The Past and Future of the New York Knicks

The New York Knicks are one of the most storied and popular franchises in NBA history. In 1946, the New York Knickerbockers entered the NBA and enjoyed some immediate success. The NY Knicks went to the playoffs every year in their first nine seasons. In addition, they went to the finals three straight times starting in 1951, but came up short each time.

The Knicks finally won their first NBA Championship in 1970 with the help of future Hall of Famers Walt Frazier, Willis Reed, Bill Bradley, and Dave DeBusschere. The Knicks would then go on to win another title in 1973. 

After enjoying some moderate success with premier scorer Bernard King, the Knicks became one of the worst teams in league towards the mid 80’s, which lead to them drafting center Patrick Ewing with the number one overall pick in the 1985 NBA draft. A year in which Ewing would go on to win the 1986 NBA Rookie of the Year Award. In 15 seasons with Ewing, the Knicks had several playoff berths and a couple of NBA finals appearances, but was never able to win a title.

Fast forward to 2020, the 50th anniversary of their first championship and the Knicks in the eyes of many are considered one of the worst and most dysfunctional franchises in the NBA today. For the better part of the last two decades the New York Knicks franchise has been scrutinized and ridiculed by the media and disgruntled fans.

Despite a few bright spots such as acquiring Amar’e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, Jeremy Lin and the drafting of Kristaps Porzingis the NY Knicks franchise has been marred by unfavorable decisions.

In this article, we will go in depth to discuss the past and what the future holds for the New York Knicks after the recent shakeup within their front office.

How Has The NY Knicks Fared Under James Dolan?

At the time of taking control of the franchise the NY Knicks were coming off of eleven straight playoff appearances when James Dolan was given the role of managing the team in 1999. That same year in a lockout shortened season the New York Knicks went on to compete in the NBA finals but came up short against the San Antonio Spurs.

Under Dolan’s leadership the Knicks success initially continued. His first three seasons at the helm resulted in three straight playoff appearances but the Knicks didn’t have another winning regular season until their 2010-2011 campaign. The Knicks went from 2001 to 2010 without having a much success but in the 2003-2004 season the NY Knicks were able to squeeze into the first round of the playoffs with a 39-43 record but lost that series 4-0 to the New Jersey Nets.

Due to the team’s overall lack of success under Dolan’s tenure, he has been the target of criticism from fans and the media. James Dolan’s history with the Knicks has been typically described as being tainted with questionable decision after questionable decision.

Allan Houston’s six year $100 Million Max Contract

In 2001, Dolan signed Allan Houston to a 6 year $100 million max contract, but it’s rumored that no other team offered more than $75 million for his services. After just four seasons with the Knicks, Houston was forced to retire due to injury. Houston still had two years and $40 million on his contract.

Coaches Remained On NY Knicks Payroll After being Fired

The Knicks hired Don Chaney to be the head coach in 2001, but he was fired two years later. Lenny Wilkens served as a head coach from 2004 to 2005, but was also let go. Both coaches remained on the Knicks payroll after being fired because they were signed to multi year contracts.

Larry Brown’s 5 year contract, paid him over $28 million to coach one year

In 2005, Dolan hired Larry Brown as the head coach of the Knicks and signed him to a 5 year $50 million contract. Brown was subsequently fired after one losing season, but Brown was paid $28 million once the Knicks bought out his contract.

Isaiah Thomas replaced Brown as the head coach of the Knicks. During the 2006-2007 season, Dolan gave Thomas a multi year contract extension, but the Knicks ultimately failed in their quest for a playoff spot. The following season Thomas was relieved of his duties and eventually replaced by Mike D’Antoni.

Isaiah Thomas’ tenure

In 2003, Dolan picked NBA legend Isaiah Thomas to be the President of Basketball Operations at the recommendation of former Knicks’ executive Steve Mills. Thomas reconstructed the Knicks roster through trades and draft picks. The team ultimately underperformed, which lead to both Thomas and Dolan being put in the hot seat by critics.

During this tenure not only were Dolan and Thomas put on the hot seat by critics but they also felt the fever of a sexual harassment lawsuit. Isaiah Thomas was sued, James Dolan and Madison Square Garden were held liable for punitive damages to the cost of $11.6 million.

Jeremy Lin Walks

In 2012, Dolan decided against matching the $25.1 million offer by the Houston Rockets for fan favorite Jeremy Lin, as a result, Lin left the Knicks to go to the Rockets. This decision once again put Dolan in the crosshairs of detractors because he let a beloved figure go to another organization.

Drafting In The Dolan Era

When it comes to drafting in the Dolan era, the results of the NY Knicks front office have been less than spectacular when you look at the overall picture. Dolan’s hired guns missed many opportunities to draft players that would make at least one All-Star appearance in their career. To be fair the same can be said about most NBA front offices when it comes to the NBA Draft. But that still doesn’t change the fact that it’s still interesting to take a look at the players the Knicks could’ve drafted.

1999 (Metta World Peace, Andrei Kirilenko, Manu Ginobili)

The NY Knicks drafted French big man Frederic Weis with the 15th selection in the NBA draft but he never signed with the franchise nor did he ever play in an NBA game. They also selected J.R Koch from the university of Iowa in the second round with their 46th pick.

That year the Knicks missed an opportunity to draft future NBA All-Stars in Metta World Peace formerly known as Ron Artest (16th pick), Andrei Kirilenko (24th pick) and Manu Ginobili (57th pick).

2000 (Michael Redd)

Selected with the 22nd pick of the first round Donnell Harvey was drafted out of the University of Florida by the NY Knicks. In the second round with the 39th pick the Knicks selected Lavor Postell a prospect from St. John’s University. A few picks later at 43 the Milwaukee Bucks selected an Ohio State prospect that would later exceed all expectations. Michael Redd went on to become an NBA All-Star and a member of the 2008 United States Men’s Olympic basketball team.

2002 (Amare Stoudemire, Caron Butler, Carlos Boozer)

The NY Knicks traded Mark Jackson, Marcus Camby and the 7th pick (Nene) to the Denver Nuggets for the 25th pick, a 2003 second-round pick and Antonio McDyess. But what could’ve been if the Knicks held onto the 7th pick or chose differently at 25?

Amare Stoudemire was still on the board at 7 but the NY Knicks passed on the 2003 NBA Rookie of the year and the six time NBA All-Star. Stoudemire would eventually fall into the laps of the Phoenix Suns with the ninth overall pick. One selection later the Miami Heat capitalized on the opportunity to snag Caron Butler an NBA Champion and a two-time NBA All-Star.

When it came time to select at 25 the Knicks drafted a guard by the name of Frank Williams out of the University of Illinois. That left the door wide open for the Cleveland Cavaliers to select Carlos Boozer at 35. Boozer went on to become a two-time NBA All-Star.

2003 (David West, Josh Howard, Mo Williams, Kyle Korver)

In 2003 the Knicks selected Mike Sweetney with the ninth overall pick. That same year a forward from Xavier University stayed on the draft board until the New Orleans Hornets made their choice at 18. That pick was David West a player that would later become a two-time NBA All-Star and two-time NBA Champion.

Eleven picks later a Wake Forest prospect by the name of Josh Howard was chosen by the Dallas Mavericks with the 29th and final pick in the first round of the draft. At the height of Howard’s career he made an All-Star appearance in 2007.

In the second-round the Knicks used their draft pick acquired a year prior from a trade with the Denver Nuggets to select Maciej Lampe at 30 the first pick of the second round. They also selected Slavko Vranes with the 39th pick. These selections made by the Knicks allowed the Utah Jazz and the Philadelphia 76ers to seize the opportunity to acquire two players that would eventually become NBA All-Stars.

Mo Williams was selected at 47 by Utah and would eventually become an NBA Champion. Kyle Korver drafted by the Nets but acquired by Philadelphia on draft day for cash considerations made is lone All-Star appearance in 2015.

2005 (Andrew Bynum, Danny Granger, David Lee)

In 2005 the Knicks selected Channing Frye with the 8th overall pick. Frye carved out a decent career as role player. He was named to the 2006 All NBA Rookie First Team and won a chip in 2016.

In that same draft two picks later the Los Angeles Lakers selected Andrew Bynum with the 10th overall pick. Bynum would make an All-Star appearance in 2012 and become a two-time NBA champion during his 11 year career.

Seven picks after Bynum at 17 the Indiana Pacers selected a forward out of the University of New Mexico. That pick turned into Danny Granger. Granger was a member of the 2006 All NBA Rookie Second Team, the 2009 NBA Most Improved Player and an NBA All-Star.

Even with missed opportunities in the early stages of the NBA draft; 2005 was one of the better draft years for the NY Knicks franchise during the Dolan era. The Knicks were able to strike gold on the final pick of the first round. David Lee was selected with the 30th pick. In Lee the Knicks drafted a two-time NBA All-Star and a NBA Champion.

The Knicks also made a draft day trade in 2005. The draft rights to the 54th pick (Dijon Thompson) and Kurt Thomas were sent to the Phoenix Suns for the draft rights of the 21st pick, Quentin Richardson and cash considerations. The 21st pick materialized into Nate Robinson who turned out to be a decent role player during his career. Robinson’s career was highlighted for being a three-time NBA slam dunk champion.

2006 (Rajon Rondo, Kyle Lowry, Paul Milsap)

The Knicks drafted Renaldo Balkman at 20. But did the Knicks front office know that the 21st pick traded to the Boston Celtics from the Phoenix Suns would later become a future NBA champion, four-time NBA All-Star, two-time All NBA Defensive first team, three-time NBA assist leader, and a one-time NBA steals leader?

Maybe the Knicks did know what was in store for Rajon Rondo and felt that their future was solidified at the point guard slot with Stephon Marbury and Stevie franchise in their backcourt. If there is any truth to the previous statement that would also explain why the Knicks passed on a six-time NBA All-Star and NBA Champion that fell to Memphis three picks later. The Grizzlies selected Kyle Lowry a point guard out of Villanova with the 24th selection in the 2006 NBA Draft.

In 2006 the Knicks front office Obviously felt that they didn’t need another point guard. But did the Knicks front office feel that the roster needed more help in the backcourt? At 29 the Knicks selected Mardy Collins a shooting guard from Temple University. If the Knicks were drafting for the best available prospect the 29th pick would have been Paul Milsap. Instead the Utah Jazz were able to obtain the four-time NBA All-Star with the 47th pick in the NBA draft.

2007 (Marc Gasol)

In 2007 the Knicks selected Wilson Chandler with the 23rd pick in the NBA draft. In that same year with the 48th pick the Los Angeles Lakers selected a prospect from Spain before trading his draft rights to the Memphis Grizzlies. That prospect would emerge into a three-time NBA All-Star, First Team All-NBA, and an NBA Defensive Player of the Year. Marc Gasol in his 12th season is currently a member of the World Champion Toronto Raptors.

2008 (Brook Lopez, Roy Hibbert, DeAndre Jordan, Goran Dragic)

The Knicks select Danilo Gallinari 6th in the draft. Gallo was one of the better draft picks under Dolan. He proved to be a solid role player averaging just under 16 points per game in his third season before being shipped off to the Denver Nuggets in a trade the brought the Knicks Carmelo Anthony.

Brook Lopez was selected by the Brooklyn Nets four picks after Gallinari at 10. Lopez would later become an NBA All-Star in 2013. That same draft Roy Hibbert was chosen by the Toronto Raptors at 17th and traded to the Indiana Pacers. Hibbert developed into a two-time NBA All-Star.

In the second round of the 2008 draft the Clippers selected DeAndre Jordan with the 35th pick. Jordan blossomed into an NBA All-Star, an All NBA First Team member, a two-time First team All NBA Defensive member and a two-time NBA leading rebounder. Goran Dragic was also drafted in the second-round by the San Antonio Spurs and then traded to the phoenix Suns. Dragic became the NBA Most improved Player in 2014 and a NBA All-Star in 2018.

2009 (Demar DeRozan, Jrue Holiday, Jeff Teague)

The Knicks draft Jordan Hill at 9 and acquire the draft rights to Toney Douglas the 29th pick from the Los Angeles Lakers. One pick after Jordan Hill the Toronto raptors drafted a promising wing out of USC. The 9th pick was Demar DeRozan a four-time All-Star. At 17 the Philadelphia 76ers chose Jrue Holiday. Holiday became an All-Star in 2013 and a 2018 All NBA First Team Defensive member. The Atlanta Hawks selected Jeff Teague with the 19th pick. Teague made an All-Star appearance in 2015.

2011 (Jimmy Butler, Isaiah Thomas)

The Knicks drafted Iman Shumpert with the 17th pick and acquired the draft rights of Josh Harrellson the 45th pick for cash considerations. By doing so the Knicks missed out on Jimmy Butler a five-time All-Star and the NBA’s 2015 most improved player. The Bulls selected Butler with 30th overall pick. The Knicks also missed on Isaiah Thomas a two-time NBA All-Star. Thomas was drafted by the Sacramento kings with the last pick in the 2011 draft .

2013 (Rudy Gobert)

Tim Hardaway Jr was drafted 24th overall by the NY Knicks. Three picks later a 2020 NBA All-Star, two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year and a three-time All NBA defensive First team caliber of a player was selected. The Denver Nuggets drafted Gobert at 27th before trading his draft rights to the Utah Jazz.

2014 (Nikola Jokic)

The Knicks missed an opportunity to draft a two-time NBA All-Star and a 2019 First Team All NBA member. Instead the Knicks drafted Cleanthony Early with 34th pick. Nikola Jokic slid down the draft board to the Denver Nuggets at 41. Tim Connelly, Denver Nuggets President of Basketball Operations didn’t hesitate to draft his star player.


In 2015, the Knicks drafted their best talent since Patrick Ewing when they selected Kristaps Porzingis 4th in the draft. This selection was initially met with criticism and Knicks fans showed their displeasure with the pick by booing Porzingis on draft night. In the end, fans grew to love Porzingis when he proved his doubters wrong and became an All Star. Unfortunately his tenure with the Knicks was short lived because he tore his ACL in 2018 and was eventually traded to the Dallas Mavericks.

2017 (Donovan Mitchell, Bam Adebayo)

The Knicks drafted Frank Ntilikina 8th overall. Donovan Mitchell and Bam Adebayo slipped through the cracks. Mitchell drafted 13th by the Utah Jazz became the 2018 NBA slam dunk champion, All NBA Rookie First Team and a first time All-Star in 2020. Adebayo was selected 14th by the Miami Heat and also made his first All-Star appearance in 2020.

2018- 2019

In 2018 the Knicks drafted Kevin Knox with the 9th overall pick and Mitchell Robinson with the 36th pick. In 2019, the Knicks drafted Duke Blue Devils guard RJ Barrett third overall in the NBA Draft. The Knicks traded their 55th pick (Kyle Guy) to the Sacramento Kings for the 47th pick (Ignas Brazdeikas) and cash considerations. The early returns of the 2018 and 2019 drafts look promising but only time will tell if these were good decisions.

What Can We Expect From The New NY Knicks Front Office?

The hiring of Leon Rose to oversee the basketball operations department and Steve Stout working as the NY Knicks “brand guru” has the potential to lead to a promising future for the Knicks organization. With these two men at the forefront of things, the Knicks can widen their connections. Having relationships with celebrities and star players can attract free agents and help facilitate trades.

As an CAA agent, Leon Rose has represented Lebron James, Karl Anthony Towns, Joel Embiid, and Chris Paul. Steve Stout had relationships with big name celebrities like Jay Z, Nas, Mary J Blige, and Lebron James.This all indicates that the Knicks are attempting to use celebrity connections to get this team back on track. Having powerful connections could potentially convince a superstar free agent that the New York Knicks should be his next destination.

Young stars like Karl Anthony Towns and Joel Embiid have voiced their displeasure with their current situations, so the recent moves by the Knicks can set in motion one of these stars coming to New York. In the modern NBA, fans have become accustomed to big name players switching teams for a better shot at winning the chip. The main hurdle for the Knicks is creating a situation and culture that is conducive to winning. 

If the Knicks can not build a solid infrastructure that is welcoming to players, all these connections will go to waste. The Knicks in the 21st century are known for bad decisions and losing. Shaking that perception is key to reviving the Knicks organization.

In conclusion, James Dolan hasn’t been the most popular sports owner over the past two decades, but this recent shakeup of the Knicks front office could pay dividends in the long run. It is very hard to be successful at anything without having connections, the New York Knicks are hoping that these recent hirings will help them land a star, but this method is not guaranteed to pan out. 

In the modern era, the Knicks are mainly viewed in a negative light. Bad contracts and underwhelming draft picks has lead to several years of losing seasons. The Knicks tried to build through the draft, but failed.

In 2020, the Knicks are trying a new approach. Dolan hired Agent Leon Rose to run his Basketball Operations department. This path worked for Bob Myers and the Golden State Warriors and Rob Pelinka and the Los Angeles Lakers. Only time will tell if this approach will work for the New York Knicks as well. If Dolan’s latest move doesn’t produce any level of success, the Knicks might be condemned to another 20 years of losing and dysfunction.