Judging Allan Houston by his on the court persona, it’s hard not to like the guy. Houston’s jump shot was picture perfect, straight out of a basketball text book. Using his height and a quick pull up, Allan only needed a few inches of space between him and his defender to score. Number 20′s range extended from beyond the arc, and he was automatic from the charity stripe. Houston provided a valuable scoring presence on a Knick team that badly needed it, and he hit his fair share of big shots. For 10 seasons Houston was extremely durable, never missing more than 6 games in any of those seasons. Even after his body broke down, he tried to play through the pain for a Knicks team that had no hopes of a championship.
However there was another aspect of Allan Houston that was intertwined with his on court self. When the Knicks signed Houston to a $100M dollar contract in July of 2001, a transformation occurred. He went from a franchise savior to franchise millstone. From valuable to overrated. From a respectable player to the league joke. Houston’s retirement should be a reminder that today’s sports world is hand in hand with the financial. It’s no coincidence that the Knicks made 14 straight playoff appearances before they resigned Houston, and only twice since. As one of the better shooting guards of his time he aided his team on the court, while his contract harmed them off of it. Many fans recognize that it was the Ewing trade that hampered the Knicks ability to improve themselves through free agency. Nonetheless it would be Houston’s contract a year later that cemented the door shut.
There isn’t a basketball historian that would argue the Knicks would have been better on the court in 2002 with Shandon Anderson as their starting shooting guard, but I would doubt that you would find one that would have given Allan Houston that 7 year deal. That’s the rub with modern sports. A team can get a good player and seemingly improve their team in the short term, but if they are fiscally irresponsible the long term effects can be damaging.