New York Knicks

Ariza was picked at No. 43 by the Knicks after one season at UCLA.
Kent Horner/NBAE/Getty Images
No. 8, No. 30 (from Pho. via S.A.), No. 54 (from Hou.)
Jermaine Jackson (unrestricted)
Bruno Sundov (unrestricted)
2004: 43. Trevor Ariza, UCLA
2003: 9. Michael Sweetney, Georgetown
30. Maciej Lampe, Spain
39. Slavko Vranes, Serbia & Montenegro
2002: 7. Nene Hilario, Brazil
36. Milos Vujanic, Yugoslavia
2001: 39. Michael Wright, Ariz.
43. Eric Chenowith, Kansas
2000: 22. Donnell Harvey, Fla.
39. Lavor Postell, St. John's
By Bill Evans

When the 2004-05 season began: Noboby was mistaking the Knicks for title contenders, but the tandem of Stephon Marbury and new acquisition Jamal Crawford gave New York fans reason to believe the playoffs were in reach.

What happened? Things went according to plan in November/December, as the Knicks ended 2004 with a 16-13 record.

Then came January. Inexplicably, the Knicks were 2-13, plummeting into the abyss never to be heard from again. Coach Lenny Wilkens didnít last the month, resigning on January 22. He was replaced by Herb Williams for the remainder of the season. The team finished 33-49.

Marbury (21.7 ppg, 8.1 apg) and Crawford (17.7 ppg, 4.3 apg) both lived up to expectations. The supporting cast underwhelmed, however, as nobody else averaged more than 12 points per game. Allan Houston and Anfernee Hardaway, both former All-Stars, were plagued by injuries.

Young forwards Michael Sweetney and Trevor Ariza were afforded quality minutes that hastened their development. Their minutes came at the expense of Tim Thomas, Jerome Williams, Maurice Taylor and Malik Rose, whose contributions failed to match their salaries.

What now? Iím sure Isiah Thomas has asked himself that question more than once during his tenure in New York, for there is no quick solution to the cap problems facing his team. Nine of his players were paid $5 million or more last season, and none will come off the book before the end of next season.

Though Thomas has been adept at trading troublesome contracts in return for troublesome contracts, his best chance at an influx of inexpensive talent will come via the draft, where New York holds picks No. 8, No. 30 and No. 54.

With a stable of All-Stars past, present and future in the backcourt, the emphasis in the New York draft room will probably be up front, where the team boasts nobody over 6-9 except Tim Thomas, who isnít known for his muscle in the paint.