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Jerome ‘Big Snacks’ James: The Knicks’ piece-de-resistance

On this day 11 years ago, the Knicks traded Jerome ‘Big Snacks’ James to the Chicago Bulls for Larry Hughes, ending one of the most fruitless free agent signings in franchise history, which is no small distinction in New York. The background:

  • ‘Big Snacks’ (bbref has him listed as 7-foot, 300 pounds) was a fringe NBA player, averaging 4.9 points and 15.2 minutes over his first five seasons from ‘98 to ‘05 (he played two seasons overseas). 

  • In the 2005 playoffs, though, for Seattle, James had a prolonged moment, averaging 12.5 points and 6.8 rebounds in 11 games for a frisky SuperSonics team.

So, what did then-Knicks president Isiah Thomas do?

  • He totally overreacted to those 11 good games, inking James to a five-year, $60 million deal for the upcoming 2005 season. 

  • That money might not seem crazy by 2019-20 standards, but the contract was doled out at a time, in 2005, when the league's soft cap was only $49,500,000

  • Plus, the contract was piled on top of the highest payroll in the league (by $28 million) for a team that finished with a 2005-06 record of 23-59, second-worst in the league. 

  • Also: The Knicks had traded that season's pick to Chicago for Eddy Curry, so the Bulls picked second overall in the 2006 NBA Draft, in the Knicks' spot, and took LaMarcus Aldridge, who they later traded to Portland.

  • So, yes: Instead of Curry and Big Snacks on terrible contracts, the Knicks could have just drafted future star LaMarcus Aldridge.

How did James do in New York, though? To say he played terribly would be to imply he actually had an impact. His aggregate totals across four years with the Knicks:

  • 90 games played, 2.5 points per game, 7.7 minutes per game, 15 total assists. In all, he had 223 points compared to 254 combined fouls and turnovers.

  • After his trade, in 2009, the Bulls waived James, who never played another NBA game.

P.S.: Seven years later, the Knicks gave Joakim Noah a four-year, $72 million deal. Noah, who played 53 games in New York, is still getting those checks. Big Snacks taught them nothing.

Big Snacks gets crossed up by Shaq


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