The New York Knicks have made some bad moves over the last couple of decades. Okay; a lot of bad moves. As a result, coming up with any list of the Knicks’ worst decisions is a significant challenge.
But how about we take on the tall task of naming New York’s worst free-agent signings?
Here are the five worst free-agent signings in Knicks history:
5. Amar’e Stoudemire (Five years, $100 million in 2010)
This one is tough, because at the time, it looked like a solid move for the Knicks.
Remember: this was the 2010 free-agent class that included LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, all of whom opted to sign with the Miami Heat (or in Wade’s case, re-sign there).
As a result, New York—which had been pursuing all three of those players—had to settle for Stoudemire, who was still one of the best free agents on the market.
The thing was, Stoudemire had a rather extensive injury history, which everyone knew going into the deal.
Stoudemire’s first season in the Big Apple was just fine. He played in 78 games, averaged 25.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game and led the Knicks to their first playoff appearance since 2004.
But after that, Stoudemire appeared in 47, 29 and 65 contests, respectively, before getting bought out midway through the 2014-15 campaign after participating in 36 games.
I completely understand why New York signed Amar’e; it just didn’t work out.
4. Jared Jeffries (Five years, $30 million in 2006)
To this day, it’s still hard to comprehend just what the Knicks were thinking when they gave Jared Jeffries a five-year deal (then again, it is the Knicks we are talking about here).
Jeffries was coming off of a 2005-06 campaign with the Washington Wizards in which he averaged a pedestrian 6.4 points and 4.9 rebounds per game while posting a true-shooting percentage of 50 percent.
Yet, somehow, New York felt he was worth a lengthy contract.
It didn’t take long for the Knicks to figure out that they made a mistake, as Jeffries logged just 4.1 points and 4.3 boards in 55 games in his debut season.
He played three-and-a-half seasons with New York before being traded to the Houston Rockets midway through 2009-10, and you know what the best part is? The Knicks actually re-acquired Jeffries off waivers the following year.
3. Jerome James (Five years, $30 Million in 2005)
Remember that time the Knicks signed Jerome James to be their starting center and he proceeded to start just 20 games in four seasons with the club?
If anyone owes their career pay day to one decent playoff run, it’s James.
After averaging 12.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game during the 2005 playoffs with the Seattle Supersonics, James suddenly found himself to be a sought-after big man on the free-agent market. Well, sought-after by the Knicks, anyway.
New York completely ignored the fact that James posted just 4.9 points and three boards a night throughout the entirety of the 2004-05 campaign overall and the fact the he never averaged six points per game in any one season.
Not surprisingly, James played in just 45 games in his first season with the Knicks and 41 in his second. In the third and fourth years of his deal? James appeared in a grand total of four contests. He was traded to the Chicago Bulls midway through the 2008-09 campaign.
2. Eddy Curry (Six years, $60 Million in 2005)
The Knicks landed Eddy Curry in a sign-and-trade with the Bulls in October 2005, handing him $10 million a year in the process.
At the time, it looked like a move that could potentially pay off, as there was no doubting Curry’s talent. However, he had a congenital heart condition, and what some may have called laziness on his part may have been due to his heart issues.
Regardless, the Curry signing did not exactly work out for New York.
He did have a rather strong season in his second year, averaging 19.5 points and seven rebounds per game while shooting a robust 57.6 percent from the floor. Sure, his defense left much to be desired, but there was no denying his offensive talent.
But that was where the road essentially ended for Curry.
He played in 59, three and seven games over the next three seasons, respectively, before the Knicks traded him to the Minnesota Timberwolves in February 2011 (he didn’t actually play during the 2010-11 campaign at all).
Curry is absolutely one of those “what could have been” stories in the NBA.
1. Joakim Noah (Four years, $72 Million in 2016)
This was when everyone figured out that Phil Jackson was simply not cut out to be an NBA executive.
Had Jackson signed Joakim Noah to this deal in 2013? Fine. But in 2016? When Noah had already stacked up multiple injuries (he played in just 29 games during his final season in Chicago) and was barely even a shell of the player he once was?
Noah played in 46 games during his first season with the Knicks, recording five points and 8.8 rebounds per game. He missed almost half the year due to injuries and a drug suspension.
The following season? Noah appeared in seven contests.
New York ended up waiving Noah in October 2018 and had to stretch the $19.3 million he was due in 2019-20 (what would have been the final year of his deal) across multiple seasons.
Now, the Knicks are paying Noah $6.431 million a year through 2021-22.
The cherry on top? That money counts toward New York’s salary cap.
Noah was, unquestionably, the worst free-agent signing in Knicks history.