Beyond the early rumors leading into the draft that the Knicks were willing to move David Lee for a top-five pick, a few things happened later Thursday night (into Friday morning) that made it appear as though David Lee is not long for the Knicks.
Here are the pieces of news that will make David Lee fans (which apparently does not include Mike D’Antoni and Donnie Walsh) sad:
1. After drafting Danilo Gallinari, Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni was interviewed about the pick, and stated that he envisioned the 19-year old 6’9″ Italian as a power forward in the mold of Boris Diaw and Dirk Nowitzki.
2. After the draft, a rumor began that the Charlotte Bobcats, who drafted DJ Augustin, were discussing a deal with the Knicks involving David Lee and the Bobcats point guard, Raymond Felton, as the primary pieces. Frank Isola posted on his blog:
The selection of Italian forward Danilo Gallinari could mean the end of David Lee’s Knicks career.
I’m hearing that the Knicks could be working on a deal with the Charlotte Bobcats to acquire point guard Raymond Felton for Lee, who played for Bobcats coach Larry Brown.
Coincidentally, the Bobcats selected Texas point guard D.J. Augustin with the ninth overall pick. Charlotte’s second point was French center Alexis Ajinca.
When Mike D’Antoni coached the Phoenix Suns he gave the front office a the thumbs-down to drafting Lee because he felt that Lee wasn’t a good enough shooter.
The Knicks had spoken to the Memphis Grizzlies about trading Lee and Malik Rose before the draft to acquire the fifth pick.
3. Finally, early Friday morning, the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Memphis Grizzlies put together a mega-deal, with Minnesota sending the draft rights to #3 pick OJ Mayo, Marko Jaric, Antoine Walker and Greg Buckner to Memphis in return for the draft rights to Kevin Love, Mike Miller, Brian Cardinal and Jason Collins.
Suddenly, Memphis now has four young guards, ranging from promising to really promising, in OJ Mayo, Mike Conley, Kyle Lowry and Javaris Crittenton. They also do not really have a power forward of note (Hakim Warrick is their current power forward). Earlier in the day there was a rumor that David Lee, via his agent, informed the Grizzlies that Lee would never sign with them long-term. Later in the day, Lee’s agent claimed that not to be true.
So while no deal appears especially imminent, the signs apepar to point to D’Antoni and Walsh being very open to the idea of trading Lee, and as is usually the case in the NBA, if teams keep talking about trading you, usually they do end up trading you.
Hopefully all of the smoke here is just a smoke screen, and there is no fire – but I am not hopeful for Lee’s future as a Knick.