Fans of the New York Knicks have been accustomed to constant losing, because of how incompetent the Knicks have been for many years. There have been a variety of reasons for the Knicks’ long-term ineptitude with one of the biggest frailties for the Knicks over the years being their management. James Dolan, who has been the owner of the Knicks since 1999, has overseen and been partially responsible for only six playoff appearances in 21 years.
During that time, Dolan has hired many of the wrong people in the front office who have made many crucial errors throughout the years. One transaction that sticks out, in particular, was in 2002 when the Knicks decided to trade their center Marcus Camby, Mark Jackson, and the 7th overall pick in the draft, who ended up being Nene Hilario, to the Denver Nuggets for Antonio McDyess and a second-round pick.
McDyess had been a very solid player in his first six seasons with the Nuggets and the Phoenix Suns averaging 17.8 points per game and 8.8 rebounds per game. In his last season with the Nuggets, McDyess played in only 10 games, as he suffered a serious knee injury in rupturing his Patellar tendon, which kept him out for the rest of the season.
Camby, on the other hand, was a talented, hard-nosed center, who in his first six seasons showed signs of being a double-double machine and an elite rim protector. Although he did not have the same kind of scoring prowess that McDyess possessed, Camby was much more formidable on the defensive end.
Camby, similarly to McDyess, was coming off an injury-plagued 2001-02 season, as the Knicks struggled mightily without his presence and missed the playoffs for the first time in 14 years. However, the severity of Camby’s injury was not on the same level as McDyess’ knee injury.
When Camby got to Denver, his impact was not immediate, as his first two seasons with the Nuggets were not his best due to the learning curve of playing in the Western Conference and adjusting to a new situation. But as every year passed by, Camby would find ways to improve his game.
During his time with the Nuggets, Camby became a defensive stalwart by averaging three blocks per game in his six years in Denver. He even received the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award for the 2006-07 season, where he averaged 3.3 blocks per game (first in the league), 9.3 defensive rebounds per game (second in the league), and 1.24 steals per game (second among centers). Camby also led the league in blocks three years in a row from 2006-2008.
While Camby was in Denver, the Nuggets made the playoffs five times in six years, as Denver was an up and coming force in the Western Conference featuring players like Carmelo Anthony, Kenyon Martin, and Allen Iverson. As much as Camby was known for his defensive prowess during his time in Denver, he was also someone who was a great rebounder and a decent scorer as evident by averaging 10 points per game in his six years as a Nugget.
On the other hand, McDyess would sit out his entire first season with the Knicks as he was still rehabbing from his Patellar tendon injury from the previous season. He was forced to sit out the entire season after re-injuring his knee going up for a dunk in a preseason game against the Suns, which led to him having another surgery.
When he came back for the 2003-04 season, McDyess only played in 18 games for the Knicks where he averaged 8.4 points per game and only 6.6 rebounds per game.
These were not the kind of numbers that the Knicks were looking for when they traded for McDyess. Especially considering the fact that the Knicks were paying McDyess $26.1 million over two years. The Knicks ultimately decided to trade McDyess along with three other players and two first-round picks to the Phoenix Suns for Penny Hardaway and Stephon Marbury.
Looking back at the Camby for McDyess trade, you can easily see that it’s one of the worst trades in the Knicks franchise history. Unfortunately, Knicks fans have been accustomed to seeing deals like these go down, where they know from the get-go that it will probably not work out.
When I say “deals like these” I’m talking about trades where the Knicks trade a good young player and high draft picks for either an aging star/or injury-prone star. Like when they traded Trevor Ariza for Steve Francis in 2006, or when they traded a first-round pick and two second-round picks to Toronto for Andrea Bargnani, or even the trade for Marbury and Hardaway that we mentioned before.
Camby could have been a really good Knick for a long time if he wasn’t traded, but could he be the star on a team? No, but what he was throughout his career was a defensive anchor, who if he was on a good team, could be a big contributor.
Another important aspect of the deal is imagining if the Knicks kept the 7th overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft, and instead of drafting Hilario, who also had a successful career, the Knicks could have selected Amar’e Stoudemire or Caron Butler, who both were multi-time All-Stars.
It makes you wonder, why do the Knicks make these kinds of mistakes, over and over again? You think they would learn from their mistakes, but Dolan has never been afraid to make moves that don’t satisfy the fans. Dolan’s relationship with the fans is incredibly hostile, as he has thrown out for fans for yelling the “sell the team.”
They say that because they feel as long as he is in charge, the Knicks will never be able to achieve long-term success. But if he were to sell the team, for Knicks fans, it would be equivalent to winning a championship.
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