Over the past 15 years, the New York Knicks front office has been a high-priced circus with various characters leading the mockery by signing players no one else wanted and making trades that defied logic at times. The ceremonious induction and now-legendary wooing process of Phil Jackson by Knicks owner James Dolan was supposed to usher in a new Knicks era, where a combination of prosperity, bonafide star power, shrewd decision making and inspired play is the new philosophy.
And now rumor has it they want to sign Lamar Odom of Khloe Kardashian and more recently crackhead fame because of his familiarity with The Triangle Offense. I can’t believe the notion is anything more than a bored NY media trying to cook up some interesting Knicks nuggets. For starters, Jackson is not the head coach and we don’t know what the Knicks will look like one calendar year from today, so we definitely can’t predict what offensive set they will employ.
With all due respect to one of jumping Jamaica Queens’ finest ballers – LO is washed. He had his run in the Triangle and he is dealing with demons that have haunted him for most of his life. They have now manifested themselves in self-destructive behavior. He’s obviously lost the support systems that kept him grounded since marrying into the Kardashian Klan, and for the Knicks—with with their track record of recycling and rewarding BS—to enter into these waters with Phil Jackson now at the helm, is insane.
People want Jackson to be the savior, but not even he is a miracle worker. His mere presence won’t turn turkeys into titans. It’s going to take a few seasons to get the current Knicks culture re-directed and on a championship path. Ridding themselves of players who remind fans of past front office ineptness should be the first goal. NY fans are tired and weary.
It's not just the losing, but the ugly brand of ball that has desecrated the MSG floor in recent decades. More than being a champion, most Knicks fans just want to be respected again; respected for playing quality, competitive squads, and respected for having a front office that can put their superstars in a genuine winning position. Also, respected for having an owner that cares enough about the fans, to let basketball people make the basketball decisions.
With the arrival of Jackson, Knicks fans do have something to feel positive about. He is a winner at every level and a former Knicks champion. His authority and intellect will never be questioned by media or overzealous fans – at least not initially. It won’t be easy, but Phil has 11 c’hips that say GM is the next natural progression for his career. He has quite an extensive history of executive mishaps and mistakes to mend. It’s a history that dates back to before the mess that the new millennium brought us.
Trading Walt “Clyde” Frazier
The Knicks didn’t start making befuddling moves when Y2K hit. They traded Hall of Famer Walt “Clyde” Frazier on Oct. 7, 1977 at the age of 31 for Jim Cleamons. Cleamons was three years younger, but he never had the impact or captured the hearts of New Yorkers like current Knicks analyst Clyde, who still averaged 16 points and 4 assists in his first season with Cleveland. The fact that they let a Knicks icon retire to Cleveland in the first place makes you scratch your head. It reflects a personality trait of Knicks franchises, which are known to value other players more than their own. See Carmelo Anthony trade.
Trading Rod Strickland and Mark Jackson
At one point in the '90s, the Knicks had Rod Strickland and Mark Jackson in their backcourt. Instead of finding a coach who could make these basketball wizards co-exist, on February 21, 1990, NY traded Hot Rod to San Antonio for veteran Maurice Cheeks. Strickland had his personality issues, but NY is supposed to be built to deal with that. He went on to have a 17-year NBA career and retired as a respected floor general. After trading hometown hero Jackson to the Clippers on September 9, 1992 for all-time Knicks playoff loser Charles Smith, the Knicks were left with no superb, young point guards (and have been searching for a decent one ever since). To add insult to insanity, Jackson became an integral part of the Reggie Miller-led Indiana team that constantly daggered the Knicks, leading the Pacers to the Finals in 2000.
Scott Layden Era (1999-2003)
His pops has always been a fat and jolly coach. Out there in Utah, where cursing will get you 5 to 10, nobody took Frank Layden too serious. But in the big city, where media hunts failure like bloodhounds on the heels of a penitentiary escapee, son Scott bit off more than he could chew when he took the Knicks job during the 1999-2000 season and transformed the ruff-n-rugged Knicks into Utah Lite. He brought in bums with hefty contracts like Howard Eisley and Shannon Anderson in exchange for Glen Rice and Mugsy Bogues' contracts, which were significantly smaller. The Knicks got exponentially worse during his era as puppet master.
Layden’s other follies:
He catches flack for trading Pat Ewing and drafting Frederic Weis with the 15th pick of the 1999 NBA Draft over Queens legend Ron Artest (MWP) who went at No. 16, Andrei Kirilenko at No. 24, or Manu Ginobili at No. 57. That draft had better players in the second round too with James Posey (No. 18). Jeff Foster (No. 21). And Kenny Thomas (No. 22). Weiss was actually drafted by interim GM Ed Tapscott, but the pick fits in nicely with the carnage Layden left in his wake.
Weiss’ claim to fame is getting posterized by Vinsanity Carter.
The scraps Layden got in return for Pat was his bad, and instead of letting Ewing’s contract expire and giving him a proper send off, Layden brought in more debilitating contracts.
He was responsible for drafting Mike Sweetney, and two bum European players. Layden also thought it was a good idea to acquire Antonio McDyess in 2002, a season after the explosive forward ruptured his patella tendon. It was another move in what was becoming typical Knicks behavior – waste millions on a player that is a shell of his former self. In a preseason game versus the Suns, Antonio cracked his kneecap while landing after a dunk. He returned for the 2003-04 season, but was never the same. He battled several knee injuries and only played in 18 games for New York that year.
What’s the gut-wrenching, pie-in-your-face twist in this scenario? The Knicks traded Camby, drafted Nene and eventually got rid of him. Both players went on to be dope with Denver.
The Isiah Thomas Era was probably the lowest point in Knicks franchise history. Poor play, crippling deals, gross mismanagement, sexual harassment suits and salacious tales of star point guards getting it in with interns in cars.
Three Thomas signings in particular added to the Knicks' financial woes and inability to retain draft picks or get better:
Isiah’s most dubious signing (yes it gets worse), was the five years/$30 million contract he gave to Jerome James (2005-2009), an overrated and out of shape 30-year-old, 7-footer, following a flukish 2005 playoff run he had with the Seattle Supersonics. James was fat, flagrant and epitomized Isiah’s forgettable run as Knicks GM. He only played on 90 games with New York and did nothing on the court. At this point the Knicks were officially laughing stocks.
Isiah signed Jared Jeffries to a 5-year deal worth $30 million, which handcuffed the Knicks from making other necessary moves. It’s baffling because nobody outside of Thomas and D’Antoni thought Jeffries was anything more than a below average NBA ball player. Donnie Walsh shipped him off to Houston but had to throw in talented Jordan Hill and a 2009 first round pick in the process. Jeffries was booed unmercifully at times and never averaged more than four points and four boards in both stints in New York.
Eddy Curry is one of the biggest busts the league has ever seen. The talented big man just couldn’t get it together on–and-off the court. Isiah Thomas in his typically egotistical and destructive manner felt he could fix Curry and mortgaged the Knicks’ future on the center, trading Jermaine Jackson, Tim Thomas, Mike Sweetney, two unprotected first round picks, and two second round picks for Curry and Antonio Davis. Then he unfathomably signed Curry to a six-year/$60 million dollar deal. The two first-rounders they relinquished for the big stiff turned out to be LaMarcus Aldridge and Joakim Noah. Nuff said.
Curry showed flashes, but unfortunately he never gave NY much of this:
We can’t forget the litany of head-scratching coaching decisions from Larry Brown to Mike D’Antoni. Larry Brown won a c’hip coaching with Kansas and led a no-named Pistons team to the 2004 NBA title over The Shaq-N-Kobe Lake show, who were going for a three-peat. He was paid a whopping $50 million over five years to transform a dysfunctional Knicks squads – full of underachievers such as Stephon Marbury, Jerome James and Eddy Curry - into champions. Laughable, yes we know.
His arrival resulted in a franchise-worst 23-59 record and the hiring of Isaiah Thomas was the icing on the cake and the beginning of even worse times. D'Antoni was hired after the Thomas era by Donnie Walsh to run a team that was rebuilding on the fly. D’Antoni’s guard-heavy, free-wheeling, long-bombing Euro ball was supposed to make the Knicks a problem in the NBA. D’Antoni began the era of “wait until next year.” The offensive genius never figured out the defense part of the game and after an 8-16 start to the 2011-12 season followed by four straight losses right after the All-Star break, Mike was replaced by Mike Woodson. By then, D’Antoni didn’t have a friend in NY.
Ex Pacers GM Donnie Walsh was brought in to clean up Isiah’s mess, unload these wicked contracts and get them back into a financial position to acquire some real deal ballers through free agency.
In 2010, Amare Stoudamire was the big free agent fish after LeBron James basically told NY to “kick rocks” and he went to Miami to kick sand and win two titles. Amare got a sweet $100 million deal and initially rewarded Knicks fan with some stellar offensive play before injuries decimated his career and has relegated him to a part-time player. Knicks fans never got to see Melo and STAT terrorize defenses for any sustained period of time. More wasted chips.
After trading away the team and more of its future for Melo, the Knicks made another questionable investment.
For some reason the Knicks who were softer than a baby’s butt prior to Andrea Bargnani’s arrival, felt adding a 7-foot, jump shooting center/forward (I use that term lightly) would improve their chances of competing against Eastern Conference big dawgs. Getting rid of sharp-shooting three-point specialist Steve Novakane was just idiotic as well.
As fate would have it, Bargnani had a cup of coffee with the Knicks this season, before being sidelined indefinitely with a torn elbow ligament.
The final gut-wrenching, head-scratching executive order was when two months after it was revealed JR Smith had fluid buildup in his knee, and after Smith’s dismal performance in the 2014 playoffs, and his late night romps with Rihanna the day before crucial playoff games in 2013, the Knicks rewarded the social sinking ship with a three-year, $18 million contract. His clownish antics have continued this season and his play has been erratic. With Melo halfway out the door, Phil Jackson will start his new job with Smith as his greatest offensive weapon. Ouch!
Dolan’s Doom To Phil’s Winning Will?
Since James Dolan assumed ownership, the Knicks have been a doormat. They’re a conquered royal family scrounging for respect at the bottom of conference standings. They posted eight straight losing seasons from 2001-2002 to 2009-2010. They teased fans with an Atlantic Conference c'hip in 2013, but that followed a string of 13-straight playoff losses from April 29th 2001 to May 6th, 2012. The future is really all Knicks fans have.
Dolan was responsible for all of the aforementioned messes. On the bright side, Dolan’s finally admitted to the fact that he doesn’t know a thing about basketball and says he’s willing to let Phil Jackson do his thing. There’s nothing Knicks Nation can do to change the embarrassment and shock of the last 15 years, so it’s time to let go of the past and hope Action Jackson is on his job. I doubt his first major move includes Lamar Odom.