May 15, 2005: Waiving Jerome Williams instead of Allan Houston.
It was nicknamed the Allan Houston Rule, but for some reason the team cut Jerome Williams. A one time opportunity in the league’s CBA to waive a player and not have his contract count against the luxury tax. Many teams used this opportunity to unload an old player with a hefty contract. Rather than cutting ties with Houston, the Knicks decided to role the dice and hope he retires so they could collect insurance money on the contract. Houston retired and the Knicks collected insurance on the deal… but they still had to pay the luxury tax on Houston, costing the franchise millions.
August 7, 2006: Signed Jarred Jeffries as a free agent.
Jared Jeffries claim to fame will always be the run he and Mike Davis made with the Indiana Hoosiers to the Final Four. He was a serviceable player in his time in orange and blue, but Isiah Thomas signed him for far to much money and for far too long. He was suppose to be an athletic swing man who would play defense capable of locking down the opposition’s best scorer. He ended up being nothing more then a garbage man and another dead contract on the Knicks.
February 24, 2005: Traded Vin Baker, Moochie Norris and a 2006 2nd round draft pick (Steve Novak) for Maurice Taylor.
Yes the Knicks had both Vin Baker and Moochie Norris, neither one of them did much for the franchise but Isiah figured he would take two players who were past their prime with expiring contracts and turn that into an over-priced, undersized power forward in Mo Taylor. Taylor robbed the Knicks for over sixteen million dollars, not worth it considering he averaged six points and three rebounds in his time with the franchise.
August 5, 2004: Traded Othella Harrington, Dikembe Mutombo, Cezary Trybanski and Frank Williams to the Chicago Bulls for Jamal Crawford and Jerome Williams.
This was one of the first head scratching trades the Knicks made when Isiah took over. Yes both Crawford and the Junk Yard Dawg were talented but neither of them really gave the Knicks anything they didn’t already have and the deal was made with no regard to team chemistry. Crawford was, and still is, too small to be a two guard and doesn’t have the handle to be a one. Had Houston and Marbury worked out in the starting line up then MAYBE Crawford would have been winning the sixth man award in Manhattan, rather then in the ATL. But as NY Sports fans are well aware, it just wasn’t meant to be.
June 28, 2006: Drafting Renaldo Balkman over Rajon Rondo.
I always thought it was impossible to hate on Isiah’s draft record because for the most part he was superb and I will be the first to say that drafting is an inexact science. But in 2006 Thomas went into the draft wanting to pick up a point guard and a swing man. With the 20th and 29th pick it was expected that he wouldn’t exactly have his pick of the litter, but when it came to point guards he did. Isiah could have drafted Rondo or several other serviceable point guards like Jordan Farmar or Kyle Lowry; all three would have clearly been an up-grade to the roster. But he decided to go with the little known swing man from South Carolina in Balkman rather then the future all-star in Rondo. But hey, at least he picked up Mardy Collins with the 29th pick. Needless to say both Balkman and Collins didn’t last long at the Garden, and Rondo is setting records up in Bean Town.
June 28, 2007: Traded Steve Francis and Channing Frye to the Portland Trail Blazers for Dan Dickau, Fred Jones, and Zach Randolph.
As bad as a fit as Steve Francis was in the New York back court, Randolph was equally as dismal playing next to Eddy Curry. Frye has gone on to being a very solid player on a playoff team while Randolph only lasted fourteen months in New York before being dealt to the Clippers. Again Isiah Thomas failed to look at chemistry and just tried to acquire the best players on paper. But it was just another move that blew up in his face.
August 2, 2005: Signed Jerome James as a free agent.
I still don’t get it. Isiah just sat down one day, watched the Seattle Supersonics in the playoffs and saw Jerome James and figured he was worth $30 million over 5 years? In four years with the Knicks before being dealt to Chicago, James played in 89 regular season games and contributed nothing to the stat sheet. Not exactly worth all that cash for a man who couldn’t control his weight, let alone his temper or talent.
October 4, 2005: Traded Tim Thomas, Mike Sweetney, Jermaine Jackson, a 2006 1st round draft pick (LaMarcus Aldridge) a 2007 1st round draft pick (Joakim Noah), a 2007 2nd round draft pick (Kyrylo Fesnko) and a 2009 2nd round draft pick (Jon Brockman) for Eddy Curry, Antonio Davis and a 2007 1st round draft pick (Wilson Chandler).
Antonio Davis was very solid in New York and Wilson Chandler is putting together a nice career as a rotational player, but when you take into account what the Knicks gave up and how much money they gave to Curry and how little he has given back to the franchise, then you understand just how bad this deal was. Curry is basically useless in the up-tempo system that the Knicks play, and what makes this deal even worse is the two first round draft picks that New York gave up and who they could have been. The Knicks would have had the 2nd pick in 2006 and the 9th pick in 2007. The pick in 2006 could have been Aldridge, Brandon Roy or Rudy Gay, and the pick in 2007 would have probably been Noah… but it could have also been Spencer Hawes or Rajon Rondo. Instead of building a dynasty the Knicks are watching their draft picks turn into other team’s superstars.
February 22, 2006: Traded Anfernee Hardaway and Trevor Ariza to the Orlando Magic for Steve Francis.
Deals like this happen more in baseball than they do in the NBA. A team trades away a solid young prospect for an aging superstar past their prime and they live to regret it. Ariza had shown flashes of brilliance with the Knicks and since this trade he has started for three different teams and won a NBA championship. Penny Hardaway was useless as a player thanks to age and injuries but his expiring contract was viewed as gold by the Magic, and it should have been very valuable to the Knicks as well. Steve Francis and Stephon Marbury was an experimental back court that Larry Brown said may be crazy enough to work, but in reality it was just a pathetic attempt to create something out of nothing.
January 5, 2004: Traded Howard Eisley, Maciej Lampe, Antonio McDyess, Charlie Ward, Milos Vujanic, a 2004 1st round pick (Kirk Snyder) and a 2010 1st round draft pick (Gordan Hayward) to the Phoenix Suns for Stephon Marbury, Anfernee Hardaway and Cezary Trybanski.
This was the deal that started it all. So Phoenix made two errors in judgment signing Anferenee Hardaway and Stephon Marbury to long term deals. No way they could find somebody to take one of these contracts off of their hands, let alone both of them. Right? Wrong!
The best way I could describe this deal is the Knicks put a Band-Aid over a bullet wound. The Knicks had a bad team so they mortgaged their future for a shot in the dark with Stephon. The trade was so abysmal that it ended up still hurting the Knicks this last year when Utah got to make a pick with a draft choice that the Knicks dealt in this deal. Isiah and Steph appeared on the cover of ESPN the magazine with the caption “Can Steph and Isiah save the east?” Well the answer now, and always, will be, a large N-O!