The New York Knicks are the NBA's most valuable franchise. During the current NBA season, Forbes estimated their value to be $1.1 Billion. They have the most famous basketball arena in the world, the fabled Madison Square Garden. Their fans are universally acknowledged as some of the greatest, most loyal and knowledgeable basketball fans around. Despite being the most valuable franchise and having one of the most historic franchises, the New York Knicks have not enjoyed very much success. The Knicks were founded in 1946 and have won only two NBA Championships in their history, in 1970 and 1973. Since their last title in 1973, the Knicks have advanced to the NBA Finals on only two other occasions, in 1994 and 1999.
Since the turn of the century, the Knicks have been one of the worst franchises in the NBA. The have been the picture of dysfunction and have not been able to sustain any level of success. They have always been a team mired in salary cap trouble and whenever they do manage to generate cap space they immediately waste it on the wrong players. They have not drafted well or developed any of their young players. They are in danger of missing the playoffs in a historically weak Eastern Conference and do not even have a first round pick in one of the best drafts in recent years. While this current season has been hugely disappointing, it is endemic of how the Knicks have operated over the past ten years. The following list shows ten of the worst decisions decisions made by the Knicks in the past decade and highlights why they are serial underachievers. Only decisions made starting in 2004 are part of this list.
10 Hiring Phil Jackson - $ 12 Million a Year
Phil Jackson is one of the best coaches in NBA history. He has won eleven NBA titles with two different franchises. He has the highest winning percentage for a coach in the history of the league. When it comes to coaching, Jackson simply has the Midas touch.
However, Phil Jackson has no experience as a basketball executive. His hiring by the Knicks reeks of desperation and resembles big name hires that went awfully wrong in the past such as Isiah Thomas and Larry Brown. Taking a chance on one of the best coaches in NBA history is defensible, but $12 million annually for a rookie executive is excessive. There have been questions regarding whether Jackson would spend the majority of his time in New York. Some pundits have flatly stated that he would not be interested in scouting some of the smaller colleges. While these concerns may be unfounded, $12 million a year for an executive who would rather work for the Los Angeles Lakers and has not prior experience in his current role is not a good idea.
9 Trading for Andrea Bargnani - 2 years, $23,362,500
8 Hiring Mike D'Antoni - 4 years, $24 Million
7 Resigning J.R. Smith - 3 years, $17.95 Million
6 Letting Jeremy Lin Leave via Free Agency
For a few weeks in the early part of 2012, Jeremy Lin was the most talked about player in the NBA. The young guard exploded out of nowhere to become an international phenomenon. He made the struggling Knicks relevant after two weeks of excellent basketball. He seemed the perfect fit in Mike D'Antoni's system. He looked like a borderline All-Star caliber player and had some of the more memorable moments of the 2011/2012 season.
5 Signing Jerome James - 5 years, $29 Million
4 Signing Eddy Curry - 6 years, $60 Million
3 Hiring Larry Brown - 5 years, $50-60 Million
2 Signing Amar'e Stoudemire - 5 years, $99,743,996
1 Wasting the Amnesty Clause on Chauncey Billups - $14.1 Million
While signing Amar'e Stoudemire was a stupid decision, the Knicks had the potential to get away from his onerous contract. After the 2011 lockout, NBA teams were awarded an amnesty provision allowing them to amnesty a contract and have it not count against their salary cap. Given Stoudemire's contract and his visibly deteriorating health, it appeared the provision was tailor made for the Knicks. Instead of saving the provision for Stoudemire, the Knicks hastily used it to amnesty Chauncey Billups. Billups was in the final year of a contract that paid him $14.1 million. He was coming of an injury, but he was an expiring contract that would have been a trade asset at the very least. Even if they kept him all season it would have been one year. Instead the Knicks amnestied Billups to facilitate the signing of Tyson Chandler and left themselves no salary cap flexibility until Stoudemire's contract ends.
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