New York Knicks: The State of the Franchise

Everyone who knows basketball knows that New York truly is the Mecca of basketball. From its hallowed playgrounds and iconic courts, you can’t go to a borough that doesn’t have their fair share of hoops legends. Even today, NBA players are still making their trip to Mecca, a.k.a Rucker Park, to play and showcase their skills at arguably the most famous court in the world. However, the type of dominance and display that are shown on the streets isn’t the same as what is being shown on the hardwood. And for the two professional teams that call New York home, it’s been a state of emergency over the past few years.  More so for the New York Knicks.

The New York Knicks are one of the NBA’s oldest and most storied franchises. It also helps that they’ve called the world’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden, home for over 50 years. They have had their fair share of basketball greats don a Knicks jersey such as Willis Reed, Walt Frazier, Earl Monroe and Patrick Ewing to name a few. They even have some of the most iconic moments in NBA history. Such as, when Willis Reed came out of the locker room for Game 7 of the NBA Finals.


Since 2001, the New York Knicks have had 14 seasons with a losing record. Their worst season came in 2014 when they won a mere 17 games. The team has also only made it to the playoffs 4 times since 2001. They have only made it past the 1st round one of those times. The biggest problem with the franchise has been a lack of consistency and stability at both the coaching level and in the front office.

The team has gone through 9 different head coaches since the turn of the century. Coaches ranging from Larry Brown to Mike D’Antoni to Mike Woodson just to name a few. It’s hard to say any of the coaches had any real success with the Knicks. Mike Woodson led the team to their only 50 win season since 1999. However, all other seasons under Woodson resulted in a sub .500 record.

Let us not forget the infamous Eddy Curry trade Isiah Thomas made as the Knicks GM. He sent away a 2006 and 2007 first round pick for Eddy Curry, Antonio Davis, and a 2007 pick which ended up turning into Wilson Chandler. Those picks turned into LaMarcus Aldridge and Joakim Noah.


On top of coaching and front office blunders, the personnel just hasn’t been there for the New York Knicks. For starters, they haven’t had the greatest success when it comes to drafting players. Aside from Kristaps Porzingis who, when healthy is a top 5 center in the league. The Knicks haven’t drafted a true stud in years. Many of their picks didn’t last more than 3 or 4 years on the team before either leaving or being shipped away. A few have gone on to have pretty good careers on contending teams. Guys like Wilson Chandler, Trevor Ariza, Channing Frye and David Lee have all gone on to bigger and better things once they left New York.

The team has also missed out on some big-time players. In 2008, after missing Steph Curry by one 1 pick, the Knicks selected Jordan Clarkson. They missed out on guys like Demar DeRozan and Jeff Teague. In 2011, the Knicks selected Iman Shumpert over guys like Kenneth Faried and Jimmy Butler. Some other players the Knicks have missed out on over the years are Kyle Lowry, Brook Lopez, Isaiah Thomas, Rajon Rondo and Lance Stephenson.


Aside from all the other dysfunction that goes along with the New York Knicks, one could argue that the biggest problem is that free agents don’t want to play there. The Knicks play in one of the biggest sports markets in the world. They play in one of the most famous arenas in the world. NBA superstars, however, see the Garden as more of a playground rather than a place to call home. LeBron James literally crowned himself the King of New York last season in an Instagram post with him standing on the Knicks logo at center court.


When you’re a star player, the city basically worships the ground you walk on. Just look at guys like Patrick Ewing, Derek Jeter, and Michael Strahan as some examples. But the New York Knicks haven’t been able to land a big name free agent in what seems like an eternity.  Amar’e Stoudemire was their best signings and that was after he had already had two knee surgeries. The return on investment was definitely not worth it as he only had one truly great season for the Knickerbockers. It just seems as of late, whenever the frenzy of free agency is happening, and the “Woj Bombs” drop on Twitter, there never seems to be any bombs dropping in NYC. The best star the Knicks have acquired was Carmelo Anthony. He came via a trade with the Denver Nuggets. And even then, one can go back and look to see if that trade was even worth it. But that’s a topic for another day.


It’s not all doom and gloom for the Knicks. It seems as of now they are taking steps to turn the ship around. For starters, they have a new GM in Steve Mills, who they signed to a 5-year deal in 2017. The New York Knicks also signed David Fizdale as their new head coach after two frustrating years with Jeff Hornacek. Fizdale was let go from the Memphis Grizzlies last season. This was shocking to many around the league. The former Miami Heat assistant has been praised by players such as LeBron James.

In terms of player personnel, the Knicks have a nice young core to build around. They drafted Kevin Knox with the 9th pick in this year’s draft and he had a very impressive Summer League. Kristaps Porzingis won’t be back from his ACL tear until around January. However, when he’s healthy, he is truly something special on the court. Tim Hardaway shows flashes here and there, while Ntlikina is still a work in progress.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest thing to look forward to as a Knicks fan should be the 2019 free agency. The New York Knicks, along with their New York counterparts the Brooklyn Nets, will be among a handful of teams that have the cap space to go out and sign one or two high profile free agents to max contracts. The Nets, however, have revamped their franchise as well and could potentially steal some from the Knicks.

It will be an interesting summer next year seeing which Borough can land the biggest name player. With a new head coach, a seemingly competent GM, a promising rookie in Kevin Knox, and a potential superstar to play alongside with in Porzingis, the dark ages in New York may be coming to an end soon.

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Justin Thomas


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