More Quotes From David Lee

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.

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Mike Kurylo

Mike Kurylo is the founder and editor of His book on the 2012 Knicks, "We’ll Always Have Linsanity," is on sale now. Follow him on twitter (@KnickerBlogger).

31 thoughts to “More Quotes From David Lee”

  1. Oh, and in “the more things change, the more they stay the same” department, Eddy limped off the practice court yesterday with a strained right calf. Ugh….

  2. DLee is a class act. He said all the right things – no bad blood, Coach D is the best, wanting to be part of the solution. What a great locker room guy. I don’t think he’ll put up the same numbers as last season, but I’d be happy if he even comes close.

    On another front, here is a link to some photos of the, dare I say, svelt Eddy Curry from training camp:

  3. d-mar,

    The NYT article on Gallinari is awesome! I was bracing myself to hear that he would be 70% for the rest of his career. I guess back injuries can always resurface down the line, but that’s the best news the Knicks (and their fans… us) could possibly get.


    The way Curry looks reminds me a lot of the way Vin Baker looked when he slimmed down during his stint with the Knicks… Don’t know what that means exactly, just reminds me of that.
    Good to actually see the weight off… he looks like a basketball player… it might be the first time in a long time the Knicks will go into camp without any disgustingly out of shape players on their roster (am I missing anyone?).

  4. Looks like Curry’s injury might threaten his spot in the rotation, at least initially. May be a good thing in that Hill will see more time in preseason games. I am beginning to think that Curry is at least 2 months away from serious minutes. He’s already having calf and hamstring issues after a summer of intensive workouts?!

    On the other hand, he did recover from a shoulder problem a couple of years ago. Remember when he had to wear that funny contraption?

    Hahn tweets that Hill is hitting jumpers when left open…

  5. I heard Hahn was on Brandon Tierney’s show this morning and said that Hill looks like he’s a project with lots of work ahead of him. I wouldn’t put too much hope on Hill being productive this season. He’ll likely be limited to garbage time, if that. Especially considering that Darko, Lee, Curry, Jeffries, Harrington, Gallo will all see burn before D’Antoni considers putting Hill into a game.

  6. Seems like Douglas is impressing in camp with speed and defense. Very excited to see him play.

  7. Just read this:

    Sure, they already knew [Jamal Crawford] could score with the best of them. He is, after all, one of just four players in NBA history to score 50 or more points with three different teams, joining legends Wilt Chamberlain, Bernard King and Moses Malone in that elite club.

    But they had no idea he was such a gifted passer and tenacious defender as he’s shown in the first hours of training camp.

    It’s those two surprising traits, in addition to Crawford’s ability to score in bunches from virtually anywhere on the floor, that are expected to make his transition a smooth one.

    I was thinking of a poll. The date in which the first article complains about Crawford’s lack of defense.

    * Oct 2, 2009
    * Nov 1, 2009
    * Today 1pm
    * After Crawford first encounters a pick & roll.

    A refresher, for those that have forgotten:

  8. It definitely took me longer than “the first few hours of training camp” to fall out of love with Jamal.

    But he’ll be useful for the Hawks. I just hope they don’t really expect him to be a “tenacious defender” or see his “gifted passing” displayed too often. (But maybe he’ll petition Hawk management to deal for his good fiend Eddy Curry, who’s ability to catch a lob-pass made Jamal “the best passer on the Knicks”…)

    I always liked Jamal, though, and I hope he does well in ATL.

  9. I could see Jamal doing alright for the Hawks… he’s replacing Flip Murray, who has a lot of the same weaknesses he does and probably less talent. He is actually a good passer for an off-guard. His defense will probably be terrible, but may be masked a little playing on what should be the best team D he’s ever played on. Not bad as a 3rd guard if he can score as efficiently as last season, which is somewhat doubtful. His 3p% has been solid the past 2 seasons, which could be important if he wants to steal minutes from Bibby.
    Definitely don’t want Jamal scoring 50 pts… wonder what his teams’ records are in those games? I would say that Jamal will be forced to reign in his shooting a little, but Murray was actually the Hawks’ 2nd leading per minute scorer so he’ll probably be asked to replace that.

    I like Jeff Teague a whole lot, think he was a steal at 19, and expect a good career out of him, but I doubt he’ll challenge Jamal much as a rookie.

  10. Also wonder how many possessions Jamal took to get to 50 points in each of those games…

  11. was that the one against the Heat? what was amazing about that was he basically did it all in a two quarter span as I recall, from the middle of the second quarter to the middle of the fourth.

  12. I do vaguely remember that one… right when the Knicks were “going to the playoffs” and re-signed Isiah wasn’t it?

    Knicks: 81.9% true shooting (I found 4-4 FTs and 8-10 3s on ESPN)… Knicks win.
    GS: 73.7% true shooting… GS wins.
    Chicago: 64.4% true shooting, Bulls win…

    So 3-0. I guess the 50 point games are (obviously) the ones where his shots were falling. I almost forget the maddening inconsistency… He does have plenty of efficient nights, and a lot of people have always rallied for him as a 3rd guard. The big thing to me, more than his role or even minutes, is the difference between Jamal Crawford being your best guard by a mile and having 2 other guards who are as good or better…

  13. TDM – As far as I know, the photo of Jerome isn’t w/a fish eye lens. It’s from the Bulls’ media day. Jerome maybe eat Jannero Pargo (b/c his name sounds like a tasty Mediterranean dish) by mistake. Bad Jerome…

    Here’s a possibly wildly over-optimistic thought – before the ’04-’05 season, MD’A was getting flack for his decision not to start the immortal Jake Voskuhl at center and instead start his best 5 guys – a PG, 3 SF’s and A PF (Nash, JJ, QRich, Matrix, Stat).

    Following the tea leaves o’ training camp, it looks like the starting 5 will again be a PG, 3 SF’s and a PF (Duhon, Wil, Gallo, Al, DLee [they need better nicknames]).

    Not that these cats are gonna win 60, but I think 40-45 wins (and “shocking” the experts) are w/in reach.

    Am I drinking the Kool-Aid?

  14. Besides calling LeBron a guard and mentioning Cat Mobley in the Knicks’ guard rotation (possibly confusing him with Hughes…), that’s encouraging news about Douglas. Between Summer League and this it seems like he should at least be passable as a back-up PG, a huge improvement for the Knicks over what they had most of last season. Hopefully he’s more than just passable, of course.

    He and Danilo are two of the biggest x-factors for the Knicks, so good to hear positive stuff about them on consecutive days…

  15. Yeah, I saw that Mobley reference, too, pretty lame. Re: LeBron, he almost transcends position so I can let that one go.

    Gallo and Toney are already looking like they will gravitate towards the high side of predictions. Hill and Curry, not so much.

    For me, the most critical unknown right now is Darko. Pessimistically, one could say he’s been in the league long enough to conclude that he is what he is. On the other hand, he just turned 24, and has been in some rough situations that may have hindered his development. This seems like the absolutely perfect opportunity for him to establish himself as a quality NBA center, especially if Curry is out and Hill isn’t ready. D’Antoni’s penchant for euroball is also a plus. I hope he is given every opportunity to succeed in this pivotal year for him. Is it asking too much for him to eventually be at least as good as Pryzbylla or Gortat?

  16. “Gallo and Toney are already looking like they will gravitate towards the high side of predictions.”

    I definitely hope so. I don’t want to get overly optimistic, though. We saw the hype Jamal Crawford is getting in Atlanta based on a few hours of preseason scrimmages and I don’t usually trust my NBA news coming from anyone who puts a retired player in a team’s backcourt rotation. I’m going to wait until the lights come on, to steal Duhon’s expression from that article…
    So far the news is as positive as it could be, definitely. I really think that based on his play in Europe and limited minutes last season Danilo will be a very good NBA player. Douglas… I have high hopes for him based on what I’ve seen/heard, but less of a sure thing. Less is probably going to be expected of him this season, too, though.

    “Hill and Curry, not so much.”

    Curry has already exceeded my wildest expectations of him, sad as that may be. The injury is a bad break, but in those pictures he looks like a real life basketball player… you know, like someone who is paid to stay in shape and perform on the court. I have some hopes that he’ll be able to get up and down the court and provide some high efficiency scoring… and maybe get himself traded for cap relief. (Random thought: JaMarcus Russell reminds me a bit of football’s Eddy Curry…)

    I really don’t know what to think of Hill yet. He seems to have more defensive potential than any Knicks’ bigman since Camby. The comparisons to guys like Kurt Thomas and Brian Grant are fairly positive, but my impression of him from college was that he was a more explosive athlete than those guys. Something that might help him in a fast-paced offense. The long-term is what’s important, but a good rookie year could go a long way with 2010 free agents…

    “For me, the most critical unknown right now is Darko.”

    I’m among those who says he’s 24 with 6 NBA seasons, so chances are that what you see is what you get. Good situation or bad situation, someone who can’t score can’t score. I don’t get the euro-center thing, because Darko’s horrible jumper makes him a weak fit as a high-post player. His defense is ok, which is a big improvement at the 5 for the Knicks. If Jordan Hill is an NBA player he probably makes that as laughable as it sounds by next season.

    “Is it asking too much for him to eventually be at least as good as Pryzbylla or Gortat?”

    It is asking a whole lot for him to be as good as Przybilla. However Przybilla produced terribly before Portland, so maybe that’s a good example of Darko’s theoretical potential. Darko has had a lot more chances to prove himself than Przybilla did though. After 3 separate teams its hard to keep talking about how he’s a victim of circumstance. Even with all the talk about how Detroit wasn’t a good place to develop, they’ve played plenty of young guys there… Darko simply didn’t earn minutes. He didn’t even earn minutes on the god-awful Memphis Grizzlies who were desperate for a defensive presence. Memphis seems like it was a great opportunity for him.

    I feel less comfortable saying anything about Gortat due to his small sample size. He is a very good finisher around the basket, though, something Milicic simply has not been yet. Reminds me of Lee-haters who said he had no offensive skill. Finishing close to the basket absolutely is a skill that not everyone has. Gortat is also a BEAST on the boards, while Darko is an average rebounder.

    I don’t think Darko is useless, but if he’s playing a lot I think it’s a bad sign for the Knicks… or he’s had a revelation of some kind. I know you are sky-high on D’Antoni, but I didn’t see a whole lot of skill development/attitude change under D’Antoni in Phoenix. He put talented players in good spots to utilize their skills. Talent players who had mostly already produced before playing for him. I just see no precedent for the kind of re-wiring I think it will take to make guys like Darko and Chandler productive NBA players. Doesn’t mean it can’t happen, but I just don’t think you can look at the Phoenix experience as working magic. In Denver he absolutely couldn’t get anything out of a bad but not talentless team. I give so much credit to Bryan Colangelo for the team he put together in Phoenix and selecting D’Antoni to coach it…

  17. Another point about this consensus “Darko will thrive under D’Antoni because of their shared European basketball heritage” logic… Marc Gasol is the prototypical euro-center and he thrived in Memphis on the same team that couldn’t wait to give away Darko. If Darko was this stand-out euro-center wouldn’t he have thrived there? Euro-centers thrive there and they were desperate for some interior D, I can’t think of a stronger indictment of Darko…

  18. If you look closely at Gasol’s and Milicic’s per minute stats from last year, the only thing that jumps out is the difference in FT%, which obviously affects PER and TS%. Milicic rebounded and blocked shots at a slightly higher rate and committed less fouls and turnovers, while Gasol had more assists and more FTs per game. Yes, Gasol was a rookie, but he was also 24 with lots of euro experience. This is not to say that Darko has no responsibility for his lack of development, but his age and last year’s per minute stats don’t suggest that he is done developing. Isn’t Gasol also making far less money?

    BTW, Milicic’s stats in his 4-game (28mpg) playoff foray with Orlando in ’06-07 at age 21 were much more impressive, which is also promising. The question is, can he play like this more consistently? That’s why I think he’s possibly a big plus for us; thank goodness the risk factor if you turn out to be correct is very low, since you do raise very valid concerns.

  19. I was maybe putting too much weight (i.e. any weight at all) on the decision making of an organization whose big offseason acquisitions were Zach Randolph and Allen Iverson.

    There stats are pretty similar–Darko having an edge in some areas–but what stands out to me when talking about the Darko will thrive under D’Antoni hype is scoring efficiency and passing. The difference between .590 TS and .533 TS is big. The argument I’ve seen a million times this summer is that Darko will become a good NBA scorer or even live up to his draft potential in D’Antoni’s system, because D’Antoni played and coached in Europe… which I take to mean either that Darko will be a strong high-post center, along the lines of previously successful centers from Europe like Sabonis, Divac, or both Gasols… or that he will be a freakish inside/outside scorer along the lines of a poor man’s Dirk (his original draft hype).

    An ideal high-post center can pass well and hit a mid-range jumper, to go with a post game and, of course, defense/rebounding/etc. (Dirk has an amazing jumper, so I don’t think there’s anything to that comparison at all.) Darko is still young enough that his passing can reasonably be expected to improve with work, but he’s not a natural passer. His jumper is weak (.333 eFG% last season on 28% jumpers, compared to Marc Gasol’s .403 on 42%). He’s also not a terribly efficient scorer close to the basket (.586 on 72% inside shots, compared to Gasol at .621 on 58%). And as you point out he’s not good at drawing fouls or making FTs. That’s why I don’t buy the whole “euro-center” thing… I do think that Darko might be useful for his defense, rebounding, and to convert a low volume of inside shots… Shot blocking especially was something the Knicks were pretty desperate for last season. These are areas where Darko is solid-to-good, clearly better than someone like Gasol for example.

    Sort of a side point on Gasol, but young European veterans tend to improve after struggling a little during their rookie NBA seasons. That’s not true for someone like Sabonis who came to the NBA at 31 and already passed his prime. Guys who came over in their mid-20s, though, tend to get better after their rookie seasons: Kukoc, Calderon, Ginobili, Nocioni… Scola to a lesser extent.

    Totally a guess on the playoff numbers… Dwight Howard put up a low TS% and a really high TO-rate the same series, so maybe Dwight was getting double-teamed and Detroit was letting Darko score. Or maybe Darko was motivated to play against his old team/ knew their defensive tendencies… I really don’t remember the series at all.

    I agree that it was a good/great move by Walsh. Close to zero downside, some upside, and a good fit with what the Knicks need: shot blocking, a legitimate center… My expectations are just tempered.

  20. I can’t argue that Darko has not had opportunities, even if not ideal ones. This may be the year that defines the rest of his career. It really is a PERFECT situation for him: nobody in front of him that is a true C going into preseason games, a system that might play to his strenghts and disguise his weaknesses, a team tha needs exactly what he provides, a contract year in which to prove his value, etc. I hope he can become an effective passer…his TO rate is relatively low and he does get some assists, so at least there’s hope. I really like Gortat, so to expect Darko to play as aggressively and as well is asking too much.

  21. I don’t expect much further development from Darko but I think he’s overly maligned – he is and always will be a bad offensive player, but he’s a solid rebounder (miles ahead of Curry, of course) and he seems to be an average- to above-average defender. If he never improves a bit, you could do a lot worse for 20-25 minutes a game. He’s especially valuable on the Knicks, because the rest of our interior defense is so pathetic. He helps us more than he helps a team that already has Gasol.

    The Hill/Thomas comparison is interesting. Hill’s numbers clearly don’t project to his being a great player, but the wildcard is defense — harder to measure, and so harder to predict. Thomas was an excellent defender without being much of a shot-blocker, or a great rebounder. People talk about his jump shot but that was just a nice little bonus.

    Hill as Kurt Thomas isn’t totally incomprehensible. At least until the games start!

  22. One thing I like so far about Hill is that he seems confident yet self-aware. I don’t think he is a master of syntax, so I will ignore the “score at will” comment. He doesn’t really resemble Kurt physically, so I don’t see the comparison. Kurt seems stronger and plays physically on the ground, a la Oak, while Hill seems longer and leaner, more of a shot-blocking help defender. Kurt is more of a polished set shooter, Hill is more of a gangly fade-away shooter.

    My guess is that defensively he will be a foul machine for a while, like Balk. Offensively, it is hard to say what he will end up being. His footwork is promising but has a long way to go. Seems coachable, though.

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