Today’s article is by supernova. This is third place in the “Can You Be A KnickerBlogger?” Contest. As I mentioned previously, winners will receive a copy of Dave Berri’s book Stumbling on Wins.
David Lee has been the best Knick these past two seasons. Through dedication and hard work, he has raised the level of his game to make himself into a consistent double-double machine, and an All Star. In addition, to his solid offensive and rebounding statistics, he brings a consistent work ethic, so any team that ends up signing him can feel assured that even with a huge guaranteed contract they will still get a quality effort..
With that said, then why do I feel whoever ends up acquiring Lee in free agency will ultimately be disappointed?
I guess I base my concerns on watching him all these years and realizing that for all those good numbers, he never made us remotely into a winner. Yes, one player does not a team make, but he never seemed to make the team around him better, at least not appreciably. Anecdotally, he seemed to save his best for the first three quarters, but I do not remember too many occasions where he took control down the stretch of tight games.
We have all complained so much about D’Antoni’s lack of emphasis on defense. Well there was probably no bigger culprit in regards to that deficiency on the floor than David Lee (okay maybe Sergio Rodriguez). Lee in fact all but admitted that deficiency in his game a few days ago when he said that he would focus on improving his defense in the off-season. Maybe I am being a bit harsh on him here, since he was playing out of position at center and matching up against guys who were significantly taller. In terms of playing out of position, he gets a bit of a pass, but much of playing defense is speed and quickness, which Lee somewhat lacks. I do not know how at almost 27 years old, he is suddenly going to improve that part of his game. In my opinion, if it hasn’t happened already after four years in the league, it probably will not happen in this case.
Finally, should Lee soon be on a team with quality teammates his overall rebounding will probably suffer somewhat. On this past Knicks team, nobody consistently rebounded much other than Lee. His next stop will probably include a team of multiple rebounding options on the floor, and more efficient scorers (less opportunities on the offensive boards), which will both combine to reduce his total number of rebounds. In terms of scoring I believe his numbers very well could stay where they are, because although his opportunities might be limited (a team of greater and more efficient scorers), he will still make his fair share of putback chances.
Overall, I am still a big fan of David Lee’s, but a fan at the $7 million to maybe $9 million dollar level. Based on what I have been reading and hearing he will probably command somewhere in the $12-$14 million range. I will always be a big David Lee fan and I will certainly be sorry if he does leave NY, but regrettably, I would have to agree with not paying him anywhere near that level. If Donnie Walsh ends up paying him that much dough it would simply leave me with buyer’s remorse.