The New York Knicks have mostly been a laughingstock under owner James Dolan. They reached the NBA Finals in his first year, but have made the playoffs just eight times since 1999. Gone are the days of the Knicks being a perennial contender, but they could be returning after their run to the second round of the playoffs in 2023.
The Knicks’ woes under Dolan have stemmed from mismanagement. There was Isiah Thomas’s horrific reign (subscription required) as president of basketball operations in the early 2000s. After his departure, New York churned through six lead executives in 12 years, including an abysmal reign by Phil Jackson, before Leon Rose took over in 2020.
The Knicks have been plagued by poor decisions, including holding onto talent for far too long. This piece looks at some regrettable choices management made with their talent in franchise history.
Players the New York Knicks held onto for too long
13. Derrick Rose
Rose will be one of the great NBA what-ifs after tearing his ACL in the 2012 NBA Playoffs altered his career. He was the youngest MVP in league history and a three-time All-Star before suffering the injury at 23 years old. Rose never fully recovered and the injuries continued to pile up.
The Knicks originally acquired D-Rose in 2016 with Justin Holiday and a second-round draft pick for Jose Calderon, Jerian Grant, and Robin Lopez. Rose averaged 18.0 points per game, but the Knicks won just 37 and missed the playoffs for the fourth straight year.
The 28-year-old departed in free agency only to be traded back in 2021 for Dennis Smith Jr. and a second-round pick. Rose was a backup by this point in his career, and he had a productive 35 games with the Knicks to close the 2020-21 season. The 32-year-old even turned back the clock in the playoffs to average 19.4 points, 5.0 assists, and 4.0 rebounds in 35.0 minutes per game as the Hawks bounced New York in the first round.
Rose became a free agent after that run, and New York rewarded him with a three-year, $43 million deal, which quickly became a regret. He played just 53 games over two seasons, including falling out of the rotation entirely for stretches. The Knicks declined their team option in 2023, and Rose departed for Memphis in free agency.
The New York Knicks should have let him walk in free agency, but they overpaid to keep him and regretted it.