05 July 2009
Seven months ago, I wrote about a report telling how Portland and the New York Knicks were in serious talks about a trade for David Lee and a deal was in the works.
After speaking with a credible league source it became glaringly obvious the speculation coming out of New York about the Blazers acquiring the blue-collar Lee was merely that.
Why would anyone trade their most valuable player, let alone a double-double machine (he led the NBA with 65 total, including 10-straight during one stretch last season) who can play small forward, power forward or center?
"Every team in the league asks (Knicks General Manager) Donnie Walsh about him. A sure sign they should hold onto him,” the source said then.
Time hasn’t changed much. New York is still likely to re-sign the 6’9 free-agent forward or match any offer given to him by July 15. Now after the Hedo Turkoglu debacle, Portland is focusing on Lee as reports have indicated, with a possible sign-and-trade (Travis Outlaw and Steve Blake) being one option.
Here’s the deal though: don’t be alarmed if the Knicks inquire about Rudy Fernandez too in some form or fashion. Mike D’Antoni originally drafted Rudy while in Phoenix and with the brand of ball Mike plays, Fernandez fits his system perfectly. But are the Blazers ready to let Rudy go?
Then there’s the money issue. Portland could offer Lee a five-year deal worth $9 or $10 million a season – the going rate Lee and his agent Mark Bartelstein are seeking. But will they? The trouble is, besides the very hefty price tag, Lee isn’t interested in being anyone’s back-up anymore. He’s done that for the past four years and isn’t planning on doing it for a fifth.
Not to mention, the spot where he logs the most minutes (power forward) is occupied in Portland by a guy who is expecting an early contract extension this summer.
That's a lot of coin for a back-up and starter at the same spot. Which is which would be settled in training camp. Also remember, management wants to extend Roy too this offseason.
Even more coin.
The last thing the Blazers need is to extend a lucrative offer to Lee – if a sign-and-trade doesn’t work out with the Knicks – only to have Donnie Walsh match the generous offer and have Lee stay put in New York. Portland’s seen that act before with one of Bartelstein’s other clients.
It’s a Catch-22 for Portland. You never have to draw-up a play for Lee and he fits the “toughness” mentality Portland seeks in the frontcourt. He simply gets after it. But coming off the bench isn’t of any interest in the least to Lee. Who knows? Maybe Kevin Pritchard and Nate McMillan sell him on it. Or maybe $9 or $10 million reasons will change his mind.
Forget the meet and greet at the airport and the Turkish disco music this time around. If you want to lure Lee, just send him a lunchbucket because the guy comes to work every night.
And bring your checkbook too.
You’re gonna need it.
pic via: daylife
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