In the first installment of our two-part feature, we look at the biggest trades the Knicks have made within their own division and the Southeast and Southwest divisions.
The NBA’s trade deadline may finalize at 3:00 p.m ET on Thursday—with the Knicks still actors in the market—but they’re most likely made their most impactful trade of the season.
Sending Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks will have ripple effects in the months and years to come, but it wasn’t the first trade to shake up the Knicks.
Let’s go in our imaginary time machine and check out select trades between New York and every NBA franchise and discuss the ones that stick out—either for thorny reasons or more nostalgic ones.
Today, we start with the Atlanta, Southeast, and Southwest divisions; the Toronto Raptors, Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Miami Heat, Charlotte Hornets, Washington Wizards, Orlando Magic, Atlanta Hawks, San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, New Orleans Pelicans, and Memphis Grizzlies.
Here’s part one of the Knicks’ most impactful trades in franchise history.
Date: July 10, 2013
Knicks Acquire: Andrea Bargnani
Raptors Acquire: Marcus Camby, Steve Novak, Quentin Richardson, a 2014 second-round pick, a 2016 first-round pick, and a 2017 second-round pick.
Knicks fans might want to close their eyes for this. In one of the worst trades in the history of the franchise, the Knicks sent three players and three picks for the former first-overall pick, Andrea Bargnani.
What did the Knicks get out of it? Two disappointing seasons from Bargnani, who averaged 13.3 and 14.8 points per game while consistently being a liability on defense. To make matters worse, the Raptors’ 2016 first-round pick turned into a top-10 selection, with Toronto taking Jakob Poeltl ninth overall. Just a few years later, Bargnani was out of the league. Thanks, Glen Grunwald.
Date: July 23, 2003
Knicks Acquire: Keith Van Horn
76ers Acquire: Glenn Robinson, Marc Jackson, Daniel Gibson, and a 2006 second-round pick
Hawks Acquire: Randy Holcomb, Terrell Brandon, and a 2007 first-round pick (ended up being lottery-protected)
Timberwolves Acquire: Latrell Sprewell
In a four-team trade involving the Philadelphia 76ers, the Latrell Sprewell era came to an end in NY.
With his career coming to a close, Sprewell played just two more years with the Timberwolves following the trade before announcing his retirement. As for the Knicks, they received Keith Van Horn, who averaged 16.4 points and 7.3 rebounds per game in his lone but productive season with the Knicks. He was then traded in February of 2004 to the Milwaukee Bucks. Looking back at this trade, it was pretty insignificant for all parties involved. However, it would have been nice to see Van Horn stick around for more than just commendable stretch of 47 games.
Date: February 12, 1979
Knicks Acquire: Tom Barker and three 1979 first-round draft picks
Celtics Acquire: Bob McAdoo
After averaging 26+ points per game for the Knicks from 1976–79, the 1975 NBA MVP was traded to the Boston Celtics for Tom Barker and three first-round picks.
From a scoring standpoint, McAdoo provided some exciting seasons for the Knicks. However, the team was not competitive throughout his tenure. After suffering through injuries and posting solid statistics on a mediocre team, the Knicks decided to trade him for future assets. Barker played just one season for the Knicks before his NBA career came to an end. Those three first-round picks turned into Bill Cartwright, Sly Williams and Larry Demic. McAdoo played just 20 games for Boston before signing with Detroit the next year.
In the following seasons, McAdoo’s statistics continued to deteriorate as he began to serve a bench role for various teams, including the 1982 and 1985 championship-winning Lakers. Looking back at the trade, the Knicks traded McAdoo right before his career started to take a dip. Bill Cartwright was easily the most successful of the Knicks’ three draft selections, and made his lone All-Star appearance during his spectacular rookie season with the Knicks.
Date: June 8, 1978
Knicks Acquire: 1978 and 1979 first-round picks
Nets Acquire: Phil Jackson and a 1978 first-round pick
In a trade with the then–New Jersey Nets, Phil Jackson’s playing days in New York came to an end. The Knicks sent Jackson and a first-round pick (Winford Boynes) for two first-round picks. With those picks, the Knicks selected Michael Ray Richardson and Vinnie Johnson; the latter never played a game in orange and blue.
With Jackson coming off a season averaging just 2.4 points per game, the trade was an absolute win for the Knicks. Jackson played two years with the Nets before retiring, and Michael Ray Richardson enjoyed four solid years with the team the Knicks. Richardson arguably had the most complete season of his career in 1979–80, when he averaged 15.3 points, 10.1 assists, and 3.2 steals per game. The trade truly marked the end of an era, as Jackson served a vital role off the bench for the 1970 and 1973 championship-winning Knickerbockers. Little did we know, Jackson would, unfortunately, return to the Knicks later on. But that is a chapter from which we’d all like to move on.
Date: September 1, 1995
Knicks Acquire: 1996 first-round pick
Heat Acquire: Pat Riley
This one deviates from the rest. In 1995, Riley resigned from the Knicks via fax and announced that he would become the president and head coach of the Miami Heat. With Riley under contract for one more year with the Knicks, New York accused the Heat of tampering. To settle the situation, the Heat sent a 1996 first-round pick and $1 million in cash in exchange for Riley. The Knicks spent this pick on Willy McCarty, who averaged just 1.8 points per game in 35 games before being traded to the Boston Celtics. For the Heat, Riley coached Miami up until 2008, winning the NBA Finals in 2006. He then took over as team president, winning the 2012 and 2013 NBA Finals with the LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh.
Although Riley made it clear he wanted out of New York, this trade marked the end of his four-year tenure with the Knicks that boasted some of their best teams in franchise history, including a squad that lost in Game 7 of the 1994 NBA Finals—it still stings. Looking back at the trade, it was great that the Knicks were able to expose the Heat for tampering and get something out of the trade. However, it would have been nice if they didn’t swing and miss on a pick like Willy McCarty.
Date: July 14, 1996
Knicks Acquire: Larry Johnson
Hornets Acquire: Anthony Mason and Brad Lohaus (irrelevant)
The second half of Larry Johnson’s career will forever be remembered for one moment—his four-point play in Game 3 of the 1999 Eastern Conference Finals. His shot and following free throw ended up being the winning margin, as the Knicks defeated the Pacers, 92-91. Although their season ended in a Finals loss to the San Antonio Spurs, Johnson was a key contributor to the Knicks during this improbable run as an eight seed. As for Mase, his time in New York came to an end as they looked to trade him before he started to decline. Mason went on to have average career-high 16.2 points and 11.4 rebounds per game in his first season with the Hornets. Following this, Mason played a few more seasons in the league before retiring in 2003. Ultimately, it was a good trade for both sides, as Johnson and Mason benefited from changes in scenery and their new roles.
Date: November 10, 1971
Knicks Acquire: Earl Monroe
Wizards (Baltimore Bullets) Acquire: Mike Riordan, Dave Stallworth, cash
In what might be considered one of the greatest trades in franchise history, the Knicks essentially traded two role players for Earl “The Pearl” Monroe. Monroe went on to play the rest of his career with the Knicks before retiring in 1980. He was a key member of the 1973 championship-winning team and quickly became a Knicks legend. Monroe is currently a member of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, and his number 15 hangs in the rafters of Madison Square Garden. Trades don’t get much better than this.
Date: February 22, 2006
Knicks Acquire: Steve Francis
Magic Acquire: Trevor Ariza and Penny Hardaway (was waived)
With this trade, the Knicks essentially traded 20-year-old Trevor Ariza and Penny Hardaway’s big contract for an aging Steve Francis. Francis went on to finish the 2006 season with the Knicks and play one more year with the team, averaging just over 10 points per contest in both seasons. The following season, Francis signed with Houston before announcing his retirement. Ariza went on to have a successful career as a role player for a variety of teams. At age 33, he is still in the league and currently a member of the Washington Wizards. Following this trade and the Magic’s decision to cut Hardaway, Penny announced his retirement before returning to the NBA and playing one final season with the Miami Heat.
Looking back at this deal, it makes sense that the Knicks wanted to dump the Hardaway contract (sound familiar?), but keeping Ariza around would have been the right move.
Date: June 25, 2015
Knicks Acquire: Jerian Grant
Hawks Acquire: Tim Hardaway Jr.
Wizards Acquire: Kelly Oubre
In a three-team deal on draft night, the Knicks essentially acquired Jerian Grant in exchange for Tim Hardaway Jr. Grant played one year for the Knicks, averaging 5.6 points and 2.3 assists per game before being part of the 2016 trade that brought Derrick Rose to the Knicks. Hardaway played two seasons for the Hawks, struggling immensely in his first (averaged 6.4 points per game and was sent down to G League), yet recovering in his second season (averaged a then career-high 14.5 points per game).
As we all know, THJ hit restricted free agency in 2017 and the Knicks signed him to a massive four-year $71 million offer sheet, which the Hawks then declined. Hardaway spent the past two years with the Knicks as one of their top scoring options before being traded to Dallas in late January of 2019. Looking back at the deal, it would have been nice if the Knicks could go back and do it all over again. Instead, we watched as Grant and Rose each played one year for the Knicks and management grossly overpaid to bring back their own draft selection in 2013. Classic Knicks.
San Antonio Spurs
Date: February 24, 2005
Knicks Acquire: Malik Rose, a 2005 first-round pick and a 2006 first-round pick
Spurs Acquire: Jamison Brewer and Nazr Mohammed
Looking back, this was one of the few trades in the mid-2000s of which the Knicks were on the winning end. Although Malik Rose was just a role player, and New York missed with the selection of Mardy Collins in 2006, the Knicks were able to draft David Lee with the earlier of the two first-round picks they received in this trade. Lee went on to have a successful five-year tenure with the Knicks, which saw him post the best statistics of his career in the 2009–10 season, when he averaged 20.2 points and 11.7 rebounds per game.
As a result, Lee was named as an All-Star in 2010 and was a lone bright spot for the Knicks during his time with the team. Nazr Mohammed, who the Knicks gave up, played just two years as a role player for the Spurs. Brewer was waived following the trade.
Date: February 18, 2010
Knicks Acquire: Tracy McGrady and Sergio Rodriguez
Rockets Acquire: Jordan Hill, Jared Jeffries, a 2012 first-round pick, Hilton Armstrong, and Kevin Martin
Kings Acquire: Joey Dorsey, Larry Hughes, and Carl Landry
With every win comes a loss, and boy was this a tough one.
The Knicks gave up Jordan Hill, Jared Jeffries, and a first-round pick for Tracy McGrady. Although McGrady may have brought more fans into the Garden, there was a reason the Rockets moved on from him. This was the beginning of the end for McGrady, who struggled with injuries throughout the end of his career. The future Hall of Famer played just six games with the Rockets in 2009 after recovering from surgery. Those six games were all they needed to see to realize the McGrady era was over in Houston. By the time he came to the Knicks, McGrady was a shell of his former self. He played only 24 games for the Knicks, averaging 9.4 points, 3.9 assists, and 3.7 rebounds per game while shooting under 40 percent from the field. This trade marked a bad trend for the Knicks—trading assets for big-name players past their prime.
Date: January 31, 2019
Knicks Acquire: DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Mathews, Dennis Smith Jr., a 2021 first-round pick, and a 2023 first-round pick (Top-10 protected)
Mavericks Acquire: Kristaps Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee, and Trey Burke
Following a quick, five-minute meeting with Knicks management that ended in KP demanding a trade, less than an hour later, an agreement was made between the Mavs and Knicks. The positive of the trade was the Knicks were able to dump the contracts of THJ and Courtney Lee, giving themselves an opportunity to sign two max players this summer. They also received two future first-round picks, giving them seven first-rounders in the next five years. DeAndre Jordan and Wesley Matthews are on the final years of their contracts, with both possibly being dealt before the deadline this Thursday. Dennis Smith Jr. is an interesting acquisition and another addition to Fiz’s youth movement.
As tough as it is to trade a 23-year-old KP, whom many thought to be the cornerstone of the franchise, this trade cannot be graded accurately until this summer. If the Knicks land one or two star-quality max free agents, it will be a win. If not, goodbye Mills and Perry.
New Orleans Pelicans
Date: June 23, 2011
Knicks Acquire: Josh Harrellson
Pelicans Acquire: Cash (lol)
The one and only trade ever conducted between the Knicks and Pelicans was quite a significant one. After being selected 45th overall in the 2011 NBA Draft, the Pelicans sent Harrellson (a.k.a. JORTS) to the Knicks in exchange for cash. Harrellson spent one season with the Knicks, averaging a career-high 4.4 points and 3.9 rebounds per game. At times, the Kentucky product showed flashes of potential on the court. However, in July 2012, Harrellson was a part of an atrocious trade that brought Marcus Camby back to the Knicks. Harrellson was promptly waived and spent the next two seasons with the Miami Heat and Detroit Pistons before his NBA career came to an end. Currently, Harrellson is playing professional basketball for the Osaka Evessa’s of the Japanese B League. Cash was the real winner in this trade.
Date: June 25, 2009
Knicks Acquire: Darko Milicic
Grizzlies Acquire: Quentin Richardson and Cash
Widely considered one of the biggest busts of all-time, Darko Milicic was selected second overall in the 2003 NBA Draft. Yes, the same draft that boasted players such as LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade. After six-plus disappointing years in the league, the Knicks decided to take a gamble on Milicic, trading Quentin Richardson and cash to the Grizzlies. Milicic played just eight games for the Knicks, averaging 2.0 points and 2.6 rebounds per game. In exchange, the Knicks gave up cash and a solid role player in Richardson. If Milicic had already struggled and bounced around three teams early in his career, did the Knicks really think they could turn him around? I didn’t think so.
Check out part two of the double feature of the Knicks’ biggest trades here.