Arizona players who have taken a bite out of the Big Apple playing with the New York Knicks have come away feeling sick to their stomachs.
Kadeem Allen and Allonzo Trier were released by the Knicks in the last two days, adding to the peculiarly bad history between the Wildcats and the NBA franchise. It’s true these guys were signed to two-way contracts as undrafted free agents, but the Knicks are also the NBA franchise with the most first-round selections of Arizona players — three of them among the top 10 — and those players lasted in New York only a combined seven years.
The dubious history all started after Larry Demic became Arizona’s initial first-round selection in program history, taken ninth overall by the Knicks in the 1979 draft.
The 6-foot-9, 255-pound power forward played in 206 games, and never started, in three years before the Knicks released him. He had a promising rookie season averaging 7.0 points and 5.9 rebounds a game but then gradually faded away. He was not re-signed and played his last three professional seasons in the CBA and at the Philippines and Puerto Rico.
Channing Frye was taken by the Knicks as the No. 8 pick overall in the 2005 NBA draft.
Frye had a productive rookie season averaging 12.3 points and 5.8 rebounds a game in 63 games, 14 of them starts. By his third season, those numbers were down to 6.8 points and 4.5 rebounds a game. The Knicks dealt him after his third season to Portland with Steve Francis with the Knicks getting Dan Dickau, Fred Jones and Zach Randolph. Frye went on to play 13 seasons in the NBA and won a title with Cleveland and LeBron James in 2016.
In the 2009 NBA draft, Jordan Hill was also selected by the Knicks as the eighth overall pick.
After playing in only 24 games with the Knicks his rookie season, Hill was dealt to Houston as part of a three-team trade with the Sacramento Kings. Hill would last eight seasons in the NBA with his most productive season coming in 2014-15 with Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers when Hill averaged 12.0 points and 7.9 rebounds a game.
The late Michael Wright was taken in the second round of the 2001 draft by the Knicks. He never played a game in the NBA, waived in the preseason. The Knicks determined he was too small to be a power forward in the NBA at 6-8 and 238 and did not have small forward skills. Wright went on to play 14 seasons overseas.
Other Wildcats who played with the Knicks:
— Mike Bibby ended his 14-year NBA career in New York in the 2011-12 season averaging 2.6 points and 2.5 assists in 39 games.
— Etdrick Bohannon, who transferred from Arizona to Tennessee and then to Auburn-Montgomery, played in two games with the Knicks within a 10-day contract in 1999-2000.
— Ben Davis played parts of two seasons with the Knicks from 1997 to 1999. He played in only 15 games in those season with 34 total minutes played.
— Chris Mills, after four good seasons with Cleveland to start his career, was signed by the Boston Celtics, who traded him to the Knicks before the 1997-98 season. Mills lasted only one year in New York averaging just 9.7 points and 5.1 rebounds a game after posting 12.5 points and 5.4 rebounds a game in his four seasons with the Cavs. He started only 29 games for the Knicks after starting 79 games in each of his last three seasons with Cleveland. Mills was traded after that one season to the Golden State Warriors in a deal that included sending Latrell Sprewell to the Knicks.
— Derrick Williams spent the entire 2015-16 season with the Knicks and had promising numbers with 9.3 points and 3.7 rebounds a game in 80 games, nine of them starts. After that season, New York renounced its free-agent exception rights to Williams and let him go.
Kadeem Allen and Allonzo Trier are the latest two Arizona players to go into the abyss that is the New York Knicks.
Allen was waived for the second time by the Knicks on Thursday. His first release was during the preseason of 2018-19, but the Knicks brought him back midway through that season with a two-way contract. He averaged 9.9 points and 4.0 assists in 19 games with the Knicks in 2018-19, but he played sparingly in 10 games this season before COVID-19 forced postponement of the league’s games.
Trier was waived today after only two seasons with the Knicks, who signed him to a free-agent two-way contract before the 2018-19 season. Trier played in 88 games with only four starts. He averaged 9.7 points.
That’s 11 former Arizona players with the Knicks — three of them taken among the first 10 picks of the draft — with none of them playing with that franchise beyond three seasons. Combined, the 11 players played in parts of 17 seasons with the Knicks, an average of only 1.5 seasons per player.
The Knicks have released or not re-signed eight of them and traded three others, including Mills and Hill within less than a year with the team.
An Arizona player heading to New York to play with the Knicks from here on out better rent or bunk with a teammate.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.