In 1999 James Dolan son of a successful businessman inherited control of the New York Knicks the team now under his stewardship had a reputation in a rough-and-tumble era of basketball the Knicks were among the roughest and the tum lists beloved by the locals and loathed by everyone else the Knicks had been a perennial runner up in the dense Eastern Conference repeatedly falling short of the finals because of the Bulls Heat and Pacers but they were good and right before Dolan took over New York experienced an unexpected breakthrough Jeff Van Gundy's defense still ranked among the best in the league.
Cornerstone Center Patrick Ewing was aging but still productive when healthy Allan Houston and Larry Johnson stepped up as Ewing scoring workload diminished Charlie Ward was the stalwart point guard and entering a strange 99 season prefaced by Michael Jordan's retirement and delayed until the end of a lockout New York GM Ernie Grunfeld made bold moves he jettisoned to 90s icons to bring in some new blood Marcus Camby a loping leaping stringbean Center entering his prime Latrell Sprewell a star scorer getting his career back on track after a long suspension for attacking his coach in Golden State and Kurt Thomas a sturdy big man who fit the team's style and attitude perfectly.
The compressed 99 season contained plenty of drama the newcomers took awhile to get going Ewing struggled with an Achilles injury friction between grünfeld and man Gundy contributed to the executives late season demotion plus a lingering feeling that the coach might get fired a regular contender almost missed the playoffs entirely but something miraculous happened even as an eight seed even as you and gradually succumb to his injury the Knicks crapped out a run to the NBA Finals upsetting longtime rivals along the way only the nation powerhouse Spurs could stop them by even reaching the finals the Knicks rekindled a fire that could illuminate the next decade.
After some minor turmoil New York had plenty of hope that they could transition into a new era of being the usual but in compelling NICs they just had to keep nurturing the new core thoughtfully managing the old one and playing the way they are I can't do this anymore let's just get to the bad part after the finals the Knicks took their time finding replacement for Grunfeld so they did the 99 NBA draft without a general manager with the 15th pick New York took French Center Frederic Weis / beloved local product run our tests Weis never came to the NBA and would be best known as Vince Carter's pommel horse in the Olympics.
New York's roster stood pat as they didn't find a GM until August they hired Scott Layden the guy who'd helped build the Utah Jazz into a powerhouse things otherwise returned to normal in the 99 2000 season Dolan quietly took over as chairman Ewing stayed relatively healthy at least for the regular season Houston had his best year yet the Knicks won 50 games swept the Raptors in the first round of the playoffs edged the Heat thanks to Ewing's rousing last-second Duncan game seven then this guy again Indiana made a big comeback in Game five of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Then Reggie Miller torched the Knicks in game 6 to deny them another run to the NBA Finals not that it would have led to anything anyway Phil Jackson once rumored to be gunning for Van Gundy's job had seized upon something way more fruitful in LA all told 50 wins and a road block in the Eastern Conference Finals constituted business as usual but challenges loomed for Layden in the summer of 2000 Ewing entering the final year of his contract wanted an extension and he was in a touchy spot having heard lots of people suggest the Knicks played better while injuries sidelined him during parts of the last two postseasons he'd also just had knee surgery again.
Laden was not particularly sensitive to Ewing's touchiness he wouldn't bite the bullet and let the big man play out his Twilight in New York no extension so with both parties understanding that another year together was going to be very awkward the Knicks moved to trade one of the greatest players in franchise history away from the only team he'd ever played for the Knicks had minimal leverage and trade talks since Ewing was decrepit and other teams knew they were desperate to end an increasingly untenable relationship in August New York assembled an arleigh for Team 13 player deal but it fell through when Detroit bailed and found a preferable way to trade Christian later a month.
After that embarrassment the Knicks finally got it done a four team 12 player deal that included the Sonics the Lakers and now the Suns in place of the Pistons instead of keeping their homegrown legend happy the Knicks dumped him for this the best returning player was guard forward Glen Rice a fading star who was kind of redundant with Houston and Sprewell Rice came with a hefty new contract so did luc longley who the Knicks knew wasn't healthy enough to play much besides those two the return package was back up Center Travis Knight a bunch of dudes who would never actually play for the Knicks and some first-round draft picks that Layton didn't even want he would soon trade them for veterans.