to refuse an extension offer to Porzingis in the offseason. Had he stayed healthy, it’s possible he would have tried to negotiate a designated rookie extension which would have allowed him to earn a higher percentage of the cap based on performance criteria.

Once it was clear he would miss most of the 2018-19 season, there was no way for him to meet any of the performance parameters that would lead to a higher salary, and therefore, the Knicks could theoretically offer him the same extension offer in 2019 as they could have in 2018. It therefore made sense for them to wait to see if he returned healthy and maintain cap space from his reduced cap hold. Whether this strategy frustrated Porzingis is yet to be fully reported. And whether the injury cast doubt on the Knicks willingness to offer him a max contract has also not yet been fully reported.

The Knicks traded Porzingis just before the one-year anniversary of the trade after he provided the front office with a 4-team list of teams where he preferred to be traded and threatened to rehab in Spain if not traded by the deadline. It appears that both sides were ready to move on, as the Knicks were considering offers for Porzingis before he officially made it clear that he wanted out of New York. Of course, it was no secret that Porzingis was unhappy, so the Knicks were not surprised by what they learned in the meeting requested by him and his brother before the trade.