David Lee answered some more questions pre-camp on 9/28/09.
[On his upcoming season.]
I’ve [gotten better each year] my first four years. And I’ll continue to do that this year. I think I have a pretty well defined role because a lot of the same people are back and the coach is back. We’re running the same system this year, so I know what coach wants out of me.
[On whether the number of players entering free agency next summer will be a distraction to the team this year.]
No because people were talking about it last year. We’ve got a lot of guys on one year deals right now and a lot of people finishing up their contract. Everyone’s motivated from the standpoint that we’re tired of losing. It’s the matter of coming out and having a great training camp. That’s the first step – having everyone on the same page. There’s really no controversy like in years past, like what happened with this guy or that guy. This year things are pretty settled down and we can focus on basketball.
[On his contract negotiations this summer, and if he’s happy to be back.]
We came in last summer looking for a long term deal and we couldn’t get that done and that’s unfortunate. Yet at the same time I understand what the Knicks are doing. I told Mr. Walsh when we had a meeting about a month ago that I don’t want to be a part of the problem, I want to be a part of the solution. And the solution right now is for them to save their [financial] flexibility next summer, and hopefully I’ll be a part of it long term. As of next summer, we’ll see what happens. I’m very happy with how the Knicks treated me there’s no bad blood on either side. We came to a great compromise and both sides are excited. They’re excited to have me here and I’m excited to be here… This is where I want to be, this is where I started out the summer wanting to be, and I’m just happy that things worked out and I’m still a Knick.
[On whether back in July did he thought he’d be a Knick.]
I had daydreams where I thought there was no way, and I had days where I was sure I would be back. In the end [beacuse of] the restricted free agency situation a lot of things have to fall into place to get anything done. And I’m glad they didn’t fall into place because I’m happy to be back. Coach [D’Antoni] is the best coach I’ve ever played for and I’m happy to be back here. And I have a lot of teammates that I”m excited to play alongside with.
[On what he did in the offseason.]
The offseason I got a little bit of a late start because of the contract proceedings but I’ve been in here every day since August 1st working out with the guys. Big changes [this year is] we’ve got a lot more guys that are in New York working out in the facility. In the past we’ve had people working out in their hometown and come back a week or so before [training camp started]. But this year for a solid month and a half we’ve had the same core guys working out with our coaches and that makes a big difference because we have guys that are willing to play with one another and everybody’s doing what the coaching staff wants.
[On whether the Knicks have to make the playoffs to attract LeBron James.]
I can’t get into LeBron’s, Dwayne Wade’s or Chris Bosh’s heads to know what they want. But I think that’s going to be something that all those guys will look at next summer. The biggest thing is this year, regardless of what happens next summer, we need to have a good year for us, and for the guys that are here, and for the fans of New York. We’re planning on doing that and whatever happens is going to happen. A lot more of it has to do with a lot of our futures, and which ones of us stay around. It’ll probably have a lot more effect on us than it will on Wade or LeBron.
[On all the expiring contracts making it like everyone is trying out for next year’s team.]
One thing we need to do is make a positive out of it – and the positive side is that we have a lot of guys that have a lot to prove this year. We have a lot of guys that really want to make their mark on the Knicks franchise because the future is sort of unknown. The other side of it is that you want to avoid is how you hear about contract guys going for their own, but we don’t have those types of guys on this team that are going to shoot the ball 30 times a game this year. I don’t think we have those kinds of guys no matter what their contract situation is. I think we can make this into a positive and realize that we all need to play for this year and not look towards the future because there’s not a lot of security there.
[On whether he thought he picked the wrong year to be a free agent.]
There’s a lot of factors. Our team is trying to get under the cap. And they want to save their flexibility for next summer. And with the economy and with base year compensation which is something I learned about a lot this summer – one of the more complicated aspects of restricted free agency – it was kinda like the perfect storm had hit me for getting something long term done. But once again I’m very happy with how things ended up working out and I’m looking forward to this season. The Knicks were more than fair with me, and I’m very happy about that.