It’s been considered kind of an inevitability over the summer that the Knicks would look to deal Courtney Lee before what’s sure to be a year full of trying out younger players like Mario Hezonja, Damyean Dotson and Allonzo Trier in Lee’s former bench shooting guard role.
Now, there may be some confirmation that the feeling is mutual, and Lee wants to seek greener pastures on a contender for the 2018-19 season. Marc Berman of the New York Post has the report:
According to an NBA source, Lee’s preference if he gets traded is to be dealt to a playoff team or a contender. It’s an understandable wish formulated during an offseason spent in Orlando and Los Angeles as he saw the Knicks franchise’s youthful direction.
The feeling is mutual because of Lee’s age (32) and long-term contract. The Knicks want to ship Lee to open up more cap space for 2019. Lee has $12.2 million remaining on his deal for 2018-2019 and $12.7 in 2019-2020.
Lee actually put up one of the best seasons of his career in 2017-18, averaging 12 points on 45 percent shooting and 40 percent from 3, so his trade value is arguably at its highest point as a Knick with only two seasons left on his deal.
Berman didn’t offer any teams that are seriously considering signing Lee, other than to say that the Sixers “reportedly still have some interest” after missing on signing Lee in the 2016 offseason. Berman also mentions that the Knicks could look to include Lee in a package for Jimmy Butler, should Minnesota’s embattled All-Star become available.
But wait! There’s more! Apparently everything I just said is false, if you take it directly from the source on social media:
So that’s a thing! Also, Jesus Rodriguez, an occasional Knicks rumor breaker (who quite obviously has a source that is either very close to Courtney Lee or actually Courtney Lee), confirmed Lee’s comment:
I think the context that may be confusing some is that “IF” Lee is dealt he would prefer to go to a contender (as would most other players). Nothing about him wanting out of New York. Just that if #knicks do deal him he would hope they send him to a contender. https://t.co/kdcADkEZjN— Jesus Rodriguez (@JSports_ent) September 19, 2018
So yeah, take all of this as you will. The reality is, the Knicks have probably been trying to deal Lee all summer, and he just wants them/the media to know that he’d like to go to a winning situation if he is indeed dealt (who wouldn’t?).