The 13 Knicks Rebuilds Since their Last Title: Rebuild #7

7. The Scott Layden Rebuild


  • Scott Layden



  • Horror show — set the Knicks back 10 years. The full effects wouldn’t be felt until Layden left — the remnants of the former regime kept the Knicks treading water while Layden spun his magic — creating an unathletic, undertalented, massively overpaid roster
  • Scott Layden came in with the reputation of being a “Boy Genius” GM — the NBA equivalent of Brian Cashman of the Yankees. Dave Checketts, still president of the Knicks, had worked with Layden in Utah — so brought him in.
  • Instead of allowing Ewing to play one more year in NY, retiring to fanfare, and having his salary come off their cap so they could sign another free agent, he traded him for Glen Rice, who was washed
  • Layden compounded the problem by trading Rice for Shandon Anderson and Howard Eisley — two guards who had done well for him in Utah, but whom he then signed in Utah to overly large contracts that they didn’t play up to.
  • Draft night 2002 was tragic — going in Knick fans were anticipating what star power forward they would pick — it was considered a “can’t-miss” draft with 4 possible future all-star power forwards expected to be available for the Knicks at #7: Stoudemire (thought to have highest ceiling but both his parents were in jail and he was suspended for smoking marijuna in high school), Nene (the mystery 7 footer from Brazil), Caron Butler, or Chris Wilcox.
    • The Knicks picked Nene but then shocked Knick fans everywhere by announcing they were trading Nene WITH 27-yr-old Marcus Camby — the one Knick who played above the rim — for 28-yr-old, two-knee-operations-behind-him Antonio McDyess. Nobody expected McDyess to blow out his knee two more times — but at best he was a star — not a franchise player that one hoped Stoudemire would be. And to throw in the All Star Camby — devastating.

  • By the end of his 4 years, Layden had compiled a horrific team that had only one player of value that anyone wanted (Kurt Thomas whom previous GM Ernie Grunfeld snatched up in 1999) — despite a massive team payroll of over $102 Million in 2004, almost twice the cap of $52 Million at the time, with contracts signed 4 years out into the future. The Knicks had:
    • Dikembe Mutombo at center — 37 yrs old and couldn’t move 2 inches left or right anymore
    • The most incredible assemblage of undersized, undertalented power forwards ever — headed by Clarence Weatherspoon who seemed to get his shot blocked every time he tried to do a layup inside; Othella Harrington — the decent lefty power forward; Mike Sweetney the #9 overall pick who the Knicks weren’t playing (before he ate himself out of the league); and Marcel Lampe who Layden was telling Knick fans was the steal of the draft and would be the Knicks franchise player of the future.
      • the undersized 6’6″ power forward Weatherspoon had been an 18 ppg/10 rpg player when he was 23 in Philly, but Layden signed him to the big free agent contract when he was 31 — his lift was gone
    • Keith Van Horn at small forward
    • Allan Houston at shooting guard — whom the Knicks needlessly resigned to a multi-year massive contract extension ($100 million for 6 more years in 2001) even though his knees were shot
    • Charlie Ward at point — who was about to retire
    • Shandon Anderson and Howard Eisley also in the backcourt — undertalented and overpaid

The End

  • After 4 years, owner James Dolan pulled the plug, firing Layden and replacing him with Isiah Thomas. According to the NY media at the time, Thomas was given an impossible job — turn over this roster — unathletic with players nobody wanted and signed 4 years into the future. And so it was on to Rebuild #8…

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