Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports
Folks looking to assign blame for the New York Knicks’ postseason failure may look at the Senior Vice President of Basketball Operations Glen Grunwald. They should also make sure they praise Grunwald, who help...
Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports
Folks looking to assign blame for the New York Knicks’ postseason failure may look at the Senior Vice President of Basketball Operations Glen Grunwald. They should also make sure they praise Grunwald, who helped New York have its most successful season in 13 years.
As much as people want to bag on the Knicks for falling short of a title this year, fans should be grateful. Grunwald, who’s been on board with the team since 2006, has been pivotal in overhauling a team that was hapless not too long ago.
Ungrateful fans should rent a time machine and zoom back to the early aughts, when Isiah Thomas, legendary baller and legendarily awful basketball executive, was named Knicks president of basketball operations in 2003. He also assumed head coaching duties in 2006, replacing the legendary Larry Brown. Thomas’s overall record with the Knicks was 56-108. Needless to say, there were many more craters than peaks.
There was the 2004 team, a veritable mish-mash of non-complementary talent. Ball-hogging guards Stephon Marbury and Jamal Crawford took the court with disappointing forwards Tim Thomas and Vin Baker. There was Kurt Thomas, who did average a double double. They also had a first round draft bust by the name of Michael Sweetney, who was in his second year.
And let’s not forget Allan Houston, who averaged 11.9 points per game, but made more than $17 million (more on this later). That team finished 16 games below .500, good for fifth in the Atlantic Division.
And then there was the 2007-08 season, the bleakest time to be a Knicks fan in recent history, when the team lost 59 games, tying a franchise record. That’s back when they had Zach Randolph, Jamal Crawford and Nate Robinson, before those guys would mature into solid players for contending ball clubs.
If you think Amar’e Stoudemire’s contract was bad, go back to 2001, when the Knicks gave Houston perennial All-Star money: a 6-year, $100 million contract, widely considered one of the worst deals in sports history, particularly since he was a decent player with a one-dimensional game.
Houston’s knees derailed his playing career, but his contract was so high he was still the NBA’s second highest paid player in 2005-06, even though he didn’t play a single game that year– not one.
When Thomas had control of the Knicks’ checkbook in those bad old days, more shenanigans ensued. A trio of all-time terrible pacts standout: Marbury’s, 4-year, $76 million contract in 2003, Eddy Curry’s 6-year, $56 million deal in 2005 and Jerome James’s 5-year, $30 million contract, also in 2005.
All fell precipitously short of living up to their deals. Curry could never get in shape and had knee problems and James was an underachiever who got paid due to a nice run during the 2005 NBA Playoffs when he was a member of the Seattle Supersonics.
The Marbury contract was a disaster. When Marbury got the deal he was widely considered one of the best point guards in basketball. But he was a cancer in the locker room and never won as a Knick. Then there was that sex scandal involving a team intern that emerged in 2007. The Knicks eventually banned him from their premises and finally bought him out in 2009, thankfully ending that marriage.
So, before fans go mouthing off about Carmelo Anthony or J.R. Smith or even Stoudemire, they should remember those bleak times.
Speaking of Stoudemire, another low point in recent team history occurred when the Knicks signed another freakishly athletic power forward in 2002 by the name of Antonio McDyess. But McDyess fractured his left kneecap on a putback dunk in a preseason game. He was never the same after that injury and was traded in a deal that brought Marbury to New York. It was another instance where a promise went unfulfilled for the Knicks.
At least the Knicks got some return with Stoudemire, who gave them one spectacular season in 2010-11 and another decent one in 2011-12 before knee problems hampered him this seaso