The New York Knicks are one of the most storied franchises in the NBA.
Currently, the Knicks are in a rebuilding phase and made many new additions to their roster over last summer. New York has made good moves to help potentially position the franchise for future success.
For fans, things are beginning to look a bit better. New York had the worst record in the NBA in 2017-2018, and they haven’t been down in the very basement since, so I guess that’s something.
In 2018, the Knicks traded Kristaps Porzingis, Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Courtney Lee to the Dallas Mavericks for Dennis Smith Jr., Wesley Matthews, DeAndre Jordan, and two 1st round draft picks.
Porzingis is now under contract with the Mavericks for the next three seasons and has a player option in 2023-24. Tim Hardaway Jr. has a player option next season. Burke and Lee are not under contract with the Mavericks for next season. The Porzingis trade was questioned by many analysts because Porzingis was seen by many as the future of the franchise. However, the trade allowed the Knicks cap space to sign free agents in the 2019 summer. It also gave the Knicks valuable draft assets to help rebuild the franchise.
In the summer of 2019, the Knicks were able to sign Julius Randle, Elfrid Payton, Bobby Portis, Taj Gibson, Reggie Bullock, and Marcus Morris to their roster. The Knicks subsequently traded Morris to the Los Angeles Clippers as part of a three-team deal and received Maurice Harkless, a 1st round pick and a 2nd round pick. The Knicks were also given the ability to swap first-round picks with the Clippers in the 2021 NBA draft.
New York drafted Duke product R.J. Barrett 3rd overall in the 2019 NBA draft. Barrett has played well for the Knicks, though he has struggled to score efficiently. The NBA is as competitive as it has ever been, and Barrett was thrust into a big role early on.
The Knicks still have flexibility with their cap space next season because Portis and Gibson have team options in their contract. Payton, Bullock, and Smith are not under contract with the Knicks after next season. For the 2019-20 season, the Knicks went through two head coaches in David Fizdale and Mike Miller. They recently hired a veteran coach and noted disciplinarian Tom Thibodeau to a five-year contract.
The last time the Knicks made the playoffs was in 2012-13 when they were led by Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, Kenyon Martin, Tyson Chandler, Jason Kidd, and Amar’e Stoudemire. Anthony made six All-Star selections in his time with the Knicks, though only had this one brief moment of playoff success.
However, the last time the Knicks had high expectations was in the 2011-12 season after Jermey Lin emerged as a potential young star. Lin and ‘Linsanity emerged unexpectedly, leaving the NBA world shocked for a few weeks in February. However, an injury left the young Lin sidelined and the Knicks ultimately lost in the first round of the playoffs to Lebron James and the Miami Heat. Lin became a restricted free agent at the end of the season and the Knicks opted not to match a lucrative offer that the Houston Rockets offered him.
New York has a lot of pressure to succeed because of the success the franchise has enjoyed in the past, as well as their mediocre play recently. Prior to Knicks great Patrick Ewing leaving the franchise, New York had made 37 playoff appearances in 53 seasons. Since Ewing left the Knicks, the Knicks have only made the playoffs five times in the past twenty years and have only made it out of the first round of the playoffs once, in 2012.
New York has won 2 NBA championships and made 8 NBA final appearances. The Knicks have featured 96 NBA All-Star selections and 22 Hall of Famers.
The 1969-70 Knicks are considered by many to be the best team in the franchise’s history. The roster featured four future Hall of Fame players in Willis Reed, Dave Debusschere, Walt Frazier, and Bill Bradley. They had the best regular-season record in the NBA that year. In the NBA finals, New York beat the Los Angeles Lakers in 7 games.
The Knicks would win their last NBA title in 1973 led by Earl Monroe, Reed, Debusschere, Frazier, Bradley, Jerry Lucas, and featuring future legendary head coach Phil Jackson. The Knicks later returned to some glory when they were led by the legendary Bernard King in the 1980s. King would lead the league in scoring while playing for the Knicks and made 2 All-Star appearances.
In the 1990s, the Knicks had a bitter rivalry with the Chicago Bulls that featured some of the best Knicks teams in history. In the 1990s, the Ewing, Oakley and Mason-led Knicks would face the Bulls five times in the playoffs. Despite not winning an NBA championship during this period, New York enjoyed consistent playoff success, including four Eastern Conference Finals and two NBA Finals appearances (in 1994 and 1999).