The New York Knicks were once one of the proudest franchises in the NBA. However, over the last 10 years, they have made mistake after mistake, whether it’s drafting the wrong players or hiring awful coaches. Bad decisions have left them looking up at the rest of the league in despair.
Heading into the 2019-20 NBA season, fans were wondering how can the franchise be fixed? To do so, the questions need to start at the top. Can the Knicks trust that owner James Dolan has their best interests at heart or is he just lining his pockets with cash? Is Mike Miller the right coach to lead the new-look Knicks?
Today, we’re taking a look a some of the mistakes the New York Knicks have made over the last decade.
The Knicks were swept by the Boston Celtics in the first round with the new duo of Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire, but more troubles would soon follow. That offseason, New York mostly stood pat, as it was a weak year for free agency. They did walk away with defensive ace Tyson Chandler, but not much else movement occurred.
The 2011 NBA Draft is where the Knicks really made their mistake. With the franchise believing they had secured a winning future, they gave the Denver Nuggets a large chunk of their own future in the trade for Anthony that February. It would later come back to bite them.
With the 17th overall pick, the Knicks chose Iman Shumpert instead of going with Tobias Harris, Reggie Jackson, Jimmy Butler, Chandler Parsons, or Isaiah Thomas. What could’ve been?
That year, Mike D’Antoni was fired and replaced by Mike Woodson. The Knicks did make the playoffs, but they fizzled out in the first round again, this time at the hands of the Miami Heat. During this season, the Knicks dealt with injuries, but their offseason was worse. Instead of landing a prominent point guard like Goran Dragic or Deron Williams, they signed 39-year old Jason Kidd.
Their draft was just as abysmal. Thanks to earlier trades, the Knicks went in with only one pick at 48th overall, selecting Kostas Papanikolaou. He never played a game for the franchise, going to Portland in a trade a few weeks later.
That offseason, the Knicks, high off a 50-win season, didn’t think they needed drastic changes. They made small moves, failing to address their lack of a true floor general. The 2013 NBA Draft didn’t offer too much excitement, but with the Knicks back in the first round, they took Tim Hardaway with the 24th pick.
This ended up being costly with Stoudemire’s injury issues growing rapidly. Sitting a few spots down from Hardaway was defensive ace, Rudy Gobert. Ouch.
This is the season where it all went downhill. One of the Knicks’ biggest mistakes was bringing in former Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers coaching legend Phil Jackson as their new Team President. While Jackson was a great X&O guy, laying the foundation of a roster was not his strong suit. For starters, the Knicks were in need of a new coach. With many active names out there, Jackson went looking for a former player instead of the best candidate.
Jackson ultimately brought in Derek Fisher instead of signing Mark Jackson. Jackson knew Fisher well, but Mark was the better choice.
The Knicks then continued to demonstrate their struggles evaluating talent. With the 34th pick and still in search of a true low post player, the Knicks selected Cleanthony Early when Nikola Jokic and Spencer Dinwiddie were still available.
The Knicks’ biggest mistake this season was just playing the year out. Injuries took away Carmelo, and Fisher failed to make progress. Then, during the offseason, the Knicks continued to let big-name free agents escape their grasp.
Instead of adding valuable pieces, the front office figured they still had a solid nucleus given a 50+ win season wasn’t all that far in the past. Robin Lopez was a good pickup, but the franchise needed more.
Kurt Rambis replaced Fisher in the middle of the season, rather than a coach with experience in rebuilding.
At this point, the Knicks knew they were in rebuild mode, but they refused to admit it to themselves. The roster was full of players who had no knowledge of what it takes to win as a team.
Trading away draft picks is part of the wheeling and dealing we see in the NBA all the time, and the Knicks didn’t worry that the Anthony trade would come back to bite them later on. But not having first-rounders forced New York to miss out on great talent during the draft and at the NBA trade deadline. They also paid out a huge sum to Joakim Noah, who turned out to be one of the worst decisions in Knicks’ history.
With Derick Rose and Noah now onboard after trades, the Knicks were ready to return to their winning ways. With the hiring of run-n-gun coach Jeff Hornacek, Knicks’ fans believed they’d see the offense they’d been waiting for. However, Phil Jackson had other thoughts. He wanted the team to continue to run the Triangle and players weren’t happy about it. Most notably, Rose.
This offseason is where Jackson continued to demonstrate his incompetence in the front office. With the 8th pick in the Draft, the Knicks selected point guard Frank Ntilikina. With the team in need of more scoring, they could have selected Malik Monk, Justin Jackson, or Donovan Mitchell.
Trading Carmelo Anthony was long overdue, but the mistake the Knicks made was letting Jackson have complete control. There is no way a Team President should be airing dirty laundry or disrespecting a player to the public, let alone one who has done nothing but give his all for the franchise and city. Jackson’s ego was a huge problem.
The haul they received for Anthony wasn’t great, because they failed to move him when his value was higher. They snagged Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott, and a second-round pick. Anthony was worth much more just a couple of years prior. Huge mistake on the Knicks’ part.
At the trade deadline, they made another deal for another point guard in Emmanual Mudiay, which gave them four on the active roster. Where was the replacement for Anthony? Clearing cap space for a big name player was a risk, and the Knicks failed.
To begin, the Knicks failed to secure the No. 1 pick in the draft despite having the worst record in the NBA (not their fault). Maybe tanking was not the best option with the league’s new lottery rules.
They then lost Kevin Durant (no offer), Kawhi Leonard (NY canceled the meeting,) and Kyrie Irving, instead they signed Julius Randle, Taj Gibson, Bobby Portis, and other second and third-tier players. Regardless of how their new core performs, the Knicks’ inability to sign top-tier free agents when they specifically cleared cap space for two max slots demonstrates how far the franchise has fallen.
The top show in town now resides in Brooklyn, and until the Knicks improve their infrastructure at the top, it’s going to stay that way for a once-proud franchise that has experienced yet another decade of futility.