The New York Knicks have a history of making very, very poor decisions. They’ve made many idiotic trades, most of which involved discarding young talent before even giving them a chance to blossom. The front office have also completely and blatantly overpaid players in free agency and have dealt countless draft picks as if they were nothing.
The hope associated with bringing in Phil Jackson as the President of Basketball Operations, or simply as the decision maker, was that he would not make the mistakes that the franchise had made in the past. Despite his best efforts, Jackson has, so far, followed suit.
Let’s take a look back at the WORST free agent signings in recent memory;
1999 – Andrew Lang – One-Year / $510,000
As you can clearly see this isn’t a poor signing pay wise but for the sake of the team it was incredibly bad and for the situation it was a horrid choice. Prior to signing with New York, Lang as a member of the Chicago Bulls, was the player who single-handedly caused orange and blue legend Patrick Ewing to suffer a devastating Achilles injury.
Image how Ewing felt when he must of gotten the call from management, “Hey Pat, we’ve got some great news… We’ve signed the guy who destroyed your Achilles last year! Have fun with him next year”.
In the Summer of ’99 the Knicks needed to add a big man to back up the Knicks all-time leading scorer, rebounder and shot blocker. So they decided to sign Lang, one of the worst, washed-up backup big men in the NBA. Great decision Scott Layden, said no one ever to this day.
2005 – Jerome James – Five-Year / $30 million
Welcome to the overpaying part of the segment. In 2005 Isiah Thomas signed the 280 pound James to a more than very generous deal. The thought process and thinking behind this offer is mind boggling.
After doing practically nothing for his for four and a half years in the NBA, James had 11 decent playoff games in 2005 and that led to Thomas believing that big James was ‘that guy’. I mean really… Come on… Who the hell offers a scrub six million a season for five years after 11 decent playoff games? Oh wait, the Knicks do!
James was with the Knicks for four season, the Knicks key signing in ’05 averaged a measly 2.5 points per game, 1.8 rebounds per game while 33% from the field. In his final two seasons, which totalled a whopping four games, James scored just 10 points. He was eventually traded to Chicago where James was then waived which brought an end to his career.
2005 – Eddy Curry – Six-Year / $60 million
The main thing that makes this signing absurd is the circumstances in which it took place. Curry was a solid big man for the Bulls but he was diagnosed with a heart condition which was quite serious and this made his contract uninsurable. This scared off many but the mastermind that Isiah Thomas was, swooped in and offered a long-term high paying contract.
Sure, Curry could put the ball in the hoop but he could not rebound nor could he defend nor could he stay fit and keep his weight under control and that is what ultimately led to his demise. Two and a half seasons into his deal Curry became injury prone and his weight skyrocketed as a result. From then on his production evaporated and tension was plentiful between himself and the team from this point on.
In the final two season of his deal, where Curry earned $20 million he played in a grand total of ten games in which he averaged three points and one rebound. With this signing it ultimately meant that Thomas signed a six million dollar backup center.
2007 – Jared Jeffries – Five-Year / $30 million
Isiah Thomas obviously never learned his lesson from the failure that was Jerome James. Two years later Thomas rediscovered his overspending ways as he threw a $30 million offer at Wizards’ restricted free agent Jared Jeffries.
It was common knowledge at the time that Washington didn’t plan of keeping of Jeffries around. An offer of as a little of $1.5-$2 million would have been more than enough to take Jeffries off the Wizards’ hands. That’s why it was another poor signing.
In his four seasons in Washington Jeffries averaged just over six points and five rebounds per game. It’s bewildering that Isaiah though that this production warranted six million big ones a season.
“What, do we give them one million per point or something?”. “I guess so”. – Knicks management
This ultimately sums up why Isiah Thomas is one of the worst general managers in the team’s history.
2010 – Amar’e Stoudemire – Five-Year / $100 million
Stoudemire was New York’s consolation prize in the summer of 2010 and as usual, they wildly overpaid for him. Other teams were offering Stoudemire three year deals valued at around $45-$55 million, and this was the case as Stoudemire had a history of injuries, and ones that had kept him out for extended periods of time.
However, after missing out on LeBron James and Chris Bosh New York went straight to Stoudemire. They offered a five year, $100 million deal in which they guaranteed all five seasons and included a fifth year player option valued of almost $22 million. It just confusing why you offer an injury prone big man who doesn’t play defense a max deal guaranteeing all five years. This huge salary did come back to haunt the Knicks in the coming seasons.
Stoudemire started off amazingly but by the end of year one he was being overrun by injuries and this run never ended. In 2012 “STAT” appeared in 47 games, 29 the following year, 65 the next and 36 out of a possible 53 prior to being bought out. He never lived up to the hype and fulfilled the need and his contract crippled the Knicks financially in the following years.
2012 – Steve Novak – Four-Year / $16 Million
“Novakian”e was a lights out shooter but was he worth $4 million a year, for four seasons after a decent half a season? Hell no! The overpaying trend continued here as well as well as the trend of overpaying role players.
Novak made a name for himself down the stretch of the 2011-12 season and the Knicks wanted him back but they did so in the wrong fashion. Rather than waiting for other offers to come in, Glen Grunwald offered a four-year / $16 million off the bat. No other teams came close to offer a deal as big as this.
Grunwald was lucky to be able to dispose of Novak and his big contract after a disappointing end to the Knicks great season. Toronto wanted nothing to do with Andrea Bargnani so Grunwald dealt Novak and two others with a first round draft pick for the injury prone big – another terrible move, but that another list for another day.
2000 – Allan Houston – 6 Years / $100 Million
2013 – J.R Smith – 3 Years / $19 Million
2014 – Carmelo Anthony – 5 Years / $124 Million