3. New York Knicks essentially light $30M on fire, sign Jerome James
Altogether, the mid-2000s were a rough time for the New York Knicks. Many of the team’s failures can be chalked up to the man in charge, legendary Detroit Pistons point guard Isiah Thomas. Thomas was the general manager of the Knicks from 2003-2008. Thomas was responsible for the Jared Jeffries contract and the decision to sign Jerome James to a five-year, $30 million contract in the summer of 2005.
James had just come off an impressive playoff outing with the Seattle Supersonics, averaging 12.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game while playing an average of 26.8 minutes each time.
His numbers were eye-catching but were certainly an outlier. Throughout the regular season that year, James had scored just 4.9 points per game in 16.1 minutes a night. He was also 29 years old at the time. It’s not like there was the “oh, this young guy might be finding his footing in the league” factor to it, either.
Thomas and the Knicks’ front office overreacted and inked the big man to a long-term deal. His tenure in New York got off to a rocky start, as mid-way through the first year of his contract, the $30 million man was essentially suspended for being out of shape.
The suspension was a real tone-setter for his time with the Knicks as a whole. James played in just 90 games over the course of four seasons in New York. His averages were abysmal for someone making the money that he was. James scored just 2.5 points per game as a Knick, which makes it far less surprising that Getty Images didn’t have a photo of him in a Knicks uniform.