In the next edition of New York Knicks Trade History, a look back at the Larry Hughes deal with the Chicago Bulls.
On their way to payroll flexibility, the New York Knicks made a handful of transactions over the span of two years to find the cap space for 2010 NBA free agency. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Joe Johnson and Amar’e Stoudemire were among the top names available.
One of the moves saw the Knicks acquire Larry Hughes from the Chicago Bulls in a Feb. 19, 2009 trade:
What the Knicks traded
Three veterans went to the Bulls, most of whom had no long-term value to the Knicks at the time.
Tim Thomas was the most high-profile name dealt. He was amid a second stint with New York, playing 36 games there and 10 with the Los Angeles Clippers earlier in the 2008-09 NBA season.
The Bulls kept Thomas for the rest of the season, and he appeared in 18 games, before signing with the Dallas Mavericks as a free agent in July 2009.
Anthony Roberson played sparingly for the Knicks, with just 23 appearances that season. He played in six games for the Bulls and never stepped onto an NBA court for the regular season again.
Jerome James was a ridiculed signing at the time of his arrival in 2005, when then-president of basketball operations, Isiah Thomas, gave him a five-year contract in free agency. The seven-footer only appeared in 90 games in four seasons and never suited up for Chicago.
What the Knicks acquired
Hughes was the lone piece sent back to the Knicks, wrapping up a mere 58 games with the Bulls over the prior two seasons.
Chicago management eyed a Hughes trade long before this, given his sporadic playing time, as executive John Paxson told ESPN at the time:
"“Obviously with Larry Hughes’ situation, we had been looking to move him,” Bulls vice president John Paxson said. “The deal we made today was, basically, I told him and his agent, Jeff Wechsler, I would do everything in my power to move him.”"
The Knicks represented a new opportunity for Hughes to rekindle his career, after once averaging 22 points per game for the Washington Wizards years earlier. The starting lineup was open, too, which he entered 14 times down the stretch of the 2008-09 campaign, but compiling 11.2 points on 39 percent shooting.
Hughes rejoined the Knicks for 2009-10 to finish out his contract, but he struggled mightily in roles off the bench and in the starting lineup, with 9.6 points on 36.6 percent shooting.
By midseason, New York moved him as part of the Tracy McGrady deal that completed the front office’s quest for cap space. The Sacramento Kings took the veteran guard, but waived him after the deal. The Charlotte Hornets signed him for the rest of the season, which provided more lackluster results.
By 2010-11, Hughes received one more chance with the Orlando Magic, shot just 22.7 percent in nine games. It was his last NBA stint.
This move helped the New York Knicks achieve their cap aspirations, and they took a chance on a struggling player, which did not work out.