New York Knicks: The Latrell Sprewell trade, 20 years later

New York Knicks Latrell Sprewell (Photo by: Mitchell Layton/NBAE/Getty Images)
New York Knicks Latrell Sprewell (Photo by: Mitchell Layton/NBAE/Getty Images) /

A 1999 trade changed the look of the New York Knicks and brought Latrell Sprewell to the organization.

In this latest edition of New York Knicks Trade History, it takes a look back at the Latrell Sprewell trade with the Golden State Warriors in the late ’90s, which brought in a main scorer for the competitive early ’00s teams.

Sprewell arrived with baggage. From threatening then-head coach PJ Carlesimo to fighting Byron Houston in practice, much happened with this controversial player during his Warriors stint. It even resulted in a lengthy suspension to close his time there in 1998; but the Knicks acquired him anyway.

What the Knicks traded

In a 3-for-1 trade, New York sent out Terry Cummings, Chris Mills and John Starks.

Cummings was well past his prime at that point, playing at age 36 in the most recent season. He appeared in 72 games for the Warriors and retired afterward.

Mills was a top reserve for the Knicks in 1997-98, and he spent five seasons in Golden State. However, injuries derailed him and led to just 169 games played in this span.

Starks was a main contributor for most of the ’90s Knicks success. From the 19-point average in 1993-94 to creating a run to that season’s NBA Finals, he helped spread the floor and was a top three-point shooter, although streaky. When this trade happened, though, the Oklahoma State product was entering his age-33 season and coming off a down year.

Starks spent parts of two seasons with the Warriors, before moving to Chicago and Utah for another 145 games.

What the Knicks acquired

Sprewell arrived before the lockout-shortened season started, and he played in 37 of a possible 30 games in 1999. That year’s Knicks squad only made the No. 8 seed, as well, but they pushed to the NBA Finals, featuring 20.8 points per game in the postseason from the enigmatic shooting guard.

Sprewell settled into a starting role for the rest of his Knicks term, which included 19.4 points per game in a startling 41.1 minutes, in 81 games, in 2001-02. He was among the leading players amid roster changes, pairing with Allan Houston to provide two quality scorers in the early millenium.

Controversy followed when Sprewell sued the New York Post for a report of how he broke his hand. He lost the lawsuit and played out the 2002-03 season with the Knicks, but left via trade just months afterward.

Sprewell was out of the NBA at age 34, after two seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

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While rocky at times, this trade contributed to a handful of winning seasons for the New York Knicks, benefiting them in the short-term.