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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Lee Talks

At a basketball camp, David Lee speaks on his contract situation, courtesy of the Lower Hudson Journal News:

“It’s been a little frustrating, but my agent came up a couple of weeks ago and we had a meeting with Donnie Walsh and Mike D’Antoni and found out where we were, and the purpose behind what’s going on, and it kind of all makes sense to me now,” Lee said. “We agreed on what I thought I was worth, so it’s not a money issue. What it comes down to is they need their flexibility for the 2010 summer. Whether they can get LeBron or not, they need to have the flexibility to make a run at a guy like that. And that’s completely understandable from my standpoint. We’re going to continue to work on a few sign-and-trade possibilities; otherwise, we’ll continue to work on a one-year-deal.”

Very few teams are spending money, so there haven’t been any free-agent offers, which the Knicks have the right to match. There was a meeting with Portland in Las Vegas, but there was little common ground.

A sign-and-trade would be extremely difficult since there are strict base-year-compensation rules that could get in the way.

“It has to be something where the Knicks can dump another salary or get another player in return they really want to have around,” Lee said. “There’s a couple of possibilities out there, and we’ll see if those come true, otherwise we’ll start talking to the Knicks about what we want to do for a one-year deal.”

I think a majority of Knick fans want to see Lee in a long term deal now, but from his words it seems unlikely. Walsh wants the financial freedom for 2010 and if he doesn’t sign Lee to a long term deal now, then he’s willing to risk losing him as an unrestricted free agent next year to accomplish that goal. It appears that Lee wants to stay in New York, and perhaps things may turn out this way. However Knick fans are likely going to have to wait until next summer to see where he ultimately lands.

32 comments on “Lee Talks

  1. Jafa

    1-Year Deal? At first I don’t like it, but then I realize D Lee is in for a rude awakening next summer, so we’ll get him then even cheaper that what we may pay this summer…

  2. cgreene

    Bottom line: As of today Lee is the best player on the team. He is not a franchise player. Can we really afford to lose our best asset for nothing on the hope that some great player will decide to sign with the Knicks next year? I say no. A one year deal is a mistake. A bird in the hand.

  3. ess-dog

    It’s a pretty unusual situation: The best player in the league becoming a free agent in his prime, and not showing a preferred destination. I think any player would understand their team wanting this guy. If you’re Lee, how could you not want to play with Lebron? Maybe he gets a 1 year deal with a handshake based on a “what if” situation? I’m sure the Knicks have already outlined what they will spend on the major free agents and what they’ll have left for Lee based on what happens. Although I think he’ll draw serious interest in 2010, if we get Lebron and/or other stars, I’d think we would be tops on his list of destinations. Since his ‘worth’ is agreed upon, the rest can be figured out. Of course if he has a lousy season this year or gets injured, that could change. And maybe I’m being a Pollyanna, but I could see a situation where Lee and Nate both sign for one year deals and then are brought into the fold after the high profile free agents are dealt with. Walsh clearly knows how the offseason is prioritized in terms of leverage and value.

  4. Thomas B.

    “Can we really afford to lose our best asset for nothing on the hope that some great player will decide to sign with the Knicks next year? I say no. A one year deal is a mistake. A bird in the hand.”

    I dont know, CG. The bird in the hand thing has merit if what you have in hand is equal to or better than what is in the bush. But here, the bird in our hand is Lee the sparrow (a fairly common bird). In the bush, are two big fat juicy turkeys (Wade and LBJ). That sparrow is not going to feed us. I say drop him and go for the turkeys.

    Even if you miss the turkeys we have enough money to get a new sparrow and maybe a duck or two. So in the end you lose little.

  5. Thomas B.

    “1-Year Deal? At first I don’t like it, but then I realize D Lee is in for a rude awakening next summer, so we’ll get him then even cheaper that what we may pay this summer…”

    Not sure it works that way. Lee would still count against our cap until we relenquish his rights. We would need his cap space to sign Wade or LBJ, unless we found a way to move Curry or JJ for an expiring contract before the trade deadline. That is a big unless.

    If Lee signs a 1 year deal, he is most likely gone after that.

  6. Mike Kurylo Post author

    “Not sure it works that way. Lee would still count against our cap until we relenquish his rights. We would need his cap space to sign Wade or LBJ, unless we found a way to move Curry or JJ for an expiring contract before the trade deadline. That is a big unless.”

    Which is the part that confuses me about Walsh. If he’s planning on resigning Lee to a long term deal next year, doesn’t it make sense to do it this year instead? Lee’s price will be lower (I assume as an restricted FA) now than next year when lots of teams will be able to bid on his services without worrying about tying up money as the Knicks considering matching. If they sign him to a one year deal, the cap hold will be bigger than what we’d likely be paying him anyway.

    Not sure what to think here. Maybe Lee wants to stay in NY long enough there’s an understanding between them. But then you’d think Lee would have to sign a deal very early in Free Agency next year – to lower that cap hold.

  7. Caleb

    Walsh can’t sign Lee to a long-term deal unless Lee wants to sign it… and it sounds like DL would rather test the waters next summer. From a financial perspective, I can’t blame him.. although I don’t think he’ll get all that much more.

    Re-signing Lee after a one-year deal is possible, but tricky. Until he’s re-signed, his cap hold is 150% of his salary — i.e. something around $9 million, even if he plays 2009-2010 for just $6 million.

    The picture might be clearer next June — LeBron, Bosh, Wade, etc. might sign extensions before then, making Lee the top priority… or the Knicks could trade Curry or Jeffries… in which case the cap hold is no problem. Otherwise, the Knicks have to a) renounce Lee; b) sign him (losing crucial cap space); or c) ask him to wait while they deal with LeBron… if he really wants to stay in NY, he might wait, but that’s asking a lot — you know some other team will swoop in with a sign-now, take-it-or-leave-it offer.

    I think if he signs a one-year contract, the odds are less than 50-50 that he’s here any longer than that. Probably more like 20-80.

  8. Jafa

    Thomas B – “The bird in the hand thing has merit if what you have in hand is equal to or better than what is in the bush.”

    Where do you come up with this stuff? The bird in hand is never equal to or better than what is in the bush. That’s why you are looking in the bush to begin with. If your bird in hand was better (according to you a big fat juicy turkey) then its dinner time. LOL!

    But your point is taken and I agree with it. Go after the superstar. Every NBA champion the last 10 years (except Detriot) has had at least one superstar on it’s roster:

    2009 – Lakers (Kobe, Gasol)
    2008 – Celtics (Pierce, Allen, KG)
    2007 – Spurs (Duncan, Parker, Ginobli (SP?))
    2006 – Heat (Wade, Shaq)
    2005 – Spurs (see above…)
    2004 – Pistons (the exception)
    2003 – Spurs
    2002 – Lakers (Kobe, Shaq)
    2001 – Lakers (you know who they are…)
    2000 – Lakers

    I say go get a “big fat juicy turkey”.

  9. Caleb

    I sometimes think the need for a superstar is a little bit overblown… I can think of a few near-miss teams that would change the picture a little bit. What if the Mavs won with Nowitzki as the best player? or the Pacers, with Reggie Miller?

    I guess it goes without saying that if you have a fantastic superstar, your odds go up. But that doesn’t mean you have to start throwing Hail Mary passes, gutting the roster and swinging for the fences in free agency. The track record for those teams (e.g. the post-Jordan Bulls) is not pretty.

  10. Thomas B.

    “Thomas B. Where do you come up with this stuff? The bird in hand is never equal to or better than what is in the bush.”

    Yes, I am aware of that. And for that reason I added a little word: “if.” If the bird you have is as good as the two you dont, then you dont drop that one in hopes of catching two. But, Lee is not as good as Wade or James, so yes you let the little bird go and take your shot at one or both turkeys. I’m not going to be too upset over losing Lee, even if we dont get the turkeys, there are other players to be had. I guess I have to check the similarity scores to see how unique Lee really is. I cant recall, is Lee’s grade up yet Mike.

  11. Dan Panorama

    Caleb–

    Maybe not Miller, but absolutely Dirk Nowitzki counts as a superstar. — he won an MVP award and has put up ridiculous numbers for many years on elite teams. He would fit the trend just fine. Like the 2004 Pistons, those Dallas teams have been very deep, but none of them fit the mold of the superstar-less Pistons. They have a clear franchise talent (Dirk) and a rotating cast of borderline or recent all stars backing him up, similar to the Lakers this year with Kobe flanked by Pau/Odom and now Artest.

  12. Thomas B.

    “I guess it goes without saying that if you have a fantastic superstar, your odds go up. But that doesn’t mean you have to start throwing Hail Mary passes, gutting the roster and swinging for the fences in free agency. The track record for those teams (e.g. the post-Jordan Bulls) is not pretty.”

    For about five years after Jordan, it was pretty bad. But they had a host of bad luck and they were not patient either. Jay Williams was bad luck; trading Brand was impatience, ditto chandler. You know, it all started to turn around after they traded Curry.

  13. Caleb

    The point about the Bulls is that they repeatedly tried and failed to lure free agents — having cap room and max offers wasn’t enough to get any FAs to join a 20-win team.

  14. Thomas B.

    The point about the Bulls is that they repeatedly tried and failed to lure free agents — having cap room and max offers wasn’t enough to get any FAs to join a 20-win team.

    Sorry, missed that point. When the Bulls’ top free agent is the likes of Jalen Rose, then your point is well made. But I thought alot of that was player backlash to the GM and owner for the way they broke up the Bulls.

    Also, who wants to live in Chicago? It has Toronto’s weather but none of its charm. Think about it, you as a free agent can go to the Bulls or the Magic. Hello sunny Orlando. Hello 12 month bikinis.

    Finally, its really not any better for them today. They picked up Wallace by grossly overpaying for a declining player, ala Scott Layden. Not many top free agents have moved to Chicago in recent years even with them playing better than 20 win ball. They have drafted well and managed to keep most of their picks. The best thing they did was to move Curry. Worst was to dump Chandler for Wallace.

    The Bulls improved when they stopped looking for free agents and groomed their own picks into a good team. the knicks could do that if they would stop trading away their high picks.

  15. jon abbey

    Caleb, what big name free agents did the Bulls try and fail to get? I honestly don’t remember a single instance of that, but maybe I’m just forgetting.

    also, you can go all the way back to the Magic/Bird era, virtually every title team has had one of the 2-3 best players in the league on it.

  16. Z-man

    I remember something about them having a chance to land Kobe, but they didn’t want to part with Deng….

    Also worth noting that every team other than the Pistons had a superstar that they got through the draft…

    On another note, if the Knicks sign Lee (and/or Nate) to a 1-year deal, then find a way to trade Curry and/or Jeffries before the Feb deadline, can they then negotiate a longer term deal for Lee before season’s end?

  17. ess-dog

    Yeah you’ve either got to draft the star players or trade for them around the draft (see Kobe) or prey on a disgruntled player (see Gasol.). So Walsh has the right idea if he’s still pursuing Rubio. Is he worth Gallo? We all love Gallo, but a back injury can be scary especially once there’s surgery. Would you do it if the Wolves threw in a ’10 pick?

  18. Z-man

    Hmm… would be tempting with the draft pick. I would need an indication that Gallo was not progressing as well as expected. I watched the you-tube Rubio highlight reels and was not blown away; on the other hand, Gallo was very impressive in his short stint last year.

    If I were convinced that Rubio was the real deal and could play NBA defense at some point, I probably make the deal. Minny still could be a terrible western conference team, esp. if any of their key players go down and that draft pick might become valuable. Even so, I’d be OK with Walsh turning this deal down.

    Would be great to have them both, though…

  19. BiggieSmalls

    If I remember Correctly that Kobe to the Bills deal was DONE.

    Kobe nixed it because he felt the Bills were giving up too much and he would have nothing around him.

    He was down with the ideal of Chi Town though

  20. BK

    >>Also, who wants to live in Chicago? It has Toronto’s weather but none of its charm. Think about it, you as a free agent can go to the Bulls or the Magic. Hello sunny Orlando. Hello 12 month bikinis.<<

    Thomas, I know you were being tongue in cheek, but Chicago has at least as much charm as Toronto, particularly for African-American athletes. Great city life with plenty of cultural, dining, and nightlife options, and plenty of passionate fans with an edge, but (mostly) without the abrasiveness of Northeastern urban centers like Philly, Boston, or (cough) NYC.

    Meanwhile, were you confusing Orlando with Miami? The former is a tourist town/glorified suburb/ swamp with 90 degree weather and 90 percent plus humidity six months a year, where the cultural highlight is Epcot. Schools are atrocious and nightlife is mostly 80s nights at any number of tacky bars. The primary corporate sponsor of the basketball arena is Amway. That pretty much covers it.

  21. jon abbey

    “Also worth noting that every team other than the Pistons had a superstar that they got through the draft…”

    Shaq was a free agent, Kobe was dealt for on draft day.

  22. Z-man

    “Shaq was a free agent, Kobe was dealt for on draft day.”

    Very nitpicky. The point is that LA didn’t have to get under the cap to sign Kobe as a max free agent or make a blockbuster deal after he became a star. Whether he was acquired via a draft day deal, a product of an earlier trade or a standard pick is irrelevant.

    Technically we didn’t draft Toney Douglas. Are you going to correct everyone that makes this egregious error in the future?

  23. jamrock1v

    “Also worth noting that every team other than the Pistons had a superstar that they got through the draft…”

    Shaq was a free agent, Kobe was dealt for on draft day.

    Also, had the Celtics not signed Ray Allen or KG to deals… they would have gotten nowhere near the finals (or even the playoffs)

  24. Rashidi

    Another thing, who were the coaches on those teams?

    Phil Jackson, Doc Rivers, Gregg Popovich, Pat Riley, and Larry Brown.

    All of them preach defense.

  25. Caleb

    “who were the coaches on those teams?
    Phil Jackson, Doc Rivers, Gregg Popovich, Pat Riley, and Larry Brown.
    All of them preach defense.”

    Championships are won because of players, not coaches. Anyway, Jax’ Bulls & Lakers teams have always been stronger on offense than defense.

    This also sounds like a dig at D’Antoni, which I thought was pretty well debunked in an earlier posting…

    ==
    I think jamrock makes a good point about the Celtics – that team was built piece by piece, not around a single superstar. That’s why I think it’s foolish to let Lee walk. Maybe even Robinson. At some point you need to catch a break — a superstar comes available by trade, or your mid-round draft pick turns out great. But you have to be ready — a decent cap situation, so you can swing a trade… HAVING the draft picks… having good players in the fold as a supporting cast. I think Walsh is generally on the right track, but you can’t expect him to undo Isiah’s damage in just a year or two. Based on his Indiana tenure, Walsh seems more like a piece-by-piece guy, anyway. Of course he didn’t have the cash resources he has now, so it’s hard to know.

    re: the Bulls… I was talking more about the 1999-2002 period, than the Kobe chasing period when they were already a decent team. When Jordan and Pippen left for Jerry Krause proclaimed he was basically clearing out every contract, and would just reload with top free agents. And they went after EVERYone. Grant Hill. Tracy McGrady… Eddie Jones (a 3-time All-Star, at one point)… talking up the possibility of Garnett (until he extended with Minnesota)… etc.

    Here are a couple of typical articles, from the era…
    http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-4553216.html
    http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-69260605.html

  26. Rashidi

    And while, none of those teams built themselves EXCLUSIVELY through the raft, NONE built themselves through free agency.

    2009 Lakers: The Gasol “trade” (for draft picks/talent), drafted Andrew Bynum, traded Shaq for Lamar Odom, traded for Ariza, drafted Vujacic, Walton, Farmar. Only signing was Fisher, who had already spent a decade with the Lakers after being drafted by them. Their 2008 MLE signee Vlad Radmanovic was a bust and was salary dumped for Adam Morrison and Shannon Brown.

    2008 Celtics: Traded 5th pick for Ray Allen. Traded all their draft prospects from last two years for KG. Drafted Rajon Rondo (kudos Isiah) and Kendrick Perkins. Drafted Paul Pierce 9th overall way back too.

    2007 Spurs: Drafted Duncan, Parker, and Manu. Signed Michael Finley, Bruce Bowen, Robert Horry, Fabricio Oberto, Brent Barry. Not exactly a superstar list.

    2006 Heat: Drafted Wade and Haslem. Traded for Shaq, Walker, Posey, and J-Will. Acquired Zo back in the day via trade.

    2005 Spurs: Same team as 07 with Rasho Nesterovic as the big signing.

    2004 Pistons: Traded for Rip Hamilton, Ben Wallace, and Rasheed Wallace. Drafted Tayshaun Prince, Mehmet Okur. Signed Chauncey Billups before he was Chauncey Billups.

    2003 Spurs: Signed Stephen Jackson after his rookie season with NJ. Traded for Steve Kerr and Steve Smith. Drafted Malik Rose. They also drafted this guy named David Robinson #1 overall a real long time ago.

    2002 Lakers: Signed Shaq and Rick Fox. Drafted Kobe, Devean George, and Derek Fisher. Traded for Robert Horry and Lindsey Hunter.

    2001 Lakers: Signed Ron Harper, Horace Grant

    2000 Lakers: Traded for Glen Rice and A.C. Green

    So aside from the Shaq signing, every free agent pick up by a champion was a complimentary player. It’s worth noting that Shaq signed in an era where the Lakers were able to outbid the Magic by freeing up more cap space. They would not be able to do that in today’s NBA.

  27. gbaked

    “I sometimes think the need for a superstar is a little bit overblown… I can think of a few near-miss teams that would change the picture a little bit. What if the Mavs won with Nowitzki as the best player? or the Pacers, with Reggie Miller?”

    If The Pacers or Mavs had actually won, would Miller and Nowitzki have the final resume piece to be considered superstars? They were right on the cusp (and could be argued they were).

    A lee in the hand is not worth whats in the bush. Because you only have a certain amount of hand$ to hold players… so letting him go opens up a free hand to get someone else.

    What I am trying to say is that with a salary cap, sometimes letting a player go for cap space is just as important as signing a player.

    After a superstar is signed next summer… we will still have the capabilities to sign role players. Which, even though he is a very good one, is really all Lee is.

  28. pbrsociety

    gbaked has it right.

    lee is a nice player but he is not the kind of athlete that will be a primary component of a championship team. signing one or two stars next summer to build around should be the first and last priority. a key reason why walsh is a good manager is because he has the guts to make the moves that will benefit his team in the long term rather than making quick fix moves (see scott layden, isiah thomas) to please fans who are only thinking about what next week’s team will look like.

  29. Nick C.

    But what happens when and if LeBron and Wade don’t come to NYC. It’s foolish to put all your eggs in one basket and letting on of the few, if not only, proven even NBA average players on the roster go is hardly going to make this an enticing place to play unless you’re of the midset that hey it’s NY people will fall aklll over themselve sto play here whether the team is good or lottery bound.

  30. Caleb

    It’s not that complicated, it’s just, “If you take the money you’re going to spend on David lee and spend it somewhere else, are you likely to get a player as good?” The answer is probably not… I doubt there are 5 better players switching teams next summer.

    no need to recap our DL coverage, but is he worth $8 million a year? Obviously yes, IMO. $10 million? In a league where the superstars make $20 million — probably. Not a bargain any more, but look at the players making $10 million a year, and DL is better than most of them – at least half.

  31. ess-dog

    Well put Caleb. Lee could even be the the 4th or 5th best free agent next year, since Kobe ain’t goin nowhere and I would say Boozer is questionably better… but that’s like saying the Hawks are a top 4 team in the east when there is clearly a big drop off after the top 3 teams.

    Lebron and Wade are worth the trouble. Also Amare to some extent.
    I can’t see Wade choosing us over Miami or Chicago though. Better shot at LeBron.

  32. Ted Nelson

    -The Lee situation is complicated… The birds in the bush are attractive enough that you could easily justify taking the high risk road.
    Lee’s contract demands are central. If you want to take the lower risk road of resigning him, you sign him to a reasonable deal for cap flexibility. My gut is that Lee’s agent is very willing to wait until next year: UFA plus tons of teams with tons of cap space.

    -The Pistons didn’t have a superstar in the traditional sense, but they had one of the best players at their position at each spot. I also think that Chauncey Billups was very underrated back then.

    “If I were convinced that Rubio was the real deal and could play NBA defense at some point,”

    He was the Defensive Player of the Year in the Spanish league as a teenage PG… (DPOY is awarded subjectively, but there are plenty of strong defensive bigmen in Spain who were candidates for the award. For example, Tiago Splitter and Fran Vazquez were both 1st round picks in the NBA based primarily on their defense.)
    Defense is not a concern with Rubio, shooting and scoring are the biggest question mark. He definitely has the talent to be special, though.

    “Lebron and Wade are worth the trouble. Also Amare to some extent.”

    I don’t know if Amare is, to be honest. He’s a big time scorer, but fairly one dimensional and injury prone. As he loses athleticism, does he lose effectiveness? I think I would say he’s more valuable to a team than Lee (depends how highly you value rebounds), but he’ll also be paid twice as much. So, you have to ask whether he’s more valuable than, say, Lee, Robinson, and Sessions. Or two Lees.

    I would call it a toss up between Amare and Bosh.

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