In the second installment of our two-part feature, we look at the biggest trades the Knicks have made with the Pacific, Central, and Northwest divisions.
Yesterday, Kevin Gamgort highlighted special trades among teams like the Dallas Mavericks, Toronto Raptors, and Orlando Magic among the Atlantic, Southeast, and Southwest divisions in the NBA.
Today—on the same day as the league’s trade deadline—Eli Cohen takes a look at the other half of the Knicks’ trading partners; the Pacific, Central, and Northwest Division teams.
Carmelo Anthony is in the forefront of our collective memories as a standout of New York dealing with the Denver Nuggets. Let’s take a look at the Knicks’ biggest trades also with the Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Indiana Pacers, Detroit Pistons, Milwaukee Bucks, Golden State Warriors, Sacramento Kings, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Utah Jazz, Portland Trail Blazers, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Minnesota Timberwolves.
Here’s the second the final part of the Knicks’ most impactful trades in franchise history.
Date: February 15, 2004
Knicks acquire: Tim Thomas and Nazr Mohammed
Bucks acquire: Keith Van Horn
Hawks acquire: Michael Doleac, Joel Przybilia, 2005 second-round pick (became future Knick Ronny Turiaf)
This is the only trade in league history between the Bucks and Knicks, which is rather surprising. Keith Van Horn was the best player in the trade and just a year removed from being the centerpiece in a Latrell Sprewell trade that absolutely devastated an 11-year-old me, but Isiah Thomas didn’t care. Thomas, seven weeks into his new position as Knicks President and in the middle of a decluttering project that would make Marie Kondo proud (he had already gotten rid of 10 Knicks through trades or cuts, fired the coach, and brought in Lenny Wilkens), claimed he wanted to get more athletic and better on defense.
Tim Thomas’ second half of the season with the Knicks would be by far the best of his career, putting up a career-high 15.8 points with 4.8 rebounds a game and shooting 40 percent from deep. He never reached those scoring numbers again and by 2005, both he and Mohammed would be off the team. Van Horn, also in the midst of a career-best season, saw his scoring numbers crater after the 2004 season and would be out of the league in two years.
Knicks crept into the seventh seed with a 39-43 record and were swept in the first round by the still–New Jersey Nets.
Date: October 22, 1982
Knicks acquire: Louis Orr
Pacers acquire: 1983 second-round pick (became the fantastically-named Scooter McCray)
For much of recent memory, the Pacers have served as the antagonist for the Knicks, always popping up to play the heel the few times the Knicks threaten a return to relevance. So it makes sense that the two long-at-odds teams have never engaged in any meaningful trades. Orr played six of his eight years in the NBA with the Knicks, averaging 9.3 points and 4.3 rebounds from the small forward position. Scooter McCray played 77 total games in three years.
Date: December 19, 1968
Knicks acquire: Dave DeBusschere
Pistons acquire: Walt Bellamy and Howard Komives
Finally a trade that really mattered! The Knicks made the tough choice to trade one of their best players, Walt Bellamy, averaging 15 points and 11 rebounds per game at the time, along with point guard Howard Komives, to the Pistons for the at-the-time three-time All-Star.
This allowed Willis Reed to man the center position full-time with DeBusschere as his frontcourt partner. Following the trade, the Knicks went on 14-1 run. Over the next five years in the Garden, DeBusschere averaged 16 points, 11 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game and was a pivotal member of the only two championships in franchise history. Safe to say the trade altered the legacy of the league’s oldest franchise.
RIP, Big D. Thank you for everything you gave to this city.
Date: October 4, 2005
Knicks acquire: Eddy Curry, Antonio Davis, 2007 first-round pick (became Wilson Chandler)
Bulls acquire: Jermaine Jackson, Mike Sweetney, Tim Thomas, 2006 first-round pick (became LaMarcus Aldridge), 2007 first-round pick (became Joakim Noah), 2007 second-round pick (became Kyrylo Fesenko), 2009 second-round pick (became Jon Brockman)
This was a tough one. On one hand, the 1988 trade that brought Charles Oakley and Rod Strickland to the Knicks nearly won the Knicks the 1994 championship. There aren’t a lot of deals in team history that can boast that.
On the other hand, the Eddy Curry trade hamstrung the team for years and cost them the chance at a young Aldridge-Noah front court that could have run the East for years. So what do we value more, the opportunity gained by Oak Tree, or the possibilities lost because of Eddy Curry? When it comes to the Knicks, the negatives almost always outweigh the positives.
Date: January 5, 2015
Knicks acquire: Lance Thomas (The Captain!), Lou Amundson (The Man-Bun!) and Alex Kirk (who?)
Cavs acquire: J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, OKC’s 2016 first-round pick (became Furkan Korkmaz)
Thunder acquire: Dion Waiters
We don’t have to dig too deep into the history books for this one. Phil Jackson, desperate to dump J.R. Smith, dealt Shumpert along with the Pied Piper to Cleveland for the loose change in between David Griffin’s couch cushions. Smith and Shump went on to be key members of the first 3-1 comeback in NBA Finals history, and Smith eventually had one of the iconic, defining plays of this basketball century. Meanwhile. Lance Thomas is by far the longest-tenured player on the Knicks, which is a little depressing.
Date: February 22, 2011
Knicks acquire: Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Anthony Carter, Renaldo Balkman, Sheldon Williams, Corey Brewer, Nuggets’ 2016 first-round pick (then traded to Toronto and became Jakob Poeltl)
Nuggets acquire: Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Raymond Felton, Timofey Mozgov, Kosta Koufos, Knicks’ 2014 first-round pick (became Dario Saric), Knicks’ 2016 first-round pick (became Jamal Murray), Knicks’ 2012 second-round pick (became Quincy Miller), Knicks’ 2013 second-round pick (became Romero Osby), cash
Timberwolves acquire: Eddy Curry, Anthony Randolph, Nuggets’ 2015 second-round pick (became Richaun Holmes), cash
You all know the story here. Carmelo Anthony wanted to come to New York but didn’t want to lose out on the money he’d get from signing in free agency, so the Knicks traded their entire team for the man who would bring greatness back to New York.
All told, including the draft picks that eventually conveyed, this ended up being a 19-player trade—which is just absurd. While Anthony’s reputation has taken a hit in recent years (in the same way the Titanic took a hit), he left the Knicks holding the team record for points in a single game, gave them their first playoff series win in 13 years, and a handful of the best moments younger Knicks fans have had the chance to experience. Though he left the team in ignominy, he did so as the seventh-highest scorer in team history. SstayMe7o
Oklahoma City Thunder/Seattle Supersonics
Date: November 12, 1986
Knicks acquire: Gerald Henderson Sr., Supersonics’ 1987 first-round pick (became Mark Jackson)
Supersonics acquire: 1987 first-round pick (became Scottie Pippen), 1990 second-round pick (became Steve Henson)
I was tempted to do a second-straight ‘Melo trade, if only for the second-round pick that became Mitchell Robinson, destroyer of worlds, but let’s diversify a bit. In a very Knicks-y move, the team traded their first-round pick the following year for Gerald Henderson, who averaged 6.6 points over 74 games for them, and Seattle’s first-round pick, which became Mark Jackson. Mark Jackson had two very good years for the Knicks, including winning Rookie of the Year and being named an All Star the following year. But the pick they gave up became Scottie goddamn Pippen. Knicks gonna Knick!
Portland Trail Blazers
Date: June 28, 2007
Knicks acquire: Zach Randolph, Fred Jones, Dan Dickau
Trail Blazers acquire: Steve Francis, Channing Frye
Thus ended the doomed Starbury-Franchise era. The Knicks traded the volatile point guard along with Channing Frye in a move that helped both teams move on from self-created roster problems. Randolph put up almost 18 points and 11 rebounds per game his first year with the Knicks, and was averaging 20 and 12.5 the following season when the team traded him to the Clippers in a move partially designed to clear up cap space for LeBron in 2010 (we all know how that turned out).
Date: January 5, 1979
Knicks acquire: Joe Meriweather
Jazz acquire: Spencer Haywood
Apparently the Knicks and Jazz aren’t the best of negotiating friends. This is the last time the two teams traded with each other. Meriweather averaged nine points and five boards in a season and a half with the Knicks. Haywood averaged 24 and 9.6 in a half year with the New Orleans Jazz and eventually made it to the Hall of Fame. Cool.
Date: July 23, 2003
Knicks acquire: Keith Van Horn
Timberwolves acquire: Latrell Sprewell
Hawks acquire: Terrell Brandon, Randy Holcomb, 76ers’ cash
76ers acquire: Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson, Marc Jackson (the other one), Hawks’ 2006 second-round pick (became Daniel “Boobie” Gibson)
This was one of the saddest moments of my life as a young Knicks fan. Sprewell had been one of the two or three guys, along with Kevin Garnett, to make me fall in love with the sport. This trade taught me that life is cold and painful and everything you love eventually goes away. In that way, it was great preparation for a lifetime of Knicks fandom.
Golden State Warriors
Date: October 22, 1982
Knicks acquire: Bernard King
Warriors acquire: Michael Ray Richardson, 1984 fifth-round (!!!!) draft pick (became Scott McCollum)
Our first sub-second-round pick! Michael Ray Richardson was a 6’5″ point guard who was billed as “the next Walt Frazier” when the Knicks took him with the fourth pick in the 1978 draft (two picks before Larry Bird). He averaged 16.5 points, 8.4 assists, 6.8 rebounds, 2.9 steals, and even attempted 1.3 threes a game in the three seasons for the Knicks following his rookie year. In his second year in the league, he became the third player ever to lead the league in assists and steals, and, according to Wikipedia, has the second-most triple-doubles in franchise history with 18.
It must have been hard to trade him, but that’s exactly what they did, for the legend, Bernard King. King averaged 26.5 points in his five seasons for the Knicks (one of which he sat out due to knee injury) and would still hold the Knicks record for points in a game if not for ‘Melo’s 62-point barnburner against Charlotte.
Los Angeles Clippers/Buffalo Braves
Date: December 9, 1976
Knicks acquire: Bob McAdoo, Tom McMillen
Braves acquire: John Gianelli, Knicks’ cash
A rare one-sided trade won by the Knicks! Bob McAdoo, in his two-ish seasons for the Knicks, averaged 26.7 points and nearly 12 rebounds a game while John Gianelli averaged seven points and five rebounds in 57 games with the Braves. McAdoo went on to win two rings with Kareem-era Lakers. Whatever the Braves may have been thinking at the time, they got taken for a ride.
Sacramento Kings/Cincinnati Royals
Date: December 16, 1963
Knicks acquire: Bob “Bullet Bob” Boozer, Johnny Egan
Royals acquire: Larry Staverman
Pistons acquire: Donny Butcher, Bob Duffy
Bullet Bob started his career by winning a gold medal at the 1960 Olympics, before joining the Oscar Robertson–led Cincinnati Royals. He averaged 16 points and eight rebounds for the Knicks over two years, then bounced around the league for several years before reuniting in his final season with Oscar Robertson on the 1971 Bucks championship team. To get Boozer and the 5’11” Johnny Egan, the Knicks gave up two role players in Donny Butcher and Bob Duffy. Not the most exciting trade, but an interesting tidbit in Knicks history.
Los Angeles Lakers
Date: October 14, 1965
Knicks acquire: Dick Barnett
Lakers acquire: Bob Boozer
Bullet Bob returns, and in a big way (see, you thought he was in there for no reason). Two years after trading two role players to get Boozer, the Knicks flipped him to the Lakers for Dick Barnett. Barnett, sporting a delightful heel-click jump shot and nicknamed “Skull” and “Fall Back Baby” according to Basketball-Reference.com went on to be an All-Star for the Knicks and a key member of the 1970 championship team, beating the Lakers squad that had traded him five years prior. He was still on the Knicks when they won their second championship in 1973, but his role was greatly diminished, only appearing in one Finals game.
Date: January 5, 2004
Knicks acquire: Stephon “Starbury” Marbury, Penny Hardaway, Cezary Trybanski
Suns acquire: Howard Eisley, Maciej Lampe, Antonio McDyess, Charlie Ward, Milos Vujanic, 2004 first-round pick (became Kirk Snyder), 2010 first-round pick (became Gordon Hayward)
Amar’e was technically a trade, but that feels like cheating, since the Knicks sent a top-55 protected second-round pick in the offseason for the right to sign STAT.
So let’s instead talk about Starbury, a man whose time in New York was grossly warped by the off-court antics and terrible team-building around him. In his first full year with the team, Coney Island’s Finest put up 21.7 points and 8.1 assists, shot 35 percent from three on four attempts a game, and played all 82 games for the ‘Bockers. While mental health issues doomed his final years in New York, he finally found some piece of mind and a place to call home in China and I, for one, am happy that there are statues and museums dedicated to the man called Starbury.
Check out the other part of this two-part feature here.