8. Robin Lopez
Most of the players on this list either began their careers with the New York Knicks or joined them as young players. Robin Lopez played half of his career before coming to the Knicks, spending seven seasons in the Western Conference before arriving in New York in 2015 as an unrestricted free agent.
Lopez had a great season for the Knicks, starting all 82 games and averaging 10.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game. The Knicks were a 30-win team that season with Carmelo Anthony, a rookie Kristaps Porzingis and little else; Lopez led all rotation players in win shares per 48 minutes — he was not the reason they had a losing season.
The Knicks had Lopez under contract for another three seasons at $13.5 million per season. With Porzingis at the 4 and Anthony at the 3, their task should have been to build out the backcourt and the bench. The Knicks decided to do so by trading for Derrick Rose, sending Lopez packing and reuniting Tom Thibodeau with his former MVP. The reunions continued, as the Knicks were comfortable shipping out Lopez because they were signing Joakim Noah to a four-year, $72 million contract.
Instead of a 28-year-old Lopez who had just played all 82 games for $13.5 million per season, the Knicks decided on Joakim Noah: 31 years old, coming off of multiple injuries. After playing just 29 games the season before, Noah would last only 46 for the Knicks that season and played just 7 the next before he was waived. Derrick Rose played just 64 games with the Knicks in a year plagued by off-court issues before he left and signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Lopez played 81 games the next season in Chicago and averaged 73 games a year over the rest of that contract. He wasn’t a star, but he was a steady option at center. The Knicks could have used their resources in so many better ways than trading for Rose and signing Noah.