The New York Knicks are one of the most storied franchises in the NBA. They have quite a rich history that includes more than a few headline-grabbing narratives.
What we will be focusing on, however, are a number of potentially franchise-altering trade deals that the Knicks allegedly came close to, but for one reason or another, never came to fruition.
Melo to the Clippers
Carmelo Anthony will go down in history as one of the best players in Knicks franchise history. It is no secret, however, that the team was eager to trade him away once they realized that it was time to move on. Before New York offloaded Anthony to the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2017, another rumored destination for him was the Los Angeles Clippers.
A recent article by our very own Tomer Azarly presented the details of this botched deal, which would have brought Jamal Crawford, Paul Pierce, and Austin Rivers to New York.
That would have been a pretty good deal for the Knicks, but in hindsight, the Thunder trade ended up being the better deal, especially considering how one of the pieces of that deal was a second-round pick in 2018, which resulted in one Mitchell Robinson.
What makes this trade so intriguing, though, is how it reportedly led to the beginning of the end of the “Lob City” Clippers era. Chris Paul, who is good friends with Anthony, allegedly criticized Doc Rivers for not green-lighting the deal under the presumption that he did not want to trade away his son, Austin. Paul left L.A. that same summer.
It's Miller Time
Back in the 1990s, when Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls dynasty was in full swing, the Knicks were desperate to somehow take down their long-time nemesis in the Bulls.
So much so, that they reportedly tried to trade for one of New York's fiercest rivals in Reggie Miller of the Indiana Pacers. Much like Jordan — on a different level, of course — Miller was a thorn in the side of the Knicks as well. However, desperate times call for desperate measures.
In the summer of 1996, the Knicks allegedly came very close to acquiring Reggie Miller. To serve as proof, we have this excerpt from a 1998 Daily News article:
The candidates were winnowed down to Miller and Allan Houston. Miller was a proven commodity under pressure, a natural attraction. Miller had the personality for the place… The Knicks finally signed [Allan] Houston, while Miller was in Atlanta for the 1996 Olympics. The Indiana player got the news at the U.S. team's hotel, and went whining to U.S. teammate Grant Hill of the Pistons. “Your guy just ruined my plans,” Miller told Hill.
Technically speaking, Miller was a free agent at that time and could have signed for the Knicks for free. However, given how he was such a prized asset by Indiana, they may have conjured up some form of sign-and-trade deal in order to at least get something out of Miller's departure.
Then again, even if this was not the case, the fact that New York was willing to bring on a sworn enemy was just too crazy not to include in our list.
Kobe Takes on The Big Apple
Towards the tail end of the career of the late, great Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers, unfortunately, were not a very good team. So much so, that Kobe was reportedly worried that the front office was going to blow up the roster in order to kickstart a revamp.
This would entail the Lakers parting ways with Kobe and his huge contract. After all, if the team wanted a fresh start, they needed to get Bryant's humongous salary off their books.
Sounds crazy? Well, just take it from none other than NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Woj narrated how Kobe himself believed a shock move away from the Lakers was impending:
Once, we were having dinner at Javier's in Newport Beach and out of nowhere began one of our strangest conversations: Kobe was convinced that Lakers president Jim Buss wanted to amnesty the remaining money and years on his contract and force him to leave the Lakers. He had no evidence, just a hunch.
“That is never happening,” I told him. “They'd burn the city down.”
“I think he wants to do it,” Kobe insisted.
Well, what would happen then?
“I'll go to New York and play for Phil [Jackson].”
At the end of the day, we all know that this never happened. Perhaps this was just Kobe being paranoid because after all, as Woj implied, the backlash on Buss and the front office would have been catastrophic if they opted to part ways with Bryant.
As for the Knicks, they certainly would have jumped at that opportunity. If a trade deal was at all feasible, then we're willing to bet that New York would have been more than willing to give up a number of the prized assets just to be able to bring Kobe to The Big Apple.