Although the Knicks didn’t get invited to the NBA’s resumption bubble because they were once again among the league’s bottom feeders, that doesn’t mean we can’t still enjoy watching the best basketball players in the world go toe-to-toe at Disney World.
There are approximately 28 bubble participants who once called Madison Square Garden home. It’s up to you whether to root for or against these exes, and how you feel about any given player will depend on a range of factors, including whether the organization thoroughly trashed them on the way out and then canceled Latvian Heritage Night.
Now let’s take a look at the former Knicks who will compete for Best in the Bubble.
The Eastern Conference
Milwaukee Bucks - Robin Lopez, Wesley Matthews, Thanasis Antetokounmpo
Robin Lopez is attempting to help reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo reach the promised land. Robin was one of Phil Jackson’s shrewdest signings, but the Zen Master botched it by trading Lopez for Derrick Rose to build the world’s worst Super Team.
In addition to Lopez, the Bucks employ Wesley Matthews, who in 2019 averaged 7 points and 2.5 assists across two games with the Knicks before being waived so he could sign with a competitor.
The Bucks roster also includes Thanasis Antetokunmpo, younger brother of Giannis. New York drafted Thanasis in the second round back in 2014, but didn’t have the patience to keep him around long enough to try and persuade his older brother to join the Knicks.
Washington Wizards - Jerian Grant
Phil Jackson nabbed Grant the night of the 2015 draft as part of the trade that sent Tim Hardaway Jr. to the Atlanta Hawks. Hardaway Jr. would, of course, come back to New York in 2017, before being packaged with KP to clear cap space so the team could sign Julius Randle, Marcus Morris, Bobby Portis, Elfrid Payton, Taj Gibson, Wayne Ellington and Reggie Bullock.
Grant played in 76 games for the Knicks in 2015-16, averaging 5.6 points, 1.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists. Over the final four games of the season, he posted 16.8 points, 4 boards, 4 assists and 1.8 steals per game while shooting 56% from the floor and 33% from deep. The Knicks then traded him as part of the deal to get Derrick Rose.
Brooklyn Nets - DeAndre Jordan, Jamal Crawford, Michael Beasley, Wilson Chandler, Lance Thomas
The Nets are like a little brother who tries too hard to be like their older brother. Hopefully Crawford puts up a 50 spot at some point during the bubble.
Boston Celtics - Enes Kanter
Kanter’s ongoing fight against Turkish dictator Tayyip Erdoğan is admirable, and more impressive than his Knicks tenure. Good guy, good ball player. Just wasn’t in the right place at the right time in New York.
Philadelphia 76ers - Kyle O’Quinn
O’Quinn was a solid contributor in New York, but he never quite found a precise role to play. It felt like he was on the team for 10 seasons, but it was really only three.
Indiana Pacers - Doug McDermott, Justin Holiday
McDermott had a brief but lovely stint with the Knicks after coming to New York as part of the trade that sent Carmelo Anthony to Oklahoma City. After about five months, he was traded as part of the package that brought in Emmanuel Mudiay.
Holiday shot 35% from deep for the Knicks in 2017-18 and looked like a legitimate two-way wing, but New York didn’t offer him a contract in free agency and let him walk to Chicago.
The Western Conference
Dallas Mavericks - Kristaps Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee, Trey Burke
A gaggle of former Knicks will try to keep the momentum going for the Mavericks, headlined by Porzingis. Among the biggest knocks Knicks fans had on KP — aside from his venomous fangs and tendency to slither around on the ground — was that he would get tired as the season wore on. Will he be able to overcome that issue thanks in part to the multi-month break that took place in-between this season’s stoppage and its bubble resumption? Who cares? It’s certainly not our problem!
Hardaway Jr. was playing extremely well before the coronavirus outbreak, and will be one of the most important players for the Mavs. Courtney Lee has a calf injury that will supposedly keep him out, but he still felt the desire to travel with the team to ensure high levels of camaraderie.
Trey Burke was recently signed to bolster the bubble roster, and there’s no guarantee that he’ll get many minutes. Here’s hoping he gets some opportunity and capitalizes, like that one time against the Charlotte Hornets when he put up 42 and 12.
Some Knicks fans will root for the Mavs to make it deep in the bubble playoffs, while others would like nothing more than to see Porzingis fail. We’re a finicky bunch.
Sacramento Kings - Corey Brewer
Brewer never played a single minute for the Knicks, but he was one of the guys the Knicks got in the original Carmelo Anthony trade. He was quickly waived and has since bounced around from playoff team to playoff team before landing in Sacramento.
Portland Trail Blazers - Carmelo Anthony, Trevor Ariza and Mario Hezonja
Rumors of a Melo reunion in New York next season just won’t go away, so we’d all be wise to keep an eye on the 7th best point-scorer in franchise history in order to see if he might work as a veteran presence who isn’t the top dog. Apparently he’s skinny.
Hezonja played one season with the team that was mostly unmemorable minus the time he stuffed LeBron James to seal a victory.
Ariza is the answer to the following trivia question: who did the Knicks trade so they could pair Steve Francis with Stephon Marbury?
Los Angeles Clippers - Marcus Morris, Joakim Noah
Morris was the best player on the Knicks this year, and the front office successfully parlayed his impressive half season into a decent trade that brought back a 2020 first round pick from the Clippers and Moe Harkless. Not the best haul, but a haul nonetheless.
Noah is a jerk who failed miserably in New York and then said he was “too lit to play in New York City.”
Los Angeles Lakers - J.R. Smith
Smith certainly deserves another chance after that embarrassing mishap in the 2018 finals, and it’s only right that LeBron’s Lakers are the team that decided to scoop him up.
He can be a bonehead, but Smith was an indispensable part of the only very good Knicks team this decade, and he won a Sixth Man of the Year Award while in New York.
Houston Rockets - Tyson Chandler
Chandler was only playing about eight minutes per game before the season went kaput, but his presence on the Rockets’ roster is intriguing since he’s the only player who is at least seven feet tall.
Chandler was great for the Knicks; it’s just too bad the front office had to use the amnesty clause on Chauncey Billups in order to get him mere months after picking up Billups’ option.
Denver Nuggets - Noah Vonleh
There’s no reason to hate Vonleh, nor is there reason to love him. For about half a season he was tantalizing as a big man who could clean the glass and immediately turn to run the break.
Utah Jazz - Emmanuel Mudiay
The acquisition of Mudiay meant that Frank Ntilikina’s already meager minutes were immediately in question. David Fizdale failed to get him right, and his time in New York didn’t result in much winning, but at least Mudiay had some fun!
“Obviously we wanted to win more, but I built some good relationships,” Mudiay said. “For me personally, it’s probably different from other people. I got a chance to play, have fun and start having a love for the game again.”
Oklahoma City Thunder - Danilo Gallinari
Once our young, handsome Italian stallion, Gallinari is now a grizzled veteran who has played 11 seasons. He’s averaged at least 15 points per game nine times, and his last two seasons have actually been the best of his career.
He’s an unrestricted free agent this summer, and the Knicks should totally sign him instead of Melo.
Who is your fav former Knick playing in the bubble?
This poll is closed