As it came... it went.
The 2024 trade deadline is now in the books and the New York Knicks only needed to complete one transaction with the Detroit Pistons to be crowned surefire winners of the day by most analysts covering the Association.
That piqued my interest in exploring what New York had done on the same deadline day during the last few years, so I took the time to take a look back and revisit a few trades the Knicks have made at or around the trade deadline in the past and see how they turned out in hindsight.
Here’s what I found out.
2023 — Knicks get Tom Thibodeau and Jalen Brunson’s dream piece
The most recent February trade is the one that took place last season when the Knicks acquired Josh Hart, along with draft rights to Daniel Diez and Bojan Dubljevic for Ryan Arcidiacono, Svi Mykhailiuk, Cam Reddish, the draft rights to Ante Tomic, and a conditional 2023 first-round pick.
The trade at the time seemed like a great one as the Knicks immediately reeled off a nine-game winning streak. His instant infusion of defense, rebounding, transition finishing, and energy made him an integral part of the Knicks’ success in the second half of the season and it saw him turn into a fan favorite overnight.
In 25 regular season games, Hart averaged 10.2 PPG, 7 RPG, and 3.6 APG while shooting 58.6% from the field and 51.9% from three. Since then, there’s been a lot of ups and downs with Hart. He had a solid series against the Cavaliers in last year’s postseason but did struggle mightily offensively against Miami in the next series.
He then ended up inking a four-year $81 million extension last August but the verdict on how good or bad that contract is remains undecided as his 23-24 season has been a weird one.
Hart still provides the Knicks with a spark off the bench on some nights, and is, when at his best, a good defender, and rebounder, capable of being a secondary or tertiary playmaker. While his three-point shooting has been pretty abysmal this season, Hart still has one of the best plus/minus figures on the team and seems to come up with big plays when the team most needs it.
Looking back, the trade—despite what the Knicks are paying Hart—still seems like a solid one. The Knicks didn’t give up much and Hart’s ability to contribute to a winning lineup despite not always passing the eye test, is meaningful. And if it means having a better shot at seeing Jalen Brunson retire a Knick, then so be it.
2021 — Knicks bring Derrick Rose back
We now wind the clock back a few more years and go back to 2021 when the Knicks traded away Dennis Smith Jr. and a second-round pick to the Pistons in exchange for Derrick Rose.
At the time, New York was in the midst of a very subpar start to the season as they struggled out of the gates. With a record of 11-14, the Knicks decided to bring up a familiar face in Rose. The then-32-year-old was having a very solid season in Detroit, averaging 14.2 PPG in 22.8 MPG, and with the way the season was going, anything seemed like an upgrade.
At the same time, however, some were skeptical of the move given Rose’s injury history and how little team success the Knicks had during Rose’s first stint in New York. All of those doubts were put to rest immediately.
The Knicks cruised to a 30-17 record the rest of the way and made the playoffs for the first time since 2013 thanks in large part to the 14.9 PPG Rose averaged for the Knicks. The playoffs themselves didn’t go great for the team but Rose capped off a very solid season by upping his play in the postseason and averaging 19.4 PPG and 5.0 APG in his lone series against the Hawks.
What is now known as the “We Here” season was a big part of changing the direction and narrative of this franchise and the trade, given Rose’s impact on that season, will always be a big win for the Knicks.
2019 — Knicks put an ugly and sudden end to the Kristaps Porzingis era
This one comes with a caveat as it came on the last day of January, and not on the day or week of the trade deadline, but given its magnitude and impact, it was hard not to mention it here.
It was rumored that the relationship between the Knicks’ front office and Porzingis and his camp had soured, but the trade still felt like it came out of nowhere. One day, Porzingis, despite being frustrated, seemed like he was working hard to rehab his way back from a knee injury and then the next day, the face of the franchise was gone. Poof, just like that.
KP was no longer the Knicks’ future. He wasn’t the one that, like many believed then, would bring the Knicks back to relevancy. And the worst part of it all? It seemed like the Knicks got fleeced by Dallas.
All the Knicks got were Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews, a 2021 unprotected first-round pick, and a top-10 protected first-round pick in 2023 that didn’t even end up conveying.
At the time, it appeared that the Knicks were helping Dallas create the second coming of Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki, as they sent a sharp-shooting big man to pair up with one of the league’s best playmakers in Luka Doncic.
Looking back, none of those players who came over in the trade really amounted to much in New York. Matthews played all of two games before finishing out the season in Indiana, Jordan started 19 games and averaged a solid 10.9 PPG and 11.4 RPG but then went across the river to Brooklyn the season after, and Smith Jr. appeared in a total of 55 games before being shipped out in the aforementioned Rose deal.
We now know that Porzingis’ time in Dallas was not what many thought it could be. He and Doncic had some really promising moments but it ultimately didn’t work out. But the Knicks still have to be considered losers in this trade.
Considering what Porzingis’ value was at the time, they didn’t get much. They got two veterans who didn’t make it past the season, an experimental former lottery pick in Smith Jr. who left just a year later, and two picks that also didn’t do much for the franchise.
2011 - Knicks bring home the superstar they always wanted
It’s not a stretch to say that this is the biggest, and most talked about trade in Knicks history. In the three-team blockbuster deal, the Knicks acquired Carmelo Anthony along with Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams, Anthony Carter, Renaldo Balkman, and Corey Brewer from the Denver Nuggets while they sent out Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov, Eddy Curry, Anthony Randolph, a first-round pick, and a pair of second-round picks.
The franchise had finally secured its biggest star since Patrick Ewing, and the fanbase, the players, and the organization couldn’t have been more thrilled. But it wasn’t the perfect trade. In fact, it was far from it.
The Knicks obviously gave up a lot and there’ll always be questions on if the Knicks could have just kept their assets and waited for Anthony to become a free agent later that year. In that world of what-ifs, who knows what the ceiling and makeup of that team could have looked like? Regardless of what they ended up having to give up, in a vacuum, the trade itself was fine. The Knicks got their guy and a nice piece in Billups—who did end up getting amnestied—without having to give up too many picks and it’s not like they traded away a young player that ended up becoming an All-Star.
Chandler and Gallinari, the latter who is still in the league, had very nice careers away from New York but neither, even combined, stack up to the career and resume that Anthony had.
Even if this was a rushed trade that led to an imperfect team with a less-than-ideal fit, New York gave itself a chance and Anthony did end up leading them to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in over a decade.
2005 - Knicks’ trade exemplifies just how badly they were run in the 2000s
On February 22nd, the Knicks traded Trevor Ariza and Penny Hardaway to the Orlando Magic in exchange for 28-year-old Steve Francis. Now looking at the names alone, it doesn’t seem like an awful trade.
Hardaway was a shell of himself by then and on his way out of the L, and Ariza was still a young player with his best game still years of development away from him. And in Francis, the Knicks were getting another playmaker and a scorer who they could pair alongside their mid-aughts centerpiece, point guard Stephon Marbury.
But things... did not work out, and this ended up being the most Knicks thing ever.
Trevor Ariza, who had shown some promise as a young player, found himself in Larry Brown’s doghouse that season but went on to have a very productive career as a 3-and-D specialist, playing for multiple contenders and even winning a ring in Los Angeles before the end of the decade.
Francis, on the other hand, was an undersized shooting guard in a point guard’s body, was about to turn 30, and relied mostly on his athleticism and quickness which definitely wasn’t going to help him age gracefully. He had already shown signs of decline, averaging a career-low 16.2 PPG at the time of the trade, and, making things even worse for the Knicks, was in a bizarre contract situation.
New York already had the highest payroll in the league after taking on $34 million a couple of weeks earlier by trading for an aging Jalen Rose and Antonio Davis, and now the franchise owed Francis $49 million over the next three seasons.
Francis ended up averaging just 11.1 PPG and 3.7 APG over the next two injury-riddled seasons he spent in New York before returning to his original franchise in Houston in time for the 2008 season, where he only got to play 10 games before getting traded to Memphis (where he didn’t play a single minute) and waived before joining the Beijing Ducks in China for a month in late 2010.
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