I'm doing some traveling today, but before I go, I'd like to pass along this li'l flurry of news regarding David Lee's free agency. It starts with this morning's ARTICLE BY MARC BERMAN:
In the NBA, it is almost unheard-of for players of Lee's stature to be camp holdouts.
"I certainly hope not, but you have to have an agreement," agent Mark Bartelstein told The Post yesterday. "I never thought we'd be this far without a deal. It comes down to making a deal. You have to ask [team president] Donnie [Walsh]."
Right. Check the headline on that article and tell me what you think. In fact, you don't even have to. Alan Hahn already slayed that beast in this morning's Fix:
Lee has little, if any, leverage as a restricted free agent. In fact, if he was to hold out of camp, his qualifying offer of $2.7M would expire on Oct. 1. The catch is he would remain restricted, but at this point the Knicks are no longer committed to the QO so they could offer him less. No one else in the league has cap space aside from the OKC Thunder (and they ain't spending) and though the Knicks have, are and will consider sign-and-trade offers, they are not obligated to execute one if it doesn't benefit them in any way.
Long story short, don't worry about a holdout. This isn't the NFL, and Lee isn't that kind of guy anyway. It's clear that Lee's camp is pretty peeved at what they take to be a lowball offer, but we can expect an agreement to come before camp starts. Both Lee's character and the practicality of the situation pretty much forbid a holdout.
That said, this is a fairly new wrinkle in the recent history of Knicks management. We may have grown accustomed to Isiah shrugging permissively while agents scribbled zeros on their clients' contracts, but things have certainly changed. Donnie Walsh has restored a business-like atmosphere at the negotiation table, and simply won't budge to appease players, or even fans. This is unquestionably the wise way to do things, but it's not always pleasant. This summer's dealings with Lee, Nate Robinson, and Ramon Sessions are perfect examples of that. If sign-and-trades can't be swung, expect Robinson and Lee to join the stable of Knicks whose deals expire in the summer of 2010.
The one thing that irks me about all this is the red carpet treatment afforded to guys like Jason Kidd and Grant Hill, when career Knicks and fan favorites get little to no love. It's truly a business, y'all.