If you go back more than a half-decade to the immediate aftermath of the Patrick Ewing trade, none other than Charles Barkley opined that the Knicks should be eternally confined to hell for dealing away a player who meant so much to the franchise.
Fast forward to the end of Year 1 of the Isiah Thomas/Larry Brown partnership, and the Knicks indeed find themselves in the eternal torment of salary-cap hell.
New York's payroll is projected to be upward of $125 million next season, and the Knicks have no possibility of getting underneath the salary cap for the rest of this decade.
Owner James Dolan has endorsed the string of trades that have brought more financial burden along with fewer victories, and there has been no sign whatsoever that the Knicks might stop perpetuating the formula of dealing off their expiring contracts for other high-salary players with multiple years left on their deals.
It all might have been different, however, if the Knicks had allowed Ewing to finish his career in a New York uniform. His $14 million salary would have come off the cap in the summer of 2001, and the Knicks could have dropped below the salary cap and rebuilt the standard way.
Instead, a litany of bad deals has flowed from the assets New York acquired in the Ewing trade, and that doesn't even include other deals that brought in cap killers Malik Rose (under contract for $23 million through 2008-09), Maurice Taylor (owed $9.7 million in 2006-07), Jalen Rose (owed $16.9 million next season), the $57 million extension given to Allan Houston that is now being paid by insurance or the sign-and-trade deal for Eddy Curry that will cost the Knicks their first-round pick this year and possibly next year (when the Chicago Bulls will have the right to swap picks with New York).
But beginning with the Ewing trade, the acquisition of bad contracts has snowballed. Here's a look back: