Lee, Knicks reach 1-year deal

Sep 25, 2009 - 2:51 AM By BRIAN MAHONEY AP Basketball Writer

NEW YORK(AP) -- Power forward David Lee is staying with the New York Knicks for a one-year deal Thursday worth about $8 million.

Lee sought a multiyear contract. But with the Knicks hoping to save salary cap room for the summer of 2010, he had to settle for the chance to become an unrestricted free agent next year.

Lee averaged 16 points and 11.7 rebounds last season. He led the NBA with 65 double-doubles and was third in rebounding.

Yahoo! Sports first reported the deal Thursday.

Lee became a restricted free agent this summer, meaning the Knicks would've had seven days to match any offer he received. His agent, Mark Bartelstein, said some teams were interested in sign-and-trade deals, but none that the Knicks liked.

Bartelstein said Lee's preference was to remain in New York, where he has spent his entire career. The agent also said he didn't think the Knicks wanted to trade Lee, who had his best offensive statistics last season in his first year playing in Mike D'Antoni's system.

Though he repeatedly said wanted to keep Lee, Knicks president Donnie Walsh had said he wasn't going to offer more than one-year deals in this offseason. Next year's class of free agents is expected to be especially lush and many teams, including the Knicks, want to save their money until then.

"It was a very, very unique set of circumstances. A perfect storm of what you'd not want in free agency," Bartelstein said.

It made for a frustrating summer for Lee, who was forced to sit out USA Basketball minicamp in July because he was unsigned. But Bartelstein said he appreciated the Knicks giving Lee a deal for well above his qualifying offer, which was for under $3 million.

"I think they really wanted to show David great respect for what he's done for the organization. They came and met us and did something that was very unique," Bartelstein said.

The Knicks said nothing would be official until Friday, when they also are expected to announce they have re-signed Nate Robinson, another restricted free agent. Robinson thanked the Knicks, his agents and Walsh on his Twitter page Thursday night.

No one has shouted yet.
Be the first!